There are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari personally intervened in the release of a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki and activist Omoyele Sowore after getting a new brief on their detention.
The President was said to have taken a step beyond the security reports from the Department of State Services (DSS) to ascertain the facts behind their continued detention.
It was learnt that the President initially restricted himself to the DSS claims that the cases involving Sowore and Dasuki were “purely legal.”
But on Monday, the President took a decision on their release after an audience with some of his “confidants, including governors and ex-security chiefs.”
It was gathered that the session gave “different perspectives to the DSS security reports.”
The perspectives shared with the President, it was learnt, bordered on “political and international implications” of their continued detention.
The session raised issues about the DSS “lionising Sowore for nothing.”
The session was also devoted to the thin line between security matters and pronouncements by the courts.
It was learnt that Buhari made up his mind after “weighing options” from the session.
A top source said: “You can see that the release of the two men was based on orders from above. It was purely a decision of the President such that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), had to issue a statement from abroad based on presidential directives.
“What happened actually was that the DSS had persistently been using the cases in court for keeping Sowore and Dasuki. The President never had the opportunity of looking at other options.
“At a point, Malami was asked to review the cases but DSS was uncomfortable with the development.
“However, the narrative changed after the President met with some of his political confidants, who gave a new brief on the suspects, especially beyond the DSS report.
“Obviously, there were many dimensions to the cases at hand which no one drew the President’s attention to. As long as it was about compliance with due process and prejudicial matters, the President opted not to interfere with court processes.
“Those at the session on Monday took time to give in-depth details. For instance, it was difficult to determine how Sowore, who garnered negligible votes during the 2019 poll, is a threat to the nation.
The source added: “The President took notes at the session at the Presidential Villa and promised to act.”
Based on the positive response of the President, it was gathered that Sowore’s counsel, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), was ” kept abreast of likely release of Sowore by a political confidant of the President.
“The only caveat was extracting a commitment from Falana that Sowore will keep to his bail conditions,” the source added.
Another source claimed that “the case of Dasuki was seen as more pathetic having been granted bail six times by various courts since August 30, 2015.
The source added: “Apart from respecting the court, a lot of family factors crept in for his release because the wife of the President’s nephew, Mamman Daura, is Dasuki ‘s sister. Also, one of the special advisers to the President, Mrs. Mariam Uwais, is Dasuki’s step sister. Another influential member of the kitchen cabinet, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, is an in-law of the ex-NSA.
“In the past few months, there had been pressure on those powers that be to prevail on President Buhari to ask DSS to respect the decisions of the courts to admit Dasuki to bail.
“I think it was just strategic for the government to wait for an auspicious time like the eve of Christmas to combine the release of the two
Senior lawyer Mike Ozekhome, in a statement in Abuja, said the release of the detainees was good for the rule of law.
He said: “The order by the Federal Government through the AGF, Abubakar Malami, SAN, for the immediate release of Dasuki who has been in detention for about four years, and Sowore is commendable..
“Sowore, who has been detained since August, 2019, is salutary for democracy, respect for fundamental rights of the citizens and observance of rule of law.
“I am happy the government has finally realised its faux pas and is seeing the same light which I saw since 2015, when I kicked against the illegal incarceration of Dasuki. It is never too late to take corrective measures and make amends. There is nothing like something good happening at a bad time, or something bad happening at a good time.
“This government is beginning to see the importance of the rule of law prevailing over rule of the thumb and over so- called national security, which is a euphemism for security of a government in power.”
He advised the President to also order the release of the Leader of the proscribed Islamic Movement of Nigeria Leader, Ibrahim El Zakzaky and his wife, Zeena.
The SAN said: “The government should add El-Zakzaky to the list of detainees to be released, because the whole world, aside government apologists and grovelers, see all of them as political prisoners.
“Respect for rule of law and citizens’ fundamental rights constitute some of the key building blocks of democracy. Obedience to court orders, however distasteful, constitutes the irreducible minimum of a civilized nation.
“The government should build on this fresh air of freedom to stop tormenting Nigerians with maximum fear and subjugation, making them discuss in whispers and walking ‘sumnabulistically’ like Ayi Kwei Armah’s “the living dead.”