SIM card: Public security cases can’t be brought to court, DSS tells judge
SIM card: Public security cases can’t be brought to court, DSS tells judge
SIM card: Public security cases can’t be brought to court, DSS tells judge
The Department of State Services (DSS) has told a Federal High Court sitting in Asaba that some sensitive national security matters cannot be brought to court hence its decision to detain a trader, Anthony Okolie, for 10 weeks without a valid court order.

The Principal Staff Officer, Legal Services, DSS, Mr. E. E Daubry, said this while defending a suit instituted against the DSS by Okolie, who was detained for 10 weeks for using a SIM card previously owned by the President’s daughter, Hanan Buhari.

Okolie, had through his lawyer, Tope Akinyode, filed a fundamental human rights suit against the DSS, Hanan and telecoms firm, MTN. He is also seeking N500m to be paid as damages.

Addressing the court, the DSS lawyer said if the agency had applied to the court to let Okolie be detained, sensitive information could have leaked to third parties.

Daubry said Okolie used Hanan’s old line to misrepresent issues to members of the public, an act he described as a serious national security breach.

It said Okolie confessed in his statement that he used Hanan’s old line to solicit N5,000

He said, “The first family is being investigated and that is a national security issue and this representation and misrepresentation were made to people within and outside Nigeria. And that warranted a long investigation, his phone had to be analysed.

“And my lord, the DSS in performing its responsibility can meet with other agencies because there are other strategic government agencies. My lord, we have deposed to the fact that classified issues arose in the course of that investigation that made the DSS say no, we cannot go to court with this.”

Justice Dimgba, however, expressed surprise at Daubry’s claim, saying, “You cannot go to court with what?”

The DSS lawyer, in his response, said going by the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015, the agency would have needed to tender sensitive information before the court which could jeopardise the investigation, hence its decision to detain Okolie for 10 weeks.

Daubry added, “We can’t take the applicant to court, cannot file charges. The law requires that if they are staying beyond 48 hours, there must be reasonable circumstances that warrant that and in this case, we are saying the national security issues that underpin the investigations cannot be revealed to third parties.

“Now, my lord, if we file under the ACJA that we need an order to keep him in SSS custody, it will mean filing at the registry. Between the registry and when it will be convenient for my lord to hear the application, the information is divulged.”

Justice Dimgba, however, questioned the modus operandi of the DSS and asked Daubry why the agency did not exploit the Terrorism Prevention Act which would have made it easier for the agency to get a detention order.

Responding, the DSS lawyer said, “Well my lord, at the initial stage it was not clear whether it was terrorism or not. If it was terrorism, he would have gone for 90 days. Processes would have been put in place.”

The judge responded, “If it wasn’t clear that it was terrorism or something else, does it not mean you ought to have done more investigation before the arrest was made?”

Justice Dimgba asked the DSS lawyer if this is how investigations are done in other civilised climes.

Daubry said the DSS had world-class technology that could reveal the location of anyone using a phone.

“If my lord will look at the affidavit, I am proud to say the SSS can do what is called geo-location through geospatial intelligence and pick anyone at anytime and when we checked that line, the user of that number was found somewhere in Asaba and operations were deployed,” Daubry said.

He said in the case of Asari Dokubo vs the Federal Government, the Supreme Court had ruled that individual rights can be suspended in favour of national security.

The Judge, who awarded a judgment against the DSS in favour of journalist, Jones Abiri, in 2017, responded “When you get home, Google my judgement on Jones Abiri vs DSS.

The matter has been adjourned till April 1, 2020 for judgement.

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