Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, says the Department of State Services (DSS) lacks the power to summon Kassim Afegbua, spokesman of former military President Ibrahim Banangida.

The secret police invited Afegbua to its headquarters in Abuja shortly after he had honoured a similar invitation from the police.

The police had declared him wanted over a statement he issued on behalf of his principal on Sunday.

After the statement was made public, a counter one was issued. The second statement said the views in the first one were those of Afegbua.

Although Babangida made it clear that he asked his spokesman to release that statement, the police invited him for “injurious falsehood”.

The police later apologised but the DSS took up the matter.

Condemning the action of the DSS in a statement on Friday, Falana said Afegbua did not commit any offence.

“Upon realising that Mr. Kassim Afegbua did not commit any offence known to law over the issuance of a press statement on behalf of the ex-mitary dictator, General Babangida the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris, rightly decided not to press charges against the suspect,” the statement read.

“Thus, the decision of the Police Force ended the needless harassment of Mr. Afegbua. But apparently dissatisfied with the handling of the matter by the Police the Director-General of the State Security Service, Mr. Lawal Musa Daura was reported to have summoned Mr. Afegbua to his office for interrogation over the same controversial press statement.

“The Police had claimed that Mr. Afegbua had defamed General Babangida. If the retired General was defamed in the publication he has the liberty to seek redress in a high court. But the State Security Service has no power to convert the alleged civil wrong of defamation to a criminal offence to warrant the harrassmemt of Mr. Afegbua.

“Since the alleged denial of the press statement by General Babangida has not caused any threat to the internal security of the country the invitation by the State Security Service constitutes a gross abuse of powers.

“In the case of the Director of State Security Service & Anor. v Olisa Agbakoba (1999) 3 NWLR (Pt 595) 314 the Supreme Court held that the power of the State Security Service is strictly limited to the prevention and detention of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria as stipulated by section 2 of the National Security Agencies Act. Mr. Daura should therefore be restrained by President Buhari from subjecting Mr. Afegbua to any form of interrogation and thereby violating his fundamental rights to personal liberty and fair hearing guaranteed by the Constitution.”

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