Obadiah Mailafia. Photo: THEINTERVIEW• Counsel Alleges Persecution
A FORMER deputy governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), Obadiah Mailafia, has again been invited by the Department of State Service (DSS) to appear at its office in Jos, Plateau State, on Monday, September 14.
This is the third time the security agency is inviting Mailafia since he alleged that a northern governor is among the leaders of the Boko Haram insurgents.
Mailafia, while appealing to Nigerians to pray for him, said: “I have reasons to believe that my life is in danger and that some powerful political forces want to silence me forever for speaking the truth, for speaking on behalf of the Holy Martyrs- of thousands of innocent children, women, elderly and youths that have been killed in our beloved country.”
This was re-echoed by his Lead Counsel, Mr. Pius Akubo (SAN), who described his constant and frequent invitation by DSS as open and unjustified persecution, just because of where he comes from in Nigeria, claiming that many other Nigerians had said more than what Mailafia said and they went away scot-free, adding that this is a clear case of outright minority persecution.
Akubo made the submission, yesterday, while arguing Mailafia’s case in the suit against the Inspector General of Police (IGP), before Justice Arum Ashoms of the Plateau State High Court 5, for inviting him more than necessary, as there was no incriminating proof against him to warrant such avalanche of invitations.
Mailafia, speaking during a programme on Nigeria Info 95.1FM, Abuja on August 10, said repentant insurgents informed him that a governor from the north was their commander, a statement that caused a stir among Nigerians, with the Northern Governors Forum asking the security agencies to investigate the allegation.
When he was first invited by the DSS, the security agency said his allegation was fake news, but Mailafia stood his ground, insisting he was ready to lay down his life for Nigeria, adding: “This is not the time to disown what I said. Yes, I was privy to some very sensitive information, which all statesmen are entitled to have by virtue of our public roles.”
After a second invitation, followed by another invited by the Police on the same issue, he went to court to seek a restraining order against the Police, who he said were also pursuing him.
When the case came up yesterday before Justice Arum Ashoms of the Plateau State High Court 5, Akubo said he was in court for the enforcement of the applicant’s fundamental rights, with about 29 paragraph affidavit, supported by three exhibits attached, which he told the court his team was heavily relying on.
Akubo argued, among others, that matters touching on internal security are within the purview and jurisdiction of the DSS, citing many legal authorities to buttress his argument.
He contended that in paragraph 10 of Mailafia’s affidavit, DSS invited him on August 7, where he gave statement, but that the DSS was not satisfied and still went ahead to invite him for the umpteenth time, which led to the present litigation.
“What is that business that the DSS is handling if they don’t have any ulterior motive? Anytime Mailafia appeared before them, they would not tell him why he was invited and the crime committed.
“In as much as no criminal act has been leveled against the applicant, and he has not committed any criminal offence but would honour DSS invitation always, this is double jeopardy. There is a security problem in this country because he comes from a particular part of this country, but others have said more than what he said, yet nothing had happened,” Akubo said.
He urged the court to sustain the application, adding that the likelihood of infringement of Mailafia’s fundamental rights was sufficient to set him free and uphold his application, urging the court should overrule the arguments of the respondent.
But Counsel to the Respondent, Mr. Lukman Fagbemi, who relied on the entire 13 paragraphs affidavit, urged court to dismiss the case, because there is no law that imposes on a particular person to depose to an affidavit, stressing that the respondent has abided by the rule.
Fagbemi said that there is nothing in the 1999 Constitution (as amended) showing that the applicant’s rights have been infringed.
On double jeopardy canvassed by Akubo, he urged the court to discountenance the argument, stressing that the ulterior motive argued by the applicant’s Counsel should also be disregarded as a mere speculation. Justice Ashoms reserved ruling until September 29.