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SSS frees lawyer detained illegally for four months

Nigeria’s State Security Service (SSS), on Friday, released Gabriel Ogbonna, an Abia-based lawyer who has spent four months in its custody.


PREMIUM TIMES reported how the agency refused to release Mr Ogbonna despite multiple court judgments ordering his release.


The judgment of Justice Taiwo of the Abuja Federal High Court in Abuja last Tuesday made it the third time a court would grant Mr Ogbonna bail.


This paper reported how the lawyer was arrested for posting articles criticising the Okezie Ikpeazu-led government in Abia State, via his social media page, in March.


Shortly after the arrest, he was arraigned alongside another person for cybercrime and publishing false and threatening messages against Governor Ikpeazu, at a magistrate court in Umuahia.


However, because the magistrate court lacked jurisdiction to hear the case, he was remanded at a correctional facility in the state capital until April 28, when he was arraigned before the Federal High Court in Umuahia and was granted bail.


Mr Ogbonna was re-arrested by SSS operatives on his way out of the correctional facility in Umuahia on the same day. This was after he had perfected the bail conditions.


This paper learnt that the SSS moved Mr Ogbonna to its office in the state and in April, its headquarters in Abuja, where he was in custody without any charges until recently when he was charged with allegations bordering around cybercrime.



PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Mr Ogbonna regained freedom after his bail conditions, as stipulated by Justice Taiwo, were perfected.


He was released to some lawyers on Friday evening, sources told our reporter.


Uzoma Ogbonna, his spouse, confirmed the release speaking with PREMIUM TIMES on Friday night. She, however, noted that Mr Ogbonna will be in Abuja for a while.


“I spoke with him this evening after he was released. He used one of the phones of the lawyers. I’m very happy. He is still in Abuja.” Mrs Ogbonna said.

The SSS is notorious for disobeying court rulings and non-adherence to judicial processes.


The publisher of Sahara Reporters, Omoyele Sowore, Shiite leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and former National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, were held by the agency despite being granted bail by the courts in separate cases.


Although Messrs Sowore and Dasuki were eventually freed in December 2019, Mr El-Zakzaky is still in detention.

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