The Resource Centre for Human Rights & Civic Education (CHRICED) unequivocally condemns the action of some officials of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), who have engaged in the serial violation of the rights of a Lagos businessman, Abdulwaheed Abdulraheem.
Abdulwaheed has been incarcerated and held unlawfully in custody of the agency since October 18, 2023 without being charged for any offence. Although the NDLEA officials claimed they are investigating a case involving some suspected drug traffickers arrested in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, it appears the officials are determined to hold him in custody for any length of time, in order to get the real persons of interest in the case.
The NDLEA officials are apparently detaining Abdulwaheed, while fishing for evidence, and without following the due process of the law. This approach violates the provisions of Section 7 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2015, which makes it abundantly clear that: “A person shall not be arrested in place of a suspect.”
It is also clear from the way the case is unfolding that the officials in charge of the case have been abusing their powers in order to reach a predetermined outcome.
CHRICED finds it extremely disturbing that the officials holding Abdulwaheed in custody have obtained no warrant of the court to justify their prolonged incarceration of the businessman.
Only recently, after the Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, presided by Justice Nicholas Osiagor ordered the NDLEA to produce the detainee in court.
However, in order to circumvent the court order, the agency hurriedly filed a charge against the detainee at the Federal High Court in Kano. CHRICED also finds it pertinent to draw attention to the fact that the detainee, who runs a travel agency, has insisted on his innocence. To the best of our knowledge, Abdulwaheed, runs a travel agency business, which processes visas, travel tickets and accommodation for teeming clients.
That some travelers whom he processed visas for were alleged to be found in possession of illicit drugs, does not necessarily mean, the businessman was involved in the crime, especially if there is no evidence to indict him. The action of the NDLEA officials to detain him indefinitely and unlawfully, pending when the real suspects are arrested, violates his rights, the rule of law and natural justice.
While CHRICED is not against law enforcement institutions carrying out their lawful duties, the law enforcers themselves must adhere to the law. Violating the rights of a citizen, even if he or she is suspected of breaking the law, cannot be justified. CHRICED therefore calls on the NDLEA officials concerned to act strictly in accordance to the law and ensure the rights of Alhaji Abdulwaheed as provided for in extant laws, are respected and protected.
Comrade Ibrahim M. Zikirullahi