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    Friday, April 11, 2014

    Abuja Jailbreak: SSS Detains Engineer For Posting Pictures

    Isiaka Yusuf
    A Thirty-two-year-old engineer, Isiaka Yusuf, is reportedly being held by the State Security Service for posting pictures of the March 30 jailbreak by some detainees suspected to be members of the Boko Haram on Twitter.
    Investigations by source on Thursday showed that Isiaka — an employee of the Abuja Electricity Distribution Company attached to the Aso Villa substation — was picked up from his office by SSS operatives on March 30, a few hours after the incident.
    The Electrical and Electronics Engineering graduate of the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, was allegedly busy at work while the security breach lasted.

    He had posted six live pictures on his Twitter page, showing how SSS officials and soldiers battled to regain control of the secret service’s headquarters, located behind the Villa, from the detainees.

    Further checks by source on his Twitter page revealed that Isiaka’s last known public communication on the social network was the pictures and the accompanying tweets he posted in connection with the jailbreak on March 30.

    In a telephone interview with ipunch, Isiaka’s immediate younger brother, Sanusi, said he last heard from his brother on March 30, adding that the latter’s telephone had since been switched off.

    Sanusi explained that a close friend of Isiaka in Abuja, who has been leading the search for his whereabouts, was informed by a senior management staff of the AEDC at the Asokoro substation that his brother had been arrested by the SSS.
    Speaking in an emotion-laden voice, Sanusi said, “I last spoke with my elder brother on March 30 when the SSS jail break incident occurred. As I speak with you, Isiaka’s Toyota Camry saloon car is still on the premises of the Aso Villa substation, where he parked it on March 30.

    “When has it become a crime in Nigeria to post pictures on Twitter? Did he give any wrong information to the public with his Twitter post? Was it not what happened that he posted?  Why are we treating fellow Nigerians this way?
    “This is unfair. It is not as if my brother sneaked into the place to take pictures; he works in the environment.”

    Lamenting that his family has been thrown into confusion over the “continued illegal detention” of his brother for 11 days, Sanusi explained that their mother slipped into a coma as soon as she learnt of Isiaka’s detention.
    He said, “Is it not wrong for the SSS to detain someone for 11 days without informing any members of his family? When the news got to our mum on the same night, she passed out. Now she is lying unconscious in a hospital in Okenne, Kogi State.

    “The SSS should release my brother. He has suffered enough in detention. The whole family is in pain. Though I’m not against taking him away for questioning, doing so without due regard to his constitutional rights is wrong.”

    While calling on well meaning Nigerians, human rights and civil society groups to intervene in the matter and ensure the prompt release of his brother, Sanusi challenged the SSS to press charges against his brother if they were sure he had committed a crime instead of keeping him in detention.

    “If they want to caution him, let them do so. If they are taking him to court, they should tell us the offences he has committed. It is unfair to detain him without charges. I have been having sleepless nights over this matter. I don’t know who to turn to for help. Do I know if he has been poisoned or facing torture? They should release him and save our mother from untimely death,” he said.

    Meanwhile, an outrage has greeted Isiaka’s detention by the SSS, just as a Lagos-based lawyer, Ayo Sogunro, has started an online campaign for his freedom.
    Leading the campaign for Isiaka’s release, a former Minister of Education, Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, asked the SSS to act wisely so as not to worsen the situation.

    She lauded Isiaka’s actions as a “model of citizen’s adoption of social media” to inform the public, saying that “what can never be acceptable to citizens in our democracy is an attempt at strangulating citizens’ voice and their democratic rights.”
    When contacted on the telephone, the SSS Assistant Director, Public Relations, Marilyn Oga, said, “I do not even know who you are talking about. I picked your call because I thought it was someone in distress.”

    When pressed further, she declined giving any other comments, saying this correspondent is not accredited to speak with the SSS.
    Also, subsequent calls by one of our correspondents in Abuja to reach her on the matter proved abortive, as her phone rang out. A text message sent to her was also not replied to as at press time.
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