‘We’ll seek legal redress’ – NBA Abakaliki Branch Responds To DSS’ 3-year Detention of its Member

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) has condemned the prolonged detention of lawyer Pius Awoke by the Department of State Services (DSS) and vowed to pursue legal action once he recovers from the health issues resulting from his incarceration. Awoke was arrested on July 26, 2021, while returning from Abuja after attending the arraignment and trial of Nnamdi Kanu, the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB).

During his detention, Awoke was held in various DSS facilities and endured significant hardships before finally being released on June 21, 2024. The NBA’s Abakaliki Branch Chairman, Edeh Samuel Edeh, highlighted the severe impact of Awoke’s detention on his family and other dependents, calling it a dehumanizing experience.

“This man went for a legitimate duty as a lawyer. He went to court to represent a client, and as he was returning from Abuja, he was arrested by DSS.”

“Now, the issue here is, since when has it been unlawful that a lawyer should represent a client? If a member of DSS is alleged to have committed one offence or another, won’t he have the right to brief a lawyer to represent him?”

“So, the way Pius Awoke, being our member, was humiliated, and dehumanised is something too gory, too bad, and unacceptable, and on behalf of NBA Abakaliki branch, we condemn such. Even the National NBA, is also feeling very bad. The President and the entire body, we have been on phones, we have been discussing and I know several efforts that were made and through the efforts of the National President, Pius Awoke has been released.”

“If you look at his family, you will shed tears. His wife and the entire family have gone through untold hardship during these three years Pius Awoke was in the DSS cells as if Pius had died. But there must be punitive measures; they have to pay, and they will pay for it.”

“The association is still studying the situation. Let Pius get himself; we will take it up from there,” Edeh stated.