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DSS Releases Ebonyi Lawyer Detained Since 2021, After FIJ Story

DSS Releases Ebonyi Lawyer Detained Since 2021, After FIJ Story

The Department of State Service (DSS) has released Pius Awoke, the Ebonyi-based lawyer who was arrested on July 21, 2021.

This is happening one month after FIJ’s publication on the matter.

Kelechi Anwu, a colleague of Awoke, who first spoke to FIJ about the issue in May, said that the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) was triggered to look into the case after FIJ’s publication.

The NBA responded to the case because they read your article, which I made sure to circulate,” he told FIJ on Saturday.

“It is the link they got from the WhatsApp platform, even though they are refusing to acknowledge they got it from your article. I am grateful to God that they were able to acknowledge the issue and that they made efforts.

“Thank you, FIJ. You are the only media channel that agreed to hear our story and published the continued detention of Barr. Pius Awoke.”

In a statement released on Friday and shared with FIJ, NBA said Awoke was released from custody alongside one Onyiba Emmanuel Chinonso, a computer science student at Ebonyi State University.

I am pleased to inform you that I have, today, 21 June 2024, secured the release of our colleague, Pius 1. Awoke, Esq of Abakaliki Branch from the custody of the Department of State Security (DSS). He was released alongside one Onyiba Emmanuel Chinonso, a computer science student of Ebonyi State University, who was arrested and detained with Mr. Awoke,” the NBA statement reads in part.

FIJ reported on May 23 that Awoke, who was arrested by the DSS while traveling from Ebonyi to Abuja on July 21, was still being held. A source had revealed that the agency refused to charge him in court or grant him bail as prescribed by the constitution.

“Awoke was travelling from Ebonyi to Abuja when officials of the DSS stopped his commercial vehicle and arrested him. They arrested all the men who were on the bus, including him, thinking they were of the Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) sect,” the source told FIJ.

“No one said anything to us for a long time; then later, they said he was being held for terrorism. But even this was a rumour; we had no official statement about the charge against him from the DSS, as lawyers and relatives were barred from interfacing with it.”

The lawyer was released on Saturday after spending about three years in detention.

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