As DSS Becomes a Threat to National Security By Wale Ajetunmobi
Everywhere in the world, operatives of the State Security Service (in some countries it is called Secret Service) are known to deploy high-level tact, uncommon bravura and impeccable professionalism in discharging their duty to secure a country and its inhabitants. For them, anybody and everybody, whether in government or not, living within a country may become subject of investigation if the peace in the country is threatened.
No matter how highly-placed or his position in the society, anyone that constitutes security risk to the existence of such a country becomes the guest of the agency, which has the statutory responsibility to expose treasonable activities of such person (and his collaborators) and foil the plan, without having to wait for the approval of the authority. It means that the modus operandi of the Secret Service is spontaneous, because survival of the country is paramount.
Therefore, overt or covert operations of the Secret Service agents don’t need to attract noise or praise-singing, which naturally excites politicians. By training, the operatives are expected to be proactive in the discharge of their function, without generating unnecessary hoopla.
However, in Nigeria, we have a Secret Service that endangers the country whose continuous existence it was established to protect. It goes by the name, Department of State Service (DSS). The agency, against the ethos of secret intelligence gathering, discharges its duty with so much noise and swagger. Rather than expose, the agency engages in mendacity and turns itself to finger-pointing organisation, doling out unproven allegations against certain shades of Nigerians. All these are in anathema to all known codes of engagement of the State Security Service.
Whether it smacks of overzealousness or outright mischief, the loquacious Deputy Director of Information of the Department of State Service (DSS) Marilyn OgSar’s outburst last Thursday would have disappointed many a Nigerian. Speaking incoherently on Sunrise Daily, a morning programme on Channel Television, last Thursday, the DSS spokesperson may have been fanning embers of discord with her diabolical views and commentaries.
By now, I expect the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Alhaji Lai Mohammed, to have gone to court to enforce his fundamental human rights to move freely across the nation, any time, which was infringed on by the hooded DSS operatives on the eve of the last governorship election in Osun State.
This writer does not seek to hold brief for the politician; this missive is to draw attention to the dangerous signal coming from the DSS, an institution in whose hand the survival of this nation lies.
As a security apparatus created by the Constitution of the Federal Republic, many would have expected the DSS modus operandi to be to work for the safety of the citizens and security of the nation. But, this remains what it is – expectation. The agency, alas, is fast becoming an organ of tyranny and intimidation in the hand of the Federal Government to crush opponents of President Goodluck Jonathan and his political party – Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
This is understandable from the antics and body language of the DSS operatives in the recent times. The agency has continue to bemuse Nigerians with their unprofessional action and comments from which one could draw a conclusion that its duty may have changed from gathering useful intelligence reports to concocting falsehood to fight the president’s opponents.
No doubt, the show of force we witnessed during the Osun election is a prelude of what to expect in 2015 general election in which the president would be major contender. The ruling PDP must win at all cost, whether the people still want to cast their vote for the party or not. Opposition leaders must be branded as terrorists and hoodlums, wreaking havoc in the country.
Granted, several issues came to the fore before and after recent elections held in Edo, Ekiti, Ondo, Anambra and Osun states. One of such is the legality and the level of participation of security agencies in the process with respect to the electoral guideline. Some argue whether there was the need to have “heavy security presence” (euphemism for militarisation) before a free and fair election could be seen to have been organised.
While the debate should be left for discussion by National Assembly members, it must, however, be said that the Jonathan-led Federal Government has brazenly abused the rule of engagement of security agents, including the soldiers. Rather than being a non-partisan supervisor, the president flagrantly deploys the state’s organs of coercion against opponents of his administration and political party.
On the eve of the Osun election, there were reports of mass arrest of opposition figures in the states. Surprisingly, none of the people arrested with illegal materials or weapons to distabilise the process, which means they were being hounded and intimidated. The president cannot claim he was not aware of this political persecution.
Security agencies are supposed to be non-partisan institutions of state whose activities must be channeled towards engendering peace and contain threat against the country. But under the present administration, opposition members and citizens, who do not agree with the president’s style, are dubbed terrorists and seen as threat to national security.
Justifying Lai Mohammed’s “45 minutes” arrest in Osun, the voluble DSS spokesperson said the APC chieftain was detained for “loitering around the Osun State” when he should not be seen anywhere near the state but in Kwara State, his home state. But she never told the world if there was curfew in the state prior to the election.
Mrs Ogar said Mohammed constituted a security threat by moving at such hour of the day. What is the definition of security threat? Is it not the same state where PDP chieftains and some meddlesome federal ministers freely moved cash and suspicious materials to different parts of the state to induce voters?
In her moment of incoherence during the live interview, Ogar alleged that the APC tried to compromise the DSS operation during Osun election. She said a highly-placed APC chieftain offered N14 million as “bribe” to an unnamed director commanding the operation.
Asked why the nameless APC chieftain had not been picked up for questioning, Ogar, apparently dazed, retorted that she did not call it a bribe but “an offer”, which was to streamline the DSS operation during the election. In the same breath, she accused the media for describing the “offer” as a “bribe”. What a blatant volte-face.
If the DSS knew that the APC chieftain was extending the alleged N14 million offering to simplify its operation, and it turned down the “offer”, why did the agency rushed to the media to make false claim to demonise the nameless chieftain and his party? If it was indeed a bribe, why did DSS wait till after the election before it started pointing accusing finger?
It is obvious that either DSS, as an institution, or Marilyn Ogar, in her personal capacity as spokesperson, is up to something that may not be far from mischief. The DSS, with its utterances and action, seems to be working in consonance with an agenda to further divide the already fissured nation.
If it is not working in collaboration with the PDP, how could the spokesperson of the DSS, a supposedly non-partisan institution, make such a reckless comment that “it is only when the APC loses that there will be bomb blast”? This is sheer official recklessness and crass partisanship. With this, the DSS is showing us on whose side its loyalty lies.
To be sure, this writer is not out to say that APC should not share in the blame for whatever the country has become under the present crop of leaders, but let the party be judged in fairness.
My opinion is that, if the DSS has strong evidence that APC sponsors terrorism or gives bribe to compromise electoral process, it must not hesitate to expose the party culpable officials and charge them for treason. But giving its imprimatur to the psychological demonisation of certain Nigerians and their political parties as group of terrorists without coming out with strong evidence is way DSS is sowing seed of discord in the country it is created to protect.
Ajetunmobi, a Lagos-based journalist, can be reached on Twitter @riddwane
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