The SSS Is Right To Search The Precints Of Akwa-Ibom Govt House – Obono Obla
The National Securities Act, Cap N74, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2010, creates 3 (three) Securities Agencies in the Country namely: the Defence Intelligence Agency; National Intelligence Agency; and the State Security Service.
Accordingly, under Section 2 (3) (a) (b) & (C) of the National Securities Agencies Act, the State Security Service (SSS) is vested with the State Security Service and shall be charged with following responsibility: –
(a) the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria;
(b) the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria; and
(c) such other responsibilities affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary.
It follows that the SSS acted within the statutory powers conferred on it by Section 2 (3) (a) (b) & (c) of the National Securities Agencies Act when it entered the precincts of the Government House, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria on the 4th September, 2015, acting on a genuine security report that arms and ammunitions were stock piled there.
The precincts of the Government House, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, does not enjoy any constitutional immunity from being searched by the SSS or other Security Agencies; It does not enjoy any immunity from criminal investigation; The Government House cannot be immune to entry by the SSS or Police for the purpose of the prevention and detection of any crime against the internal security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
The immunity conferred on Governor Udom Emmanuel of Akwa Ibom State of Nigeria by Section 308 (1) (a) & (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) does not extend to the precincts of the Government House, Uyo.
If a murder or treason or any crime is committed in the precincts of the Government House, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State or any other State for that matter the SSS or the Police have the right to enter there for the purpose of investigating or even arresting those who carried out the murder or treason.
The immunity conferred on Governor Udom Emmanuel does not mean that the SSS or Police or any other Law Enforcement Agency for that matter cannot investigate or question him.
Immunity is not a passport to breach the National Security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Immunity is not equal to lawlessness.
The purport of Section 308 (1) (a) & (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is that no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against the President, Vice President, Governor or Deputy Governor during their period of office.
It follows that Section 308 (1) (a) & (3) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) is not a carte blanche for a Governor to stock pile arms and ammunitions and carry out criminal activity in the precincts of the Government House.
It is instructive that all the fundamental rights guaranteed or entrenched by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) are not absolute. These rights are limited and can be derogated from in certain circumstances by the Constitution.
Section 45 of the Constitution provide thus:
(1) Nothing in Sections 37, 38, 39, 40 and 41 of this Constitution shall invalidate any law that is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society –
(a) in the interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health; or
(b) for the purpose of protecting the rights and freedom of other persons.
So the hue and cry by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the Governor of Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose, that the entry of the SSS into the precincts of the Government House, Uyo, is draconian and an affront to democracy is a very unfounded statement and not supported by the Constitution of the Country. It is nothing but a red herring to distract the SSS and Nigerians.
The pertinent question is: What is a cache of fire arms or explosive devices doing in the precincts of the Government House, Uyo? Has the Government House, Uyo become an armoury? Is the Government House, Uyo, or any Government House in any other State of the Federation of Nigeria constitutionally provided to have an armoury where cache of arms are stored in a democratic dispensation?
I think we as citizens of this country should be very circumspect on issues bedevilling the Country. Arms and defence of whatever sort in any part of Nigeria are a matter under the Exclusive Legislative List of the National Assembly, and where our laws have not made provisions for the Government House of any State of the Federation to turn into an Armoury Centre, we should not justify or explain away or trivialize the issue of why a cache of arms was found in the Government House, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!