Stop DSS, NIA From Obstructing Justice, SERAP Tells Buhari

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has condemned the standoff between the officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the State Security Service, (SSS), and National Intelligence Agency, (NIA) on Tuesday.

The group described the clash as counter-productive to the fight against corruption by the President Muhammadu Buhari-led administration.

SERAP asked “the government of President Buhari to urgently instruct the leadership of the SSS and NIA to allow anti-corruption agencies to carry out their mandate without any interference whatsoever.”

Officials of the EFCC and those of the NIA as well as the DSS were on Tuesday involved in a face-off in Abuja. This occurred when operatives of the EFCC attempted to arrest former head of the NIA, Mr Ayo Oke, and the DSS, Ita Ekpeyong but the attempt was frustrated by armed officials of the two security agencies.

SERAP on Wednesday, in a statement signed by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale said the action of the DSS preventing the arrest of the former bosses, “is patently contrary to Nigerian law and international standards such as the UN Convention against Corruption to which Nigeria is a state party.

“Nothing more fundamentally undermines public confidence in the fight against grand corruption and trust in government than to see state security agencies paid for by public funds apparently aiding and abetting those suspected of engaging in corruption to escape justice.”

They, therefore, called on President Buhari to stop the SSS and NIA from obstructing justice, adding that this will make it clear that under Buhari’s watch, those accused of corruption would not be allowed to circumvent the law no matter their status in the society.

EFCC Debunks Claims Of Witch-Hunting SSS Officials

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has described as “not only specious, but pure mischief contrived for motives that are unclear” insinuations held in some quarters that it is witch-hunting officials of the State Security Services.

This comes two days after a report by Sunday Tribune accusing the anti-graft agency of not following professionalism in the conduct of its operations.

But reacting to a statement on Tuesday, EFCC’s Head of Media, Mr Wilson Uwujaren accused the newspaper of attempting to “rubbish the service since the DSS was not answerable to the EFCC.”

It read in part, “The report written by a certain Taiwo Adisa painted a picture of an imaginary feud brewing between the DSS and EFCC over the alleged invitation of some DSS operatives, which it claimed was an attempt by the Commission to “rubbish the Service since the DSS was not answerable to the EFCC.”

Mr Uwujaren further said that contrary to reports, his agency follows due process in inviting government officials suspected to have engaged in corrupt practices, by writing to their heads for permission.

He added, “But there are protocols in doing this; and part of that protocol is to write to the heads of such agencies, requesting that the officer(s) in question be released to be interviewed.

“It is important to state that it is not strange for the EFCC to invite (for questioning) officers of other law enforcement agencies alleged to be complicit in any case being investigated by the Commission.”

Although he defended the agency in its current investigation of the former National Security Adviser, Mr Dasuki Sambo, he, however, lamented the DSS for not cooperating with it.

“In the course of investigating the arms procurement scandal in the Office of the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, the Commission has had cause to request the release of officers of other security agencies. All but the DSS have acceded to this request.

“For the avoidance of doubt, the arms procurement investigation is national in outlook with alleged culprits cutting across the military, security establishments as well as the political class. It is not targeted at any institution,” he added.

Former SSS Director Begs FG, Military to Stop Operation Python Dance

The former Director of the State Security Service (SSS), Mr Mike Ejiofor has called on the Federal Government and the military to put a stop to the military operation set up in the South East and code-named Operation Python Dance.    

Ejiofor, speaking on Channels Television Breakfast Programme, Sunrise Daily, expressed worry over the consequence of the military operation saying, it may lead the country into serious national trouble.

“It is a very worrying and disturbing situation. Operation Python dance has a grave consequence to our national security. My fears are that, if these situations are not checked now, it can conflagrate into a more serious national security situation.

“The military, I appeal, I am not giving an order must withdraw in the interest of peace. In the interest of peace, that dance of the military must stop.

“That dance is not necessary, it is uncalled for and I am using this opportunity to appeal to the military authorities and the Federal Government to stop that dance. That dance is not necessary,” he said.

Ejiofor expressed more worries at the code-name of the operation emphasising that a python is a dangerous animal and naming a military operation after such is not conciliatory.

He said, “Let’s look at it, Operation Python Dance, what is a python? A Python looks at its victim, suffocates the victim before it swallows it. That is not conciliatory at all.

“At this stage of our national life when we have a lot of security challenge, we should try and see how we can solve some of the problems instead of adding more to our problems.”

The military started Operation Python Dance, last year in the South East with the aim of ridding the region of criminals and other activities threatening the security of the area.

Last week, it announced plans for another second phase of the operation and code-named it Operation Python Dance II. However, this military operation in the region has given members of the public, including the Ohanaeze a cause for concern.

The security consultant, Ejiofor also expressed disagreement with the decision of the Nigerian army to take over Nnamdi Kanu’s residence in Abia State and appealed to the Nigerian army to let peace reign in the country.

He said, “The army, going to confront Kanu with his group is going to throw us into serious problems. I witnessed the civil war, no country survives a second civil war. We must do everything to avoid this.”

Southern Kaduna Attacks: Military On Cross Border Patrol

Southern Kaduna Attacks: Military On Cross Border PatrolThe Nigerian military are embarking on a cross-border patrol of Plateau and Kaduna states to prevent any spillover of recent attacks in Southern Kaduna region.

A joint security operative with the special task force, Operation Safe Haven is doing this in collaboration with 1 Division command of the Nigerian Army to also build confidence among the affected communities that peace has returned to.

Commander of the special task force, Major General Rogers Nicholas said that the cross border patrol is to assure citizens of adequate security.

He followed it with an appeal to the people to always report strangers and unusual movement of any group of people to security agents promptly.

“We are from special task force in Plateau state; troops of 1 Division of the Nigerian Army are already deployed here.

“We crossed over to Kaduna state primarily to support and synergize so that such attacks do not happen again.

“More soldiers are to be deployed into the affected areas and (we have) also discussed with members of the communities so that we can come up with strategies on contacting security personnel when strangers are noticed in their communities.

“There should be proper channel of communication in securing the areas through the cooperation of the people,” he said.

Top military officers including senior officers of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC), the State Security Service as well as Police officers visited various communities that were affected by the several attacks.

The team was at the palace of Tum Nikyob of Kaninkon Chiefdom in Bakin Kogi, HRH Mallam Tanko Tete, as well as the palace of the chief of Godogodo where appeals were made for adequate security that will ensure that people that fled their communities can return.

The Tum Nikyob of Bakin Kogi assured the people of support as he asked for military presence so that the people that fled their ancestral homes can return and resume their farming and harvest crops that are ready for harvesting.

In addition to the presence of military personnel on ground, arrangements have also been concluded for day and night patrol by the military to ensure peace within affected communities.

DSS Cannot Enforce The Law By Being Unlawful – Muyiwa Subo

DSS Raid, Law, Muyiwa SuboFollowing the reactions that trailed the recent raid on judges by the Department of State Services, legal practitioner, Muyiwa Subo says “one cannot enforce the law by being unlawful”.

He made the comments on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, while addressing the issue of the raid on homes of some judges of the Supreme, Appeal and High Courts, by the DSS.

Mr Sobo said the case was largely an abuse of the judges’ rights to privacy.

Bringing in an international perspective, he said “the right to privacy is such a huge aspect of civil liberty in any democracy.”

He also condemned the comments purportedly made by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, that they should go to court if thing such rights were violated.

The DSS argued that “the way one acquires evidence may be questionable, however it doesn’t mean the evidence would not be valid in court”.

The DSS claims to have received a search warrant which is admissible according to the Administration Of Criminal Justice Act of 2015.

Meanwhile, Mr Sobo on the other hand argued that the admissibility of evidence regardless of how it is acquired, is against civil liberties in a democracy.

“This is because the people must have the confidence that they are safe in their homes, against the power of the government. Besides you cannot gather evidence of corruption simply based on a person’s lifestyle” he added.

He therefore maintained that evidence should not be valid if illegally obtained.

Speaking further on the idea behind the sting operation, the legal practitioner asserted that a search warrant is only needed when attempting to prevent destruction of evidence or in a case where public safety is involved.

Requesting to know what formed the basis of the investigation, he insisted that the DSS must defend its actions otherwise, “it means everything seized during that process will not be admissible”.

A wrong move

Another legal practitioner, Shina Fagbenro-Byron also deplored the

shina-fagbenro-byron
Shina Fagbenro-Byron

manner of approach of the DSS.

He said “if they had a reason to believe that there was an on-going crime as at the time they broke in, then their actions can be justified.

Before resorting to breaking down doors, he asks, “did they knock and the judge did not open”

Mr Byron however stated that the judiciary needs to take a deep look at itself to determine if they are instruments of justice or of law.

He admitted that the justice system has had some challenges and “there is corruption there just as there is everywhere else in the world”.

Judges’ Arrest: Former British Cop Berates Execution Of ‘Sting Operation’

vince-onyekwelu-judges-arrestThe arrest of some court judges by a combined team of Police and DSS officials in the early hours of Saturday, October 8 has continued to generate reactions.

While various judicial stakeholders have criticised the government for the arrest, a former British police officer, Vince Onyekwelu, has picked holes in the level of expertise displayed by the DSS during its execution of the operation.

The security analyst told Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily how the arrest should have been carried out, since it was believed to be a sting operation.

“We have to understand (that) one of the major concepts of a sting operation is deceit.

“When you talk about deceit, sting operations are planned to have this element of propaganda, element of treachery, element of ‘make believe’ (and) element of trying to deceive a potential criminal,” he explained.

Outer Shell

Speaking on Thursday’s edition of the programme, Onyekwelu expressed disappointment that Governor Nyesom Wike was able to interrupt the arrest of one of the judges at his residence in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital.

He stressed the importance of the strategy that ought to be used and questioned if the security operatives were capable and competent to carry out such operation.

“For example, there is what we call ‘the outer shell’.

“You have to block the entrance (and) position men at critical areas.

“It makes me to ask questions how come the Governor had access to go through this outer shell (and) come to the epicentre that he was able to influence what was going on there.

“You’re supposed to have an outer shell that is well-trained to contain and to stop any kind of politically exposed person that have got so much power.

“He (Wike) can tell you his concerns (while) you record them in your notebook and promise to get back to him in the next 24 hours, but not to give him access to influence what is going on,” he stated.

Although the DSS later justified its action by giving reasons for the arrest, the operation attracted criticisms from several notable Nigerians and professional bodies, including the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which asked the executive to release of the detained court justices.

femi-falana-speaks
Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana

Human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, however, blamed legal practitioners for the harassment of judges.

The agency subsequently released all the judges on self-recognition one day after their arrest but they are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to charge them to court continue.

The judges are accused of misconduct, corruption and had been under investigation by the DSS.

Judges Arrest: I Have No Objection To DSS’ Action – Abu Hamisu

Dr. Abu Hamisu, As reactions continue to trail the arrest of some judges over the weekend, a lecturer at the University of Abuja, Dr. Abu Hamisu, says he has no objection with the involvement of the Department of State Services (DSS) in the arrest.

The lecturer at the Political Science Department is of the opinion that if the government feels the DSS could play a crucial role in its anti-corruption campaign, there is nothing wrong with it.

“We’ve been advocating for collaboration and synergy building in such a way that all the security agencies can tap into the professionalism of one another depending on the case they want to prosecute.

“If (the) EFCC, ICPC and the government of the day feel that the DSS can be really decisive in the fight against corruption in this country, I have nothing against that,” the political scientist said.

Speaking on Tuesday on Sunrise Daily, Dr. Hamisu believes corruption is the cause of Nigeria’s underdeveloped stage, reiterating his stance on the DSS’ involvement.

“The most important thing is to ensure that corruption is really dealt with because the basis of our underdevelopment as a nation up to this very moment is corruption.

“For me, it’s something that has to do with those that are leading us and if they feel that they can give us result and DSS can play a role in this, I have no objection,” he insisted.

The academic warned that the future of the Nigerian child was at risk and called on stakeholders to tackle its menace headlong to ensure a brighter future.

“All we want is to ensure that we have a better future for our children.

“The future that we did not enjoy, the future that corruption denied us because some people were saddled with responsibilities that they abused and perverted,” he lamented.

Face-off With Wike

Dr. Hamisu’s remarks followed a face-off between the Governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike and some DSS officials who were on an assignment to arrest a Federal High Court judge in Port Harcourt.

Nyesom-Wike-Governor-of-Rivers-State
Governor Nyesom Wike prevented the arrest of a judge in Rivers State

On getting wind of the planned arrest, Governor Wike went to the residence of the judge with the aim of averting the arrest.

He stated that it would not be appropriate to arrest a judge at an odd hour when he has not been declared as a criminal, but invited to have a chat which they said was the motive of the arrest.

The arrest caught the attention of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which asked the executive to release of the judge and some order court justices.

While a human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, blames legal practitioners for harassment of judges, the DSS gave reasons for the arrest.

The DSS subsequently released all the judges on self-recognition.

However, they are to report at the agency’s office when requested to, as the investigation and preparation to charge them to court continue.

The judges are accused of misconduct corruption and had been under investigation by the DSS.

Why Falana Blames Legal Practitioners For Harassment Of Judges

Femi-FalanaA Nigerian lawyer and a human rights activist, Mr Femi Falana, says the lip service that legal practitioners pay to the menace of judicial corruption in Nigeria led to the harassment of judges.

Mr Falana gave the opinion in reaction to the arrests of some judges on Friday by the Department of State Services (DSS).

The DSS, which raided the official quarters of judges at Abuja, Gombe, Kano and Port Harcourt, said they were arrested for alleged misconduct and corrupt practices.

The arrests have raised diverse comments from lawyers and other groups, with most of them saying that the DSS’ act was unconstitutional.

But Mr Falana is taking a different stand on the issue.

He said: “It is a matter of grave concern that the legal profession has allowed the denigration of the hallowed temple of justice because of the misconduct of a few corrupt judges.

“For several years, judges who committed grave criminal offences were not prosecuted but merely retired by the authorities on the recommendation of the National Judicial Council.

“Although the National Judicial Council recently recommended the dismissal and prosecution of a judge for extorting the sum of 197 million Naira from a litigant the authorities had paid lip service to the menace of judicial corruption in the country.

“In particular, the Nigerian Bar Association which has information on all corrupt judges and lawyers in the country have continued to shield them to the embarrassment of incorruptible members of the bar and the bench.

“The few lawyers who have plucked up the courage to expose corrupt judges and lawyers have been stigmatised and treated like lepers by their colleagues.

“It is on record that when both the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sent invitation letters to judges suspected of corruption they had rushed to the Federal High Court to obtain interlocutory injunctions to prevent their arrest, investigation and prosecution”.

Account Of Negligence

Mr Falana further gave instances where legal practitioners have shielded corrupt colleagues, saying “about two years ago, an anti-graft agency found two billion Naira in the account of a high court judge. As soon as the judge was invited for questioning she reported and made a statement and was granted bail.

“But as she could not defend the lodgement in her bank account she obtained an interlocutory injunction from one of the judges in the custody of the State Security Service. (SSS)

“It is common knowledge that two Senior Advocates of Nigeria are standing trial in the Lagos High Court for allegedly bribing a judge. Even though it takes two to tangle the judge has not been charged to court for allegedly receiving bribe.

“Having failed to take advantage of the relevant statutory disciplinary bodies to purge the bar and the bench of corrupt elements the members of the legal profession have themselves to blame for the harassment of judges by security forces”.

The lawyer says it is on account of negligence on the part of the legal profession that the SSS which screens candidates before they are recommended by the National Judicial Council for appointment as judges has now engaged in the arrest of judges for alleged corruption and abuse of office.

He urged the bar and the bench to immediately strengthen their disciplinary bodies with a view to removing the few corrupt judges and lawyers whose criminal activities have continued to erode public confidence in the judiciary.

On the rights of the arrested persons, which many lawyers said was violated, Mr Falana said: “It is painful to note that, before now, the demand of the human rights community to the effect that the fundamental rights of lowly placed criminal suspects be respected by the Police and other security agencies has been treated with disdain.

“But having regard to the fact that judges and other influential citizens have since become victims of institutionalised abuse of official harassment, it is high time that all stakeholders demanded that every criminal suspect be treated with dignity in line with the provision of the Constitution and the Administration of Criminal Justice Act 2015”.

Giving his  opinion further on the rights of the arrested judges, the human rights activist also highlighted that since the detained judges are presumed innocent until the contrary is proved by the State, they should be admitted to bail in self recognisance.

He urged the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation to ensure that the suspects were arraigned in court without any further delay.

No Vendetta Against Past Leaders, Nigeria’s Presidency Says

garba Shehu, London Telegraph, Boko Haram,Nigeria’s presidency on Friday denied allegation by demonstrators in Bayelsa State on Thursday that allowances due to a former President have been stopped and his bank accounts frozen.

An official of Aso Rock Villa said the allegation was false.

“It is patently untrue.

“We have confirmed with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) that the former President and the other past leaders were paid their allowances up to the second quarter.

“The past leaders have not been paid third quarter allowances but will get their dues when remittances are received by the SGF from the Ministry of Finance.

“Also, the story of account closure is false. It is not known to the investigation agencies,” a spokesman for President Muhammadu Buhari, Mr Garba Shehu, said in a statement.

A Picture Of Vendetta

He stated that the National Security Adviser to the President, the Director General of the State Security Service, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Inspector General of Police were not aware of the bank account closure.

“With all of these agencies not being involved, how then could a thing like that happen? In a dream perhaps!

“To put it starkly, we believe there is a clear motive for the demonstration that is different from that which was being canvassed.

“This is a premeditated attempt to blame President Muhammadu Buhari for something he knows nothing about.

“These claims are false and poorly sourced to present a picture of vendetta; and they should be disregarded by well-meaning members of the public,” the statement further read.

Mr Shehu also stated that President Buhari remained committed to the ideals of justice and fairness to all irrespective of creed, religion and political leanings.

“His administration will not engage in vendetta,” he added.

Command Centre Relocation Has Aided Fight Against Boko Haram – Capt. Aliyu

Boko HaramSecurity Expert, Capt. Umar Aliyu (Rtd) believes that the recent successes being recorded by the Nigerian military in their fight against terrorism is due to the “new blood” that has been injected into the system.

“I am seeing what I can call participative kind of approach to leading troops which should be the case. I am seeing things being done differently. Let us underscore that with probably the ‘change fever’ in the air.

“I am seeing troop commanders who actually bond with their men by not running their battle by proxy. They take time to go there, to feel the ground, to occupy their battle space and that itself has been driven by the relocation of the command centre to Maiduguri,” he said.

Capt. Aliyu, who had been an advocate of the Command Centre relocation long before President Muhammadu Buhari gave the directive, maintained that just as he had expected, the move has aided the fight against Boko Haram.

“Its psychological, its human, it happens everyday even in our families. If you showed up in your son’s school for his competition and he was running, something is going to change about the way he’ll run that day.

“We are not saying that the Chief will perpetually sit there but when you’re actually there, more often than not, you’re going to begin to see, feel and hear first hand.”

The retired Army officer also acknowledged positive changes in the tactics being deployed by the military, noting that each time the troops recapture a new ground and hoist the Nigerian flag instead of the black flag of the insurgents, its emboldens the Nigerian soldiers and dis-emboldens the insurgents.

“We celebrate our successes (and) we are consistent about it even though its been slow.

“Then if you do post-General Buratai appointment, you will discover that in like 63 days, so much has been done and if we can ‘exponentiate’ 63 days and compare it to like three years – if every 63 days we can do this much, then by December the sun should have set on the insurgents.”

He, however, added that with the insurgents having also changed their tactics to mainly suicide bombings, this must be “complemented by three key parastatals”.

“The military cannot actually fit in as smugly into this issue of suicide bombing as it does into combat engagement in the northeast.

“The SSS or the DSS, the Civil Defence and the Police have key roles to play in driving the successes of eliminating suicide bombing attacks because suicide bombing itself exploits the gaps in our policing strategies.”

 

SSS Bursts Child Trafficking Syndicates, Rescues 36

sss on child trafficking A child trafficking syndicate that specialises in bringing underage children from the northern part of Nigeria to serve as house-helps, has been uncovered by the State Security Service (SSS) in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.

The security agency also rescued 36 victims.

While parading the suspects on Wednesday, the spokesperson for the State Director of Security, Friday Onuche, revealed that the group usually deceived the parents of the children by promising them that the children would get a better living condition and education.

He said: “There is need, therefore, for members of the public to be sensitised on the need to be circumspect in the way they give out children or take in children from such unscrupulous modern day slave traders.

The victims comprising 12 males and 24 females, whose age range between five and 14 years, have been brought into Bayelsa State to serve as maids.

The amount expected to get one of these kids as a living maid is the sum of 25,000 Naira.

According to reports, the syndicate is made up of four persons, three men who claimed to be pastors at a popular Nigerian church and a lady.

They are: Pastor Anthoy Onuibiyie (54) from Enugu State, Pastor Bala (41), Pastor Dauda Garda (32), both from Kebbi State and Miss Tonbra Alazigha (38) from Bayelsa.

Pastor Anthony Onuibiyie, who is said to be the leader of the group, travels to states to bring the children after those interested in the services of the children have made a payment of 12,000 Naira to cover the transportation.

It is also reported that this is not the first time the syndicates were being arrested by law enforcement agents, as they have been arrested by the Anambra State Police earlier in the year.

Miss Tonbra Alazigha is a single mother of five biological children. She is a proprietor of Christian Heritage School in Biogbolo, Yenagoa.

She has a charity organisation that is in charge of distributing the children to the different homes that they will serve. She has within the space of six months distributed 16 children in the state.

Some of the children, who narrated their ordeal to reporters, said that the missionaries, who arranged with their parents to place them in choice schools, handed them to foster parents.

“The pastors came to our villages in Zaria and convinced some parents, who are unable to train their children in schools. When we got to Bayelsa they took us to different homes.

“The woman I was asked to live with used to assign me to the farm and I also sold water for her. I no longer went to school. I started school at the beginning of the term but she told me to stop school now,” one of the children said.

Buhari Appoints Musa Daura As New Director-General of SSS

SSSPresident Muhamadu Buhari has appointed Lawal Musa Daura as the new Director-General Department of State Security Service (SSS).

The appointment was conveyed today in a letter by the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, Barrister Danladi Kifasi.

Lawal Musa Daura was born in Daura on the 5th of August, 1953. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1977 – 1980.

He started his career in the State Security Service (SSS) in 1982 and rose to the rank of Director.

He was at one time the Deputy Director Presidential Communication, Command and Control Centre at the Presidential Villa Abuja between 2003 and 2007.

He also served as the State Director of Security Service at various times in Kano, Sokoto, Edo, Lagos, Osun and Imo States.

He attended various professional courses both home and abroad including the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, (NIPSS) Kuru.

The appointment is with immediate effect.