The blatant violation of the federal character in the employment at the DSS speak to the inauspicious stewardship of Lawal Daura as the boss of the DSS.

There is always something queasy when a president reaches back into the past to resurrect the career of a retired officer to head an organisation like the Department of State Services (DSS) swarming with ambitious officers. Yet when Lawal Musa Daura was appointed Director-General of the DSS by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2015, not one murmur of protest was heard.

The President’s preference for ‘home boys’ was well-known, but despite misgivings about nepotism, Nigerians felt the President was entitled to those he could trust for a position like the Director-General of the DSS

On hindsight, he was manifestly a wrong choice especially in a democratic dispensation. He had no regard for the Constitution, as he had little consideration for individual liberties and no respect for the laws of the land. He spent much of his career during Nigeria’s lengthy military dictatorship. He retired as a deputy director. To be recalled from retirement and appointed Director-General was a huge quantum leap. He could not make a successful transition. Last week, however, Lawal Daura led his elite security force into an unusual operation which, for all practical purposes, shut down the National Assembly which, finally, cost him his job and, perhaps, his freedom.

Details of how he ended up on that ignominious patch is still sketchy but his counterpart in the Nigeria Police, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, was referring to him unsympathetically as a “principal suspect” under arrest who would need further interrogation and whose homes, phones and computers need to be searched for more evidence of his crimes. It was the considered view of the IGP that Mr. Lawal “may be acting the script of some highly placed politicians to achieve some selfish political goals hence his unilateral and unlawful decision to invade the National Assembly complex.”

The statute establishing the DSS, the National Security Act (Decree No. 19) of 1986, entrusts the agency with the responsibility of curtailing insecurity in the nation. Mr. Daura, however, seems to be unable to do the job according to the law. Section 35 (4)(5) of the 1999 Constitution guarantees that anyone arrested and detained “shall be brought before a court of law” within 24 hours and tried in a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres or 48 hours if the court is farther than 40 kilometres. He or she must be released if not tried within a period of two months from the date of his arrest if he is still in custody, or three months if he has been released on bail. Lawal Daura has never demonstrated any respect for those constitutional provisions.

The cases of former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, Ibrahim el-Zakzaky, who have now been detained for more than two and a half years, and others like them, have become scandals demonstrating how the DSS picks and chooses the court orders it obeys. Dasuki and el-Zakzaky have been grated bails many times by Nigerian courts, but the DSS has continued to detain them.

When he shut down the National Assembly with armed DSS agents who wore hoods signaling a grievous situation, Nigerians were so alarmed because it looked like the end of the democratic experiment. The TV footage had all the appearances of a putsch. Daura did a poor job in the DSS during his tenure. There was not a single successful investigation of note done by the agency. When the agency arrested several Nigerian judges, including justices of the Supreme Court, we had thought the agency would have done a thorough job before embarking on such high stake arrests. None of the judges was found guilty of anything. After nearly 10 years of the terrorism of Boko Haram, Nigerians had expected DSS to have been able to get into the inner workings of the terrorists. Boko Haram continues its bombing campaigns in the North-East region and still keeps in captivity more than 110 Chibok girls kidnapped since 2014.

There could be no doubt that the Daura-led DSS had a personal axe to grind with the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, having written two unproven negative reports to forestall his confirmation by the Senate. The IGP’s report on the DSS last week confirmed that there was no love lost between the Daura-led DSS and the Nigeria Police. If the issue is agency rivalry, it has been at the expense of the nation. Indeed, the Daura-led DSS was indeed covering his fellow Director-General at the National Intelligence Agency, Ayo Oke, who had squirreled nearly $45 million into a private flat in Ikoyi, Lagos, unknown to any of his directors.

Daura’s unwarranted arrest of Ekiti legislators in 2016, hostile search and seizures by his agents in Cross River State, the raid on Akwa Ibom Government House in 2015, the harassment of journalists Jones Abiri, his prolonged detention, and the arrest of Tony Ezimakor of the Independent newspaper, the blatant violation of the federal character in the employment at the DSS, and so many other issues, speak to the inauspicious stewardship of Lawal Daura as the boss of the DSS. We look forward to an independent and transparent inquiry into his stewardship and the circumstances surrounding his shutting down of the National Assembly.



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