A team of operatives from the State Security Service (SSS) on Monday allegedly laid siege on the office of the (Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa, its executive director, has said.
This was disclosed in a letter Mr Musa wrote to the Director General of the Service Yusuf Bichi, and obtained by PREMIUM TIMES.
CISLAC is a non governmental organisation that is actively participating in legislative advocacy. Its activities revolve mostly around the National Assembly.
Mr Musa, popularly known as Rafsanjani in the letter dated December 29, alleged that the operatives insisted on seeing the chief security officer (CSO) of the organisation.
In letter titled, ‘Intimidation and profiling of civil society groups during Yuletide’, the civil society described the action of the SSS operatives as “unprofessional.
“On Monday the 27th of December 2021, Operatives of your agency, the Department of State Security Services (DSS) stormed the premises of our office, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, the National Chapter of Transparency International, TI Nigeria at No 16 POW Mafemi Crescent, Off Solomon Lar Way, Jabi. Laying siege, the operatives demanded to see the Chief Security Officer of the building. On learning about this, our initial thought was that these were individuals masquerading as DSS agents considering the fact that this was not just during the holiday period, but it was on a day declared as a public holiday by the federal government of Nigeria.
“This thought was further reinforced by the fact that was no prior notice, invitation or pending request from your office regarding any of such visit. However, when we put a call through to the number dropped with our office security personnel, an individual further confirmed that he was an agent of your agency providing details of his position.
“Sir, considering recent activities of criminals using official security covers to perpetrate wanton criminalities in the recent past, we want you to use your good office to investigate those who carried out this visit and for what purpose(s). We will also request that you call these operatives to order and charge them to be civil in their approach and not militarize our nascent democracy.
“At this point, we cannot jump into conclusion as to the exact reasons behind this gestapo approach; however, this kind of unprofessional visits clearly violates existential rights guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and puts the country on a global map of ‘bad policing’ and seen shrinking voices of citizens demanding for good governance in the interest of all.
“Visits like these further feed fears that the country is gradually snowballing into autocracy with the regular abuse of powers from those parading themselves as agents of the state.
“As an organization, we believe in the rule of law. We have complied with all statutes and thereby have not violated any law. We urge you to use your good office to put an end to this trend of shrinking civic space and the ongoing attempt to weaken democratic institutions to which the civil society community represents an aspect, the letter partly read.
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SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, could not be reached for comments. He did not respond to calls and SMS from PREMIUM TIMES to him on Wednesday.
Intimidation by security agencies
The siege on the CSO office comes amidst alleged intimidation of critics of the federal government by security agencies.
For instance, in June, Operatives of the Service stormed the Adoration Ground, Enugu, allegedly to arrest its Spiritual Director, Ejike Mbaka, who lately became a critic of President Muhammadu Buhari. The cleric was reportedly invited by the Service afterwards.
In 2019, policemen and operatives of the SSS laid siege on the head office of DAAR Communications in Asokoro, Abuja.
Raymond Dokpesi, the proprietor of DAAR Communications, owners of the Africa Independent Television and Raypower, is a member of the country’s main opposition party, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
The SSS had in a statement in May this year, warned that it would no longer tolerate those aiming to throw the country into anarchy.
Mr Afunanya, who signed the statement, said among those threatening the federal government and Nigeria’s unity are “some religious and past political leaders who have either called for a forceful change of government or mass action against it.”
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