DSS invasion: A’Ibom lawmakers threaten legal action
Urge, Buhari, N’Assembly to institute full investigation
WITH one united voice, all the 26 members of the Akwa Ibom State House have demanded full apologies to the government and people from the leadership of the Department of State Services, (DSS) over the last Thursday’s alleged invasion of the Government House Uyo by the personnel of the Service.
Failure of the DSS to apologise to the government and the people within seven days, beginning from yesterday, the lawmakers, rising from their meeting in Abuja, yesterday said they would go ahead to press charges against the DSS for alleged breach of their governor’s rights and privileges.
Briefing senior journalists in Abuja yesterday, the lawmakers, who were led by their Speaker, Hon. Aniekan Okon noted that the event of last week at the official residence of the Governor Mr. Emmanuel Udom had desecrated the symbol of governance of the state and had brought the state to a serious ridicule.
The lawmakers stressed that by the alleged invasion, the rights of their governor under the law had been breached, saying that the governor should enjoy the immunity that the President enjoys.
In the resolution, which was signed by all the 25 members of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in the State Assembly as well as the lone member of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC), the lawmakers said, “On Thursday, September 3, 2015, the very essence of our democracy and our freedom were shamelessly assaulted by terrorists masking as operatives of the department of State Security Service, otherwise known as SSS.
“In a broad daylight, and in a fully democratic country where the rule of law is sacrosanct; a special squad of the SSS consisting of operatives from Abuja and a detachment from Uyo, in a commando style, launched a brazen attack on the official residence of our Executive Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel.
“During the raid, the rampaging SSS operatives broke into rooms and guest houses within the Government House, which is one of the strongest symbols of our confederacy and in the process damaged valuables belonging to the Government and people of Akwa Ibom State.”
The lawmakers, who disputed claims that the DSS personnel recovered stockpile of arms and bale of dollars, saying as the representatives of the people, they are submitting that nothing of such was recovered in the raid.
Quoting the relevant sections of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, the lawmakers alleged that the actions of the DSS operatives under Mr. Musa Lawal Daura had breached the rights of the governor of the state, which had clear immunity from prosecution for any action he takes, while still occupying the position.
‘Since the Constitution has clearly freed the Governor from being brought under court warrant in the discharge of his legitimate duties, it is on record that before embarking on that ill-advised operation, the SSS never communicated with the Governor of Akwa Ibom State, who is also the chief security officer of the state, on why it was necessary to search his official residence in Uyo.
For the avoidance of doubt, Section 308 (1, 2, 3) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) provides as follows:
(1) Notwithstanding anything to the contrary in this Constitution, but subject to subsection (2) of this section:
a) no civil or criminal proceedings shall be instituted or continued against a person to whom this section applies during his period of office;
b) a person to whom this section applies shall not be arrested or imprisoned during that period either in pursuance of the process of any court or otherwise;
and (c) no process of any court requiring or compelling the appearance of a person to whom this section applies, shall be applied for or issued: Provided that in ascertaining whether any period of limitation has expired for the purposes of any proceedings against a person to whom this section applies, no account shall be taken of his period of office.
(2) The provisions of subsection (1) of this section shall not apply to civil proceedings against a person to whom this section applies in his official capacity or to civil or criminal proceedings in which such a person is only a nominal party.
(3) This section applies to a person holding the office of President or Vice-President, Governor or Deputy Governor; and the reference in this section to “period of office” is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.
“It is important to point out that immunity from prosecution and persecution is a well-founded, well-reasoned concept, which has sundry benefits when applied honestly and carefully for the greater good of society.
“It thus means that a sitting state Governor or President of Nigeria, during the subsistence of term of office, must have a free hand to act boldly and courageously for public good. In doing so, such a Governor or President would not be hindered by fear for self, for repercussion of actions embarked upon, for general public interest of a state or for clearly defined national interests.
“Unfortunately, while the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Vice President as well as the Governors and Deputy Governors across the country are protected under Constitutional Immunity, the Governor of Akwa Ibom State has been singled out and stripped of this right which provided for him under the law.
“We are firm in the belief that if the raid on the Hilltop Mansion was not an act of felony, persecution and political vendetta, the DSS would have declared their mission before unleashing terror on innocent workers of Akwa Ibom State Government and or openly declare to the authorities in the state what they found and what they took away from our Government House.”
According to Okon: “It is only on the media that we get conflicting reports that stockpiles of arms and United States dollars where uncovered. As lawmakers and representatives of the people, we wish to place it on record that no arms or stacks of money were found in Akwa Ibom State Government House.
“We also condemn in the strongest terms, the illegal assault on the symbol of our pride and the embodiment of the confederacy of Akwa Ibom State in the Nigerian Federation by the Daura-led State Security Service.
“We, hereby challenge the Director General of the SSS, Alhaji Lawal Musa Daura, to tell the people of Akwa Ibom State, Nigerians and indeed lovers of democracy all over the world, why he ordered the ill-fated operation on the Akwa Ibom State Government House.
“The people of Akwa Ibom State will hold Mr. Daura and the SSS responsible if any unforeseen incident befalls the Governor, his Deputy or key officials of Akwa Ibom State Government.”
They all called on Nigerians from all walks of life and other lovers of democracy to rise up and overwhelmingly challenge acts of impunity by the political class and security operatives in the country, including the State Security Service.
“We also invite President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the National Assembly to launch proper investigation into the ridiculous action of the SSS. We are shocked that the SSS which is currently purging officers it claimed to have shown unconcealed partisanship should descend so low to the extent of staging a coup d’état on our governor, simply because he belongs to an opposition party. “Nigerians must resist the rising level of political intolerance and violence that ignore our laws, insult our common humanity and our claims to civilisation.
“It is very unfortunate that the dominant political players who profess “change and the rule of law” would willingly and so soon fail to walk the talk. They who accused others of impunity are now by their own conduct condoning impunity.
“We advise that our politicking should exclude looking for scapegoats and or conspiracies, because at the end, violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only genuine democracy, reconciliation and the rule of law would unite our country and prosper our people.
“As a people with an abiding love for our fundamental human rights and liberties as enshrined in the Constitution, we must not just show revulsion to the rape on Akwa Ibom State Government House.
“We must as Nigerian make concrete commitment to work together, irrespective of our political, ethnic and religious backgrounds, to defeat the enemies of peace and the rule of law in our midst.
“It is, therefore, on this note that we pledge that the House of Assembly and indeed the people of Akwa Ibom State will take every necessary action within the law, to protect and preserve our federacy in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”