The invasion of the National Assembly by masked men from the Department of State Service (DSS) has continued to generate debates among members of the public in Nigeria. An Ilorin-based legal practitioner, Taye Oniyide however speaks on the issue with our JUDICIARY CORRESPONDENT, KAYODE ADEOTI. Excerpts:
Recently, residences of the Senate President and his deputy were under siege, two days ago, the national Assembly was invaded by masked men of Department of State Service (DSS), how do you see these scenarios…?
A lot of care needs to be taken on this issue before one takes a position on it looking at the fact that the Assembly has gone on recess. One can also view it from the angle that all members of the National Assembly have not been called to reconvene, therefore, any attempt by any set of lawmakers to meet might not be for any other thing than sinister motive. The law enforcement agency were caught up in the web of been partisan, there were debate among members of the public that DSS invaded the place to stop the plans of some people who want to impeach the Senate President and many other issues like that. My worry is that the development portends a lot of danger to our democracy. As we move into electoral period, a lot of maturity needs to be employed. High dose of maturity is expected from our politicians in order to ensure our democracy is sustained. As it is now, they are not laying good examples for Nigerians because whatever happens, it’s the common man that will suffer the consequence not them, they must have the interest of common man at heart. On the issue of invasion, it’s very difficult to take a position, I don’t want to be partisan because this issue can be viewed from both angles. If chaos eventually resulted from that drama, the law enforcement agency will be at the receiving end because if a faction of members of the National Assembly plan to meet and another faction decided to disturb the peace of the former, then it will call for the attention of the security agency. But if it is true that the security agency were been partisan by blocking the lawmakers from going into their offices, that is condemnable.
Since the Presidency has debunk giving any order to the various heads of security agencies, where would you say the orders are emanating from?
It is simple, the buck stops on the table of whoever is heading each of those agencies, there is no doubt about that. If a police man claims that the order that guided his action is coming from the powers that be or from above, what a reasonable man will think of is the Inspector General of Police. If the heads of those agencies are claiming that the order is from above then, it has to be from the presidency. That is the only way one can view this issue and that actually explains it. In the matter of the National Assembly invasion, we all see where order came from and the action of the presidency on it. The Director of the DSS has been kicked out following the order of the acting President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN. He was able to rekindle the hope of Nigerians in the democracy by ordering the sack of the DSS boss, Lawal Daura.
Going by the prevalence of crimes, atrocities in the country, what is your perceptions of our security operatives in Nigeria?
I will have to be personal about this, I’m not impressed. They have taken some positions which are questionable. You will see them taking action sometimes and you will applaud, and when it comes to another aspect, you see a different ball game. One thing that has continued to dazzle me is the number of police officers we deploy for elections exercise and the few numbers that attend to situation that has to do with human lives, this is unfair and disturbing. Imagine what the number deployed to Ekiti State during the last election, 30,000 force men, if we could have such number across the states where existence of lives is been threatened, then we won’t complain because we will rather be applauding the government. Personal self ambition has become the primary duty of our government. This doesn’t make me happy and I won’t rate our security agencies high.
How do you see the issue of frequent police invitation to the Senate President in connection with the Offa Bank robbery…?
Looking at this issue from the mind of the law, from the first invitation, I made it clear that the police is wrong on its moves. Police has not been able to lay their hands on anything serious to which they can use to attach the person of the Senate President to the crime that was committed in Offa. There was almost nothing they can hold on to. I’m glad I read the letter that came from the Federal DP, Ministry of Justice in respect of the matter. He made it clear that nothing was proved against the Senate President to establish a case against him. We should also be careful of media trial over this issue. The true position of this issue is vendetta. Few weeks to that Offa robbery incident, the Senate called on IGP to speak on the spate of killings in Nigeria and some other issues, he refused to go.