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Promoting Good Governance.

Why Daura is the shortest-serving DSS boss since 1999

MR. Lawal Daura, who yesterday joined the list of ex- director-generals of the Department of State Security Services, DSS, is the fourth person to hold that office since the return of the civil rule in 1999. He is also the shortest-serving boss of the security agency, having spent 3 years, one week in office. 

He was appointed on July 1, 2015, and dismissed on August 7 2018.  

His predecessors, Colonel Kayode Are (1999- August 2007), Afakriya Gadzama (August 2007- September 2010), and Ita  Ekpeyong (September 2010- July 2015), spent longer term.

Gadzama, whose principal, President Umaru Yar’dua, died before the completion of a four-year term stayed two months longer. Why is Daura, a kinsman of the President Muhammadu Buhari,  the shortest -serving DG of DSS? Here are the possible reasons based on the recent events. 

One, Daura-led DSS is the first to illegally invade the National Assembly complex with a mission to prevent senators from meeting. The acting President Yemi Osinbajo confirmed that the invasion was unauthorised, an act which, according to many observers, threatened the tenets of democracy.  There were other actions of the DSS under DG Daura which conceivably threatened Nigeria’s democracy. 

File Photo: DSS operatives invaded the National Assembly premises yesterday, preventing senators and the Assembly workers from entering

At different times, the DSS has disobeyed court rulings, including a ruling by the Ecowas Court of Justice that declared the detention of Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), former National Security Adviser, by the DSS  illegal.

The regional court did not only grant bail to the country’s former National Security Adviser but also ordered the Federal Government to pay him a fine of N15m. Till date, that order has been ignored, and ECOWAS has insisted that the order is binding, and has therefore threatened heavy sanctions against Nigeria if it fails to obey the order.

The case of the leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife, Zeenatudeen, drew more outrage both from the public, especially members of IMN and right groups. Despite the court order for their release, the couple is yet to regain freedom from the DSS custody. 

In the like manner, the security service has kept Jones Abiri a journalist from Bayelsa State in detention on the charges of terrorism, and refused to arraign him in court despite calls by civil society.  

According to the agency,  Abiri is General Akotebe DARIKORO,  the leader of the Joint Revolutionary Council of the Joint Niger Delta Liberation Force (JNDLF), which has been furthering separatist tendencies in connivance with other criminal gangs in the Niger Delta region.  And for two years he was denied access to a fair hearing in court, until last week. 

In contrast, the DSS prevented the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from arresting his predecessor Ita Ekpeyong and the NIA director, Ayo Oke who have been accused of corruption. 

The EFCC had invited Ekpeyong for his alleged role in the arms scam involving Dasuki, and other service chiefs who have since been arraigned. The Commission also invited Oke for questioning in connection with the $43 million found in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos which belongs to his wife. But Daura would have none of that. A source at the agency said Daura considered it an insult to have another security agency arrest a senior officer of the secret service.

But it was the same DSS that attempted to arrest some lawmakers such as senator Dino Melaye and some judges without a court warrant.

The excesses of the DSS boss came to a hilt when according to a Premium Times report, he ordered a siege on the National Assembly without an order to do so.

He would later tell the acting President Osinbajo, who questioned his action,  that he got the order from the President.

“When Lawal Daura came in, the acting president asked him who cleared him to order operatives to lay siege on the National Assembly; and his response was ‘shocking’.

“He simply said it’s within his powers and that he is only answerable to the President and Commander-in-Chief who appointed him,” the source told Premium Times.”

Observers of events in Nigeria believe that DG Daura has overstepped his power one time too many, and that is the reason he has to go.

A former Deputy Director at the DSS, Denis Amachree, in fact, described his action treasonable.

“The leadership of an intelligence agency should know that there is what is called (the principle of) separation of power, and if he (the DSS DG) is worth his salt, even if he was directed to do that, he would have sat everybody down and say ‘we cannot do this because it is not constitutional’,” Amachree said.

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