The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara has revealed why the lower legislative chamber is investigating some activities of Nigeria’s secret police, State Security Service (DSS).
Speaking at a two-day investigative hearing by the ad-hoc committee set up to investigate all cases of invasion of property and arrest of persons for reasons outside the general duties of state security service (SSS), Mr Dogara said the activities of the Directorate of State Security Service of late have raised concerns in the Nigerian polity as to the propriety of the conduct of officials of the service.He said the task of the committee is to make appropriate findings of fact.
“It appears however that the main catalyst for this motion is the manner of the alleged invasion and search of the homes of Supreme Court Justices and other senior justices of superior Courts carried out by officials of the DSS, some of whom were said to be hooded, in the wee hours of the morning recently and the subsequent arrest and indeed prosecution of some of the Judges and Justices,” he said.
Mr Dogara added that “the executive and legislative arms of some State governments have also been affected by these searches and arrests. These incidents have attracted solemn public interest and, therefore, become a matter of urgent national importance. This investigation is Parliament’s response to these wide spread concerns.
The National Security Agencies Act of 1986 which was incorporated into the 1979 and 1999 Constitutionsstates “The State Security Service shall be charged with responsibility for-
(a) the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria;
(b) the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria; and
(c) such other responsibilities affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary.”
Citing the above section of the constitution, the Speaker said “It seems that provisions of paragraph (C) above departs from the normal constitutional framework set up by Sections 4, 5, and 6 of the Constitution that instituted separation of powers of the three arms of government, as it apparently gives direct legislative powers to the President to enlarge the scope of responsibilities of the SSS relating to internal security within Nigeria.
“Section 6 of the Act goes further to empower the President to issue an Instrument, a subsidiary legislation, on the manner in which the SSS should exercise its powers.”
He enjoin the committee to make relevant findings of fact that will enable the National Assembly initiate the necessary amendments to the National Security Agencies Act and even the Constitution where necessary to ensure conformity with the constitutional design.
He poised that it is untidy it seems, to have multiple agencies exercising similar functions.
“The EFCC already handles issues of corruption and economic crimes in Nigeria. Should the State Security Service also be charged with the same functions?” he asked.
Mr Dogara request that the chairman and members of the committee to consult widely with relevant stakeholders and come up with a Report on the way forward that solves the identified problems.