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Published On: Sun, Aug 24th, 2014

Between DSS and Boko Haram

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By Toby Idaomi

Marilyn Ogar, the spokeswoman for the Department of State Security (DSS), has made us aware that there is no much difference between the department and the deadly insurgency rampaging the entire country. She highlighted this on a popular sunrise program anchored by Channels TV. She was asked to explain the reasons behind the covering of DSS agents’ faces with hoods with no identification tags. She was being shrewd by not providing cogent reasons in her answer. When asked why DSS agents had sporadically fired into the air during the recently concluded Osun elections, she defensively responded by asking the interviewer to tell her exactly how many had fired into the air.

I watched bemusedly at her flailing responses and wondered how Nigeria’s DSS, the equivalent of the US’ CIA or Britain’s MI6, ended up becoming an exclusive political instrument of the ruling PDP party. On the other hand, Boko Haram members are known to wear hoods and shooting sporadically like the DSS. In order words, should the DSS also be termed a “terrorist agency” working for the PDP, with Marilyn Ogar as their de facto spokeswoman?

Security organizations, especially a secret service like DSS, are meant to be professional, responsible and dispassionate information seekers with a primary responsibility to provide security for the people, control crime and facilitate the prosecution of crimes as necessary. DSS should never be seen to be partisan, but the spokeswoman has suggested that the agency is, indeed, partisan in publicly admitting that DSS was aware of PDP’s attempts to bribe its officers during the Osun election but carried out no arrests or prosecutions. Hear what she said: “The president has told us not to be arresting people but rather they should use the carrot approach”. It is disappointing seeing a director of a highly placed agency talking from both sides of her mouth like OlisaMetuh and ridiculing the agency she’s representing.

When she was reminded that the ever intelligent spokesman of APC, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, was arrested with other innocent APC members and detained before, during and after the Osun election, she maligned her organisation by deflecting and explaining that as far as she was aware Lai Mohammed is from Kwara state. This response suggested that it is against the law to live or move around freely in any part of Nigeria. She displayed very little knowledge of the constitution in suggesting that Alhaji Mohammed was arrested for “wandering”.

My dear readers, I ask you which part of the Nigerian Constitution prosecutes for wandering? But in the case of the bribery that she alleged, she claimed the president advised DSS to be using the carrot method. Let me remind spokeswoman Ogar that bribery is a criminal offence that should be investigated and prosecuted. It is not to be treated simply as a topic for talk show like she did when she appeared before Channels TV.

The first time I watched her antecedent was during the investigation of the murder of Olaitan Oyerinde. The way and manner she handled the situation was porous and Ogar did not express herself as a professional. Instead she portrayed herself like one of the flamboyant politicians around. So many times this woman has damaged the reputation of her organization, and through her unguarded and unprofessional utterances she has committed violence upon the psyche of Nigerians.

She has equally painted the organization as a terrorist wing of Boko Haram because only terrorists wear hoods to cover their faces and shooting randomly. According to a Premium Times editorial, Ogar’s latest attempts to link some “unnamed” members of the opposition, APC, to the Boko Haram insurgency along with other questionable pronouncements against perceived opponents of the ruling federal government, consistently portrayed her organization as a mere tool for political propaganda and intimidation rather than the professional security institution it ought to be.

It is worrisome to see the DSS dishing out flimsy propaganda and presenting it as information. Ms Ogar also disparaged the Bring Back Our Girls movement and she referred to them as a “franchise”. This accusation by Ogar is an irresponsible charge against a movement demanding that the government and security apparatus of the state should rise up to their responsibilities. The problem with Ms Ogar is that she makes these porous allegations with no evidence thereby showing her partisanship and also reducing assertions to political statements. Methink this woman should publicly join the PDP, and either replace Olisa Metuh or better yet, she can replace Rueben Abati since she has shown she is part and parcel of PDP.

After all we have all seen what transpired during Osun election, it is clear that hooded DSS officers and some 60,000 security officials were deployed to Osun to aid PDP in capturing Osun, but failed due to the ever-rugged nature of Osun electorates. The leadership of the DSS should disown this woman NOW because she has done enough damage to the reputation of the organization with her partisanship and she should be given the red card as she is clearly unfit for that organization. Thank God, Professor Jega of INEC came out to lash out at the hooded overzealous DSS officials used during the Osun election. If the organization continues to parade its officials with hooded face and behaving in a way not befitting, the general public should regard them as terrorists and a wing of Boko Haram.

Toby Idaomi is on linkedIn

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