Rivers N’Assembly caucus condemns arrest of REC by DSS
Members of the National Assembly from Rivers State have faulted the Department of State Services (DSS) invitation to the Resident Electoral Commissioner (REC), Mrs. Gesila Khan, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials, and the panels handling petitions arising from the conduct of the 2015 elections in their state.
The lawmakers accused the DSS of partisanship with the intention of influencing outcome of the matters before the Rivers State election petition tribunals. They raised the alarm over what they described as “creeping dictatorship”, and urged the DSS to limit itself to its role as an unbiased, non-partisan organisation with the aim of defending state security.
The Rivers caucus which carpeted the operatives of the DSS yesterday specifically alleged that the security agency had recently resorted to intimidation of electoral officers connected with the handling of matters relating to the 2015 general elections held in Rivers State as well as the election petitions.
Leader of the caucus, Senator George Thompson-Sekibo, who addressed a press conference in Abuja yesterday noted that the functions of the DSS were limited to crimes bothering on internal security of the country such as the Boko Haram threat, but wondered why the agency is allegedly enmeshed in matters relating to election petitions in Rivers State.
Sekibo, flanked by other members of the caucus, including the Chairperson of the House of Representatives Rivers State caucus, Betty Apiafi, accused the DSS of plotting to “witch-hunt, coerce and intimidate” electoral and judicial officers connected with the handling of the matters, saying the alleged arrest and detention of Khan was one too many.
Giving insight into the matter, the Senator disclosed that the Rivers State REC and her officers were orally invited to the DSS office in Abuja over a petition by a litigant at the election tribunal and she honoured the invitation with her senior officers on Tuesday 22, July 2015, “only for her to be arrested and detained till about 10pm on Wednesday, 23 July with further instructions to report to the DSS daily.”
ccording to Sekibo, “The invitation and subsequent arrest of Mrs. Khan followed the private visit of the ex-governor of Rivers State, Rotimi Amaechi, to the Director of SSS on or about Tuesday, 7 July 2015.
“We are constrained to conclude that part of the script being played by the DSS is to concoct evidence in support of the petitioners’ case at the tribunal where the petitioners pleaded that they shall rely on security reports at the trial, particularly ‘the SSS report’.
“It is also not a coincidence that the invitation to parties (INEC officers) came after the private visit of Amaechi to the Director of SSS on or about Tuesday the 7th day of July 2015. Shortly after his visit, Amaechi assured the petitioners that ‘the DSS is game.’”
The federal lawmakers said: “The ultimate goal of the present administration, we believe is the unity and sanctity of a Nigerian state where rule of law against the rule of force would reign supreme. Therefore, political biases or primordial sentiments should not becloud our collective drive to achieving that.
“We condemn very strongly this action of DSS and call on them to desist from further politically motivated arrest of citizens, but continue to play the role as an unbiased, non-partisan agency, with the aim of defending internal security of the Nigerian state.”