The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to serial allegations by sections of the media particularly the *Punch and Daily Trust Newspapers* that the Service is illegally detaining some Nigerians. Of specific mention were Abubakar IDRIS (aka Dadiyata) and Agba JALINGO said to have been arrested in Kaduna and Cross River States respectively by the Service. Another was Punch Newspaper’s wild allegation in its publications of 6th and 29th December, 2019 that over 50 suspects are being held by the Service under excruciating conditions and “routinely tortured”.
These allegations, to say the least, are spurious and can only be taken for what they are – deliberate and subversive campaigns of calumny to undermine the Service and cast it in bad light before the public. That IDRIS was taken away from his house by some armed men does not suggest that those men were DSS staff. It was expected that Daily Trust and Punch should have properly conducted their investigations before holding the Service responsible for the acts it did not commit.
For the sake of emphasis, the Service has no reasons to deny its arrest and detention of suspects if actually it carried out operations during which such persons were arrested.
It is not out of place for security and law enforcement agencies to arrest and detain law breakers or those suspected to be.
The arrest and detention of suspects are procedural and undergo continuous review. In certain conditions, some are routinely questioned and released while others are granted administrative bail. Some who are still under investigation or already undergoing prosecution are held on the basis of Court orders.
Suspect handling is a critical aspect of the Service’s responsibility and this is taken seriously without any form of compromise. It diligently carries out this function in strict compliance with the criminal justice administration system and intelligence governance procedures absolutely necessary for consolidating democratic ideals in Nigeria.
It is, however, important to state that suspects in the Service’s detention are not “routinely tortured”. Such accusation by the Punch or any other media outfit for that matter is only imaginary and a creation of the concerned newspapers.
It is, therefore, disappointing that the Daily Trust and Punch would use screaming and sensational headlines to negatively profile the Service.
For instance, the Daily Trust in one of its features of 31st December, 2019, reported that “*Four Months after, Family drags … DSS to Court over Missing Activist”. In the same vein, the Punch Newspaper had earlier on 29th December, 2019 used “*Sad Tales of Other Illegal Detainees Trigger Concerns”. In these misleading accounts, the Newspapers under reference reeled out falsehood against the Service.
The Daily Trust Newspaper did not even believe some of the enquiries it had made from both the Kaduna Commands of the Service and the Police which had shown that IDRIS was not held by the Service.
Furthermore, the newspapers have not brought forward any evidence(s) to the contrary that the suspects so referred in their write ups are in DSS custody.
The style so far adopted by these two otherwise respected newspapers negate the ethics of professional media practice.
Their positions and similar ones suggest that the country should probably be left lawless, chaotic and allowed to be taken over by criminals while the agencies go to slumber for fear of being unduly castigated or maligned.
The Service is a professional body and a major stakeholder in Nigeria’s democratic governance. Its operations are guided by strict rules and procedures. It is mindful of the rights of citizens and will, however, continue to perform its statutory roles without let or fear. It will hinge such practice on the rule of law, respect for citizens’ rights and support for constituted authorities.
It is believed that the Punch and Daily Trust will not engage in any acts that are capable of undermining national security and as such, patriotically recommit themselves and with deep sense of responsibility, to the pursuit of peace and order.
The Service is dedicated to a robust collaboration with stakeholders, especially the media. But it wishes to categorically state that it will, henceforth, not condone acts of misrepresentation and falsehood against it and in this regard, will explore legal options to seek redress.
Peter Afunanya, Ph.D
Public Relations Officer,
Department of State Services,
31st December, 2019