CISLAC raises alarm over ‘DSS intimidation, profiling of CSOs during yuletide’

December 29, 2021
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The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and the National Chapter of Transparency International (TI Nigeria) has raised the alarm over the Department of State Services (DSS) intimidation, profiling of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) during the yuletide.

Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa aka Rafsanjani, raised the alarm in a letter to the Director General, DSS dated December 29, 2021, and titled: Intimidation & Profiling Of Civil Society Groups During The
Yuletide.

It read in part, “On Monday the 27th of December 2021, Operatives of your agency, the DSS stormed the premises of our office, the CISLAC, the National Chapter of Transparency International (TI Nigeria) at No 16 POW Mafemi Crescent, Off Solomon Lar Way, Jabi. Laying siege, the operatives demanded to see the Chief Security Officer of the building.

“On learning about this, our initial thought was that these were individuals masquerading as DSS agents considering the fact that this was not just during the holiday period, but it was on a day declared as a public holiday by the federal government of Nigeria.

“This thought was further reinforced by the fact that was no prior notice, invitation or pending request from your office regarding any of such visit. However, when we put a call through to the number dropped with our office security personnel, an individual further confirmed that he was an agent of your agency providing details of his position.

“Sir, considering recent activities of criminals using official security covers to perpetrate wanton criminalities in the recent past, we want you to use your good office to investigate those who carried out this visit and for what purpose(s).

“We will also request that you call these operatives to order and charge them to be civil in their approach and not militarise our nascent democracy.

“At this point, we cannot jump into conclusion as to the exact reasons behind this gestapo approach; however, this kind of unprofessional visits clearly violates existential rights guaranteed by the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and puts the country on a global map of ‘bad policing’ and seen shrinking voices of citizens demanding for good governance in the interest of all.

“Visits like these further feed fears that the country is gradually snowballing into autocracy with the regular abuse of powers from those parading themselves as agents of the state.

“As an organisation, we believe in the rule of law. We have complied with all statutes and thereby have not violated any law. We urge you to use your good office to put an end to this trend of shrinking civic space and the ongoing attempt to weaken democratic institutions to which the civil society community represents an aspect.”

When contacted, the DSS Public Relations Officer (PRO), Dr Peter Afunanya, tasked our correspondent to demand evidence of the evasion from the CSO.
“Why don’t you ask CISLAC what evidence it has that DSS evaded its office other than its suspicion and alarm,” he queried.

The spokesperson further queried: “What’s your take on the letter? Is it professional or objective journalism to publish the letter before asking for our reaction? What facts does the letter have?

“Is it enough to conclude that because some people came to a place, therefore they were DSS? Had there been similar false alarms against the DSS in the past?

“Is it possible some acclaimed journalists are fronts for the accusers of the Service? Who could such journalists be serving? Country and people or some individuals and extraneous interests? To each, let good conscience guide, please.”

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