Committee for the Defence of Human Rights (CDHR) has berated the Department of State Services (DSS) on their embarrassing conduct in preventing the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission from carrying out its legitimate statutory duty, especially in the fight against corruption, particularly financial crimes.
The DSS was involved in a show of might with men of the EFCC who were to legitimately execute a search as well as an arrest warrant on Mr. Ekpenyong Ita, the immediate past Director General (DG) of the DSS, at his Asokoro residence in Abuja. It will be recalled that Mr. Ekpenyong Ita had been alleged to be involved in financial crime in the arms scam involving the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), for which the NSA is already standing trial.
In a statement issued by CDHR, signed by its National Publicity Secretary, Comrade Henry Peter Ekine and made available to the Press, the group decried the level to which the DSS degenerated in professionalism and displayed crass overzealousness in their purported defence of a citizen alleged to have been involved in financial crime. The statement tagged the incident as unfortunate, unprofessional and an embarrassment to Nigeria and Nigerians; the incident could best be described as a fight of sort between two agencies of Government.
The Group further stated that in all reasonable considerations, the refusal of the DSS operatives to allow the EFCC to carry out its legitimate statutory duty to execute valid search and arrest warrants on Mr. Ekpenyong could only be imagined in a state of lawlessness; it is absolutely condemnable and CDHR firmly condemned the DSS for that conduct.
Comrade Henry submitted that the provisions of section 6 (a) to (q) particularly (b), (c) and (h) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, empowered the EFCC as the statutory agency to investigate, coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes in Nigeria. Under paragraphs (j), (k), (l), (m), (n) and particularly (o) of the same section 6 of the Act, other institutions and security agencies, including the DSS, are required to collaborate with the EFCC in the discharge of its statutory functions.
The statement by the foremost human rights group further stated that the EFCC Act, under section 7, particularly subsection (1) (a) and (b), provides special powers to the Commission, including the power to cause investigation to be conducted on any person or property on matters or allegations relating to economic and financial crimes. The group also observed that the conduct of the DSS operatives amounted to unlawful obstruction of the EFCC to carry out its functions. It questions the commitment of the Government on the fight against corruption.
CDHR, therefore, called on the DSS and President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately direct the operatives of the DSS to abide by our laws and allow the EFCC to do its legitimate statutory duties; the rule of law must prevail against arbitrariness and alternatives which have no credence under our laws. All citizens must submit themselves to the law, and security agencies must not be seen to protect supposed powerful individuals against the state or against other citizens.