Senate knocks DSS, reviews powers of security agencies

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On Tuesday, the Senate condemned the DSS for its clampdown on some judges across the country over the weekend.

It has therefore ordered a review of the laws establishing all security agencies while mandating its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to review the aspects dealing with the powers of security agencies and put them in line with the tenets of democracy.

The committee is to submit its report in four weeks.

The Senate also called on Buhari to caution all security agencies and direct them to observe the rule of law in the discharge of their statutory duties.

The lawmakers condemned the action of the DSS, stressing that the security agency went outside the confines of its constitutional powers, which amounted to the usurpation of the powers of the NJC.

The Senate, however, rejected a recommendation that the Director-General of the DSS be summoned to explain to the Chamber what informed the action of the agency against the judicial officers.

The resolutions were made by the lawmakers, sequel to the motion of urgent public importance, brought to the floor of the Senate by Joshua Lidani (PDP, Gombe South), who raised questions on the action of the DSS, praying the Senate to intervene.

While leading the debate on the motion, Lidani said he was alarmed that such unconstitutional action could be adopted by the DSS to sanitise the Judiciary.

He said, “I am alarmed that the extra-constitutional approach to sanitise the judiciary in line with the war against corruption is bound to be counterproductive because it erodes the role of the judiciary and undermines the importance of the judiciary as well as demoralises many patriotic and upright judges who have determined to support the crusade against corruption”.

Lidani, who is a lawyer, said the DSS had no constitutional right to arrest or molest judiciary officers, arguing that the action of the agency was ultravires, unconstitutional, illegal, null and avoid.

 Senator Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), opined that even though it was true that the judiciary was currently very corrupt with empirical evidences, and despite his total support for the ongoing fight against corruption, the DSS went outside its constitutional mandate, and must be cautioned in the interest of democracy.

He said, “It is also a celestial truth that judges have been dishing out what I call commercial rulings; it is also a fundamental truth that judges need to face the full wrath of the law, especially where the issue of corruption is concerned. This Senate, therefore, will continue to celebrate the war against corruption either in the judiciary, the legislature or the executive.

“The responsibility of the DSS is clearly defined in the National Security Agencies Act 2010, Cap 350, which states clearly that the State Security Services shall be charged with the responsibility for the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against internal security of Nigeria. I emphasise the ‘Internal security of Nigeria’.

“The second responsibility as enshrined by the law setting up the DSS states that the protection and preservation of non-military classified matters concerning again, the internal security of Nigeria.

“The third and the last responsibility, as enshrined by law, is such other responsibilities affecting again internal security within Nigeria, as the National Assembly or the President as the case may be, may deem necessary.

“Mr. President, my respected colleagues, how does bribery and corruption become the issue of internal security? How does bribing judges or official misconduct in their official capacity become a threat to internal security?  The point here is that the DSS in her fight against corruption overstepped its boundaries and abused its mandate.”

Also, Deputy Leader of the Senate, Senator Bala Na’Allah, recalled that the massive support and commitment of Nigerians to the government was because they were all unanimous in the fight against corruption, warning that the government should not do anything to betray it.

In his remarks, the President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, cautioned that the anti-graft fight must conform with constitutional process.

“We must ensure that this fight against corruption is within the rule of law; any act of anti-corruption that goes against the rule of law does not help the corruption fight.

“That is why this action, as has been seen in this manner, is condemned by the Senate, and all agencies of government must ensure that they act within the rule of law,” he said.


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