In the early hours of Sunday, March 30, 2014, while going through twitter for usual updates, the news of gunshots at the Department of State Services, DSS, headquarters close to the state house went viral. Even though the news of gunshots and bombing are now usual in the country, attacking the headquarters of the state security service is awkwardly audacious. The news immediately gained ground, leading to unease in and around the city of Abuja, as people scampered for safety.
Rumours began to spread like wildfire about what could possibly be the problem around the seat of power. Some even went as far as speculating that, perhaps, there was a mutiny. Various speculations escalated the tension until the DSS released a statement via its spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar which apparently doused the fear in the minds of citizens.
It is no more news that the attempted jail break by detained suspected insurgents was foiled by the combined effort of the State Security Service and other security personnel. According to Mrs Ogar, at 07.15 hours, the Service suspect handler went to the detention facility within the Headquarters to feed the suspects. One of the suspects attempted to disarm him by hitting him at the back of his head with his handcuff. His attempt to escape drew the attention of other guards at the facility that fired some shots to warn and deter others.” The gunshots apparently attracted attention around the areas and soldiers were on hand to provide support to the state security agents.
All thanks to the security framework put in place to promote inter-agency cooperation. Thus, once there is any challenge in any military formation or security agency, the new framework will trigger alarm for rapid response by other sister agencies. This may not necessarily mean that the SSS aren’t capable of curbing the attacks, but soldiers merely responded to this alarm that fateful Sunday by coming to the DSS headquarters. This is the technical or security justification for soldiers’ intervention. In the end, the marauders were re-arrested and scores who refused to surrender were subdued. There is the need to cut some slacks for the combined security agents even though some of the operatives were scathed.
It is also good news to hear that innocent passers-by who were arrested around the State House and environs are beginning to regain their freedom. This is coming from reliable reports that there were indications that some suspects around the DSS headquarters who were arrested in Abuja that Sunday have been released based on the service’s respect for human rights. This also serves as clarion call to the security service and all other security agents to as much as possible refrain from extra-judicial arrests and killings which they have been criticized for over the years. This is especially since the emergence of insurgency in some parts of the country.
This will, at least, douse the artificial phobia an average Nigerian has for uniformed personnel in the country.
The security might have had it a bit easier to contain the recent attempted jail break, but there is no doubt that; another attempt by terrorists to escape will be more coordinated. Thus, it is left for the state security service to be more alert and take proactive measures to curtail any funny movement by detainees. I still remember the days when I used to read that criminals are transferred from one prison to another around the nation. In some cases, criminals may not even know where they are, a situation that made any escape attempt impossible. I wonder what really happened to such practice in the nation. Criminals of such calibre should be kept far away from the seat of power to eschew the kind of drama that happened that Sunday. Better still, there should be a special detention centre where arrested insurgents would be detained pending other developments.
More so and more importantly, I expect that suspected terrorists should be tried in a law court as soon as possible, rather than detaining them for God knows how long. The fact that a criminal is arrested and detained for more than 48 hours without trial may be a violation of his human rights. There may perhaps be some exceptions when it comes to dealing with cases of terrorism, but be that as it may, an arrested insurgent should be handicapped as much as possible in order to avert any form of treachery. The only good news from the narration is that no suspected terrorists escaped from justice.