…Releases hotlines for public use during elections
Soni Daniel – Northern Region Editor
Ahead of Saturday’s Presidential and March 2 governorship elections in Nigeria, the Department of State Services, DSS, on Monday issued a strong message to trouble-makers and carriers of fake news capable of sparking violence, to keep off the election space or be ready for dire consequences.
The agency in a statement issued by its Spokesman, Peter Afunanya, and made available to Vanguard in Abuja, warned that it would not stand idly by and watch trouble-makers and miscreants cause avoidable crisis during the polls.
In particular, the DSS warned that while it would conduct its operations professionally in line with its mandate, it would not hesitate to arrest criminals and their collaborators whose activities are counter to the national objective of achieving peaceful and orderly elections.
It warned: “Similarly, the Service will not condone fake news, incendiary or hate speeches designed to whip up dangerous ethnic, religious and/or political sentiments capable of stoking the embers of violence.
“Consequently, prospective lawbreakers are forewarned to steer clear of acts capable of undermining national security and stability. The Service will, however, not stand idly and watch miscreants and mischief makers bring avoidable chaos and disorder upon the nation.
It also asked politicians, observers, electoral officers, and voters to conduct themselves in accordance with laid down regulations in order not to breach any rule that might attract punishment.
The service said: “As Nigerians go to the polls to elect their leaders at the national and state levels, the Department of State Services (DSS) enjoins all stakeholders – politicians, citizens, voters, observers, electoral officers, the media, Civil Society Organizations and security operatives to be law-abiding and observe the rules of engagement as doing so is germane to the success of the exercise. The Service commits itself to the provision of adequate security throughout the period of the electoral process.
“Politicians and the youth are expected to shun all acts of violence the same way observers are urged to keep to the fundamentals and principles of election monitoring as allowed by law and global best practice. Without a doubt, the Electoral Act is clear on the roles of stakeholders.
“The common aim of all and sundry should be for Nigeria to hold successful elections that will be adjudged free, fair, transparent and credible and accepted nationally and internationally.
“Everyone is urged to conduct themselves properly before, during and after the elections and avoid actions that may cause breakdown of law and order.
On its part, the DSS will professionally discharge its statutory mandate which, among others, is to detect and prevent threats and crimes against the internal security of Nigeria. Also, it will appropriately engage stakeholders. This is for the protection and success of the elections.
“Therefore, ensuring security that will make the electoral process noble and acceptable to participants and their supporters is uppermost to the Service. In this regard, the Service is determined to identify and arrest criminals and their collaborators whose activities are counter to the national objective of achieving peaceful and orderly elections.
“Furthermore, the public is implored to support security agencies and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) to undertake violence-free elections. In the same vein, law-abiding citizens and residents are entreated to timely avail these agencies information regarding suspected thuggery, theft of electoral materials, the violence of any dimensions and other plans that will bring our democratic journey to question.
“Once again, the DSS encourages all citizens to responsibly exercise their civic duties without fear as security measures have been put in place for the safety of lives and property. However, Nigerians and, indeed, residents are advised to be vigilant and promptly report, to security and law enforcement agencies nearest to them for deserved interventions, unusual activities or movements likely to undermine the elections.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the following telephone lines and e-mail address (07055655591; 09030002189 and firstname.lastname@example.org) can be used to reach the Service during the period under reference.”