•Beams searchlight on terrorism sponsors, corrupt persons, economic saboteurs, separatist agitators
By Soni Daniel, Abuja
As the country’s political process to usher in a new set of leaders next year, the Department of State Service has begun discreet vetting of political contestants across all the cadres of contestants in order to fish out those who have ‘some baggage’.
The profiling and vetting of political aspirants, according to a DSS official, is to enable the service fish out criminal elements who should not be entrusted with sensitive offices and positions in the country and guide relevant agencies, parties and institutions appropriately.
“The vetting is a continuous exercise and a core function of our mandate to determine if anyone who is seeking to occupy any office is fit and proper to do so in order to prevent criminally-minded elements from being saddle with sensitive government apparatus and institutions,” a DSS official explained.
Under the arrangement, which is said to have begun in earnest, the security agency is to beam its searchlight on those who have criminal records bordering on economic sabotage, corruption, terrorism financing and separatist agitation among others.
The current vetting, according to the security outfit, is prompted principally by inconsistency in the information provided by politicians in the country, which requires cross-checking to ensure that those who have questions are made to provide answers before it becomes late.
“What we are doing is an examination of existing records already before us to determine what has changed and what has not and to be able to determine the extent of the inconsistency in each profile with a view to advising those involved accordingly in the interest of the country,” an official explained.
Saturday Vanguard learnt that although the DSS profiling is not always binding on the government but merely advisory, it however remains a core function that most government relies on in making appointments and political decisions and could also be deployed as evidence in judicial matters.
Contacted on the development, the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said that vetting or profiling of political aspirant is a routine function of the agency and should not be seen as a probe with any ulterior motive.
“The vetting is in the interest of all,” he said but declined to give further details.