By Emmanuel Aziken
The Department of State Services, DSS trended this week after the internal police issued a statement of caution over an alleged plot by some political actors to install an interim government.
The DSS in the statement said it had identified the political actors involved and went further to insinuate the stages that they had gone and the options that the assumed plotters have been weighing in their aspiration.
It is not surprising that the statement from the DSS easily turned into mockery on twitter on account of ambiguities in the assertions of the secret police which many saw as amateurish.
The Director-General of the DSS, Yusuf Bichi who this correspondent has interacted with in group sessions comes across as a cosmopolitan and egalitarian bureaucrat. His assertions do not betray the kind of substandard approach recently seen in the engagements of the service.
He is a sharp contrast to his immediate predecessor who was soon as aloof, authoritarian and provincial. But whatever, both men were seen as spooks with brutal efficiency towards their objective of protecting the state as they defined it in their perspective.
However, despite the amiability that has been associated with the DSS under Mallam Bichi, the political proclivities of the service under his leadership may end up as his undoing.
Given its constitutional remit of internal security, the exposure of the DSS over time to the political intentions of the governments of the day has never been in doubt. So, insinuations being made against the DSS today are indeed not new. The only thing new is the strange idea that the DSS may also have been captured by remote tendencies directly outside the centre of power.
Under the Olusegun Obasanjo and Umar Yar‘adua administrations, the DSS was not directly referenced in the political theatre. It was not until the Jonathan administration when former spokeswoman Marilyn Ogar in the approach to the 2015 General Election made insinuations against the opposition that people began to be worried.
Mrs Ogar particularly came under attack when she accused the opposition of being responsible for the bombings that occurred in the country in 2014.
She was also attacked by the All Progressives Congress, APC after she alleged that Lai Mohammed, the then spokesman of the party was briefly arrested for ‘loitering’ during the Osun governorship election of 2014.
It was perhaps not surprising that after the Muhammadu Buhari government came to power that she was quietly eased away from her position and then from the service.
For a long time under the new Director General of the service, Lawal Daura, the DSS did not have a spokesman.
What one sees of the DSS today draws allusions to internal police in the United States in its first years under its first director, Edgar Hoover.
Mr Hoover was the first director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI and stayed in office for 46 years and only left office at the point of death. The FBI under Hoover was turned into a tool for browbeating perceived foes of Mr Hoover including even presidents.
No president from Franklin Roosevelt to Richard Nixon was able to sack Hoover because of powerful influence he wielded not just over the presidents but over their political strongholds.
President John Kennedy was famously known to have been among the most detested of the seven presidents or so that Hoover served as FBI director. Hoover was alleged to have let out to the press gossips of JFK’s numerous affairs including the intriguing one with a married newspaper columnist before he became president. Hoover kept the presidents he served under restraint by direct blackmails or blackmailing their political associates.
Of course, Mr Bichi is believed to be so removed from Mr Hoover’s manipulative tendencies. However, the politics around him is so troubling. Pictures of the sons of the DSS director-general flanking the APC presidential candidate, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu should be troubling for anyone envisaging neutrality from Nigeria’s secret police.
Even more, for an organization devoted to maintaining internal security, its silence on such disruptive outbursts from MC Oluomo and others of fellow attitude in Lagos is troubling.
Also troubling was the role of the DSS in the Godwin Emefiele saga when the service was alleged to have prepared a case of terrorism financing against the Central Bank governor. It is shocking that the DSS prepared such a charge and has not been able to go forward with its claims or convinced the president of the culpability of the apex banker against the integrity of the country.
Equally shocking is the failure to apprehend those who sabotaged President Muhammadu Buhari’s directive of a free and fair election.
So, when the DSS alleges that oppositionists plan to stage demonstrations even if violent, one would have expected the service to have gone forward to directly direct them to refrain from violence. But when the DSS cautions those embittered by the conduct of an election that many believe was stolen, from going to court it is a mismatch. After all, the injunction just few days ago was ‘Go To Court.’ So, why should the DSS be troubled by those going to court?
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.