By Dickson Omobola
Following the claim by the Department of State Service, DSS, that there is a plot to install an interim government in Nigeria, the agency has come under intense pressure to name those behind the alleged plan.
The call by eminent and politically exposed Nigerians was predicated on the belief that the agency should not just stop at raising the alarm, but also move against “enemies of the state.”
Last Wednesday, the DSS had raised the alarm over what it described as a plot by political actors to foist interim government on the nation.
Spokesperson for the agency, Dr. Peter Afunanya, in a statement, had claimed some key players in the plan had been identified.
The statement had read: “The DSS considers the plot, being pursued by these entrenched interests, as not only an aberration but a mischievous way to set aside the Constitution and undermine civil rule as well as plunge the country into an avoidable crisis.
“The planners, in their many meetings, have weighed various options, which include, among others, to sponsor endless violent mass protests in major cities to warrant a declaration of State of Emergency. Another is to obtain frivolous court injunctions to forestall the inauguration of new executive administrations and legislative houses at the Federal and State levels.”
However, many want the DSS to move beyond what it had done, insisting the proper thing is to nip the said plot in the bud.
Speaking on the matter, National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council, IPAC, Alhaji Yabagi Sani, said the statement of the DSS is capable of creating tension in the country.
His words: “It is embarrassing because I believe the DSS is a constitutional agency that is in charge of gathering intelligence and passing the intelligence to other agencies that should take action. I don’t think it serves the purpose of this country for the DSS to come and make this pronouncement in that manner.
“What would have made sense to us is saying this person is involved, this person has been arrested or is under interrogation or actions have been taken. What do we do as politicians or as citizens of the country? We can’t do anything.
“Whoever the person is, if they know that the person is doing something untoward to our democracy, which will scuttle this process, I think the lawful thing to do is to take that person into custody and ask questions. Then, they can come out and say this person has been found doing this, and we have asked questions, and has been released.
“To make these pronouncements to further create some kind of tensions and some kind of crisis has not really met the expectations.”
Sani further explained: “I know that if they start arresting opposition politicians as you said, it will send a wrong signal. Some people will say it is witch-hunting. But, look at what happened in the United States, when Trump wanted to interfere with the process of the inauguration of Biden, something happened and they took action. So, I believe that as much as we commend the effort of the DSS, I think they should go beyond that. As a citizen, what can we do? We can only say we are in trouble. This democracy is too precious, and if there is anybody that should protect and advance the course of democracy, it is the agencies that are put in place to do just that.
“We have the police and DSS. The Presidency has a role to play because every agency that we are talking about is under the Presidency. So, maybe it is time for Mr. President to say something.’’
On his part, a lawyer and human rights activist, Bulama Bukarti, said the agency should waste no further time in arresting those identified as spearheading the plot.
Bukarti’s words, “This is a very serious matter. What the DSS is saying is that some people are planning to wage a war against Nigeria. The move is undemocratic, it is illegal and unconstitutional.
“Section one of our Constitution is very clear on that. It states that Nigeria or any of its parts can’t be ruled other than through constitutional means. The only means recognised by the Constitution is for people to win elections and to be duly inaugurated by the authorities stipulated by law.
“It is also criminal because what these individuals are planning is treason by our criminal laws and it is punishable by death. It carries the death penalty, which shows that it is one of the most heinous crimes in Nigeria.
“The fact that this statement is coming from the DSS gives me hope but also gives me concerns. The concern is that the statement coming from the DSS means that this is a very serious matter because we know that the DSS has never been reckless with statements. They are always serious. They are professional in what they are doing.
“Now that they are coming out with this statement, it shows that some individuals are trying to do something untoward, which will throw our country into chaos. Now, the positive side of the statement coming from the DSS is that since it came from them, other security agencies are on top of the matter.”
Sani and Bukarti spoke on Channels TV Politics Today programme.
Also, spokesperson for the Coalition of Northern Groups, CNG, Abdulaziz Sulaiman, said it is insane for anyone to contemplate having an interim government.
He said:” The DSS revelation is indeed disturbing, but then, the threat of the schemes for installation of an interim government as an emergency governmental authority to manage the May 29th transition, is as well real.
‘’It is insane for any person to even contemplate such a plot for an interim arrangement which most times takes the occasion of wars to bring about and wherever and whenever such a provisional government is put in place, the country’s constitution is done away with and civil rule becomes undermined. This has the potential to plunge the country into crisis.
In Nigeria, the last time Nigeria had an interim government in power was about 30 years ago and it lasted for 82 days.
Following the June 12, 1993, presidential election which was won by Moshood Abiola and annulled by General Ibrahim Babangida,retd, there was a crisis.
‘’Soon after the crisis seemed to have abated a bit, General Babangida handed power over to Ernest Shonekan as interim Head of State on August 27, 1993.
“Shonekan’s government was adjudged largely as “powerless” and was dissolved when General Sani Abacha seized power on November 17, 1993.
This time, since the declaration of Tinubu as the President-elect, some civil society groups have protested the outcome of the February 25 presidential election resulting in hate campaigns and propaganda being conducted by an unpatriotic section of the political elite.
We certainly would not join any efforts to scuttle the transition process following the emergence of a President-elect through an election process.
Any extra-democratic arrangements such as an interim government will be a major setback and we must all resist.”
Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.