Senate Condemns DSS’ Excesses, Moves To Cut Down Its Excesses

By Ikenga Chronicles October 26, 2016

The recent raid of residences of judicial officers and arrest of some eminent judges by the Department of State Security Services (DSS)  has sparked outrage from various quarters. While some condemned the action, which analysts described as “Gestapo-style”, others commended the DSS, positing that it was a right step in the current fight against corruption in the country.

The Senate led by Senate President Bukola Saraki, Senator Dino Maleye among others against this backdrop, recently held a comprehensive debate on the issue and came up with some critical decisions to forestall re-occurrence by cutting the wings of the presidency.

The most important decision reached by the Upper Chamber, was to mandate its Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to review all existing laws that deal with powers of security agencies, and put them in line with tenets of democracy and report back in four weeks.

It also condemned in strong terms the action of the DSS, stressing that the agency went outside the scope of its constitutional powers, which amounted to usurpation of the powers of the National Judicial Council (NJC).

Meanwhile, in what seems self-contradictory, the Red Chamber rejected a recommendation that the Director-General of the DSS be summoned to explain what informed the action of the agency against the judicial officers, in total violation of its constitutional mandate.

Ikenga Chronicles learnt that this singular action by the lawmakers immediately provoked insinuation that they were afraid of hurting the powers that be or they were guarding against being humiliated and embarrassed by the DSS boss by turning down their invitation or both.

Similarly, the recommendation to condemn the action of the secret police, which was adopted, initially met serious resistance. It failed to pass when it was put to voice vote by Saraki. But he used his discretion and fiat to pass it after repeating the question twice.

The lawmakers made the resolutions following the motion of urgent public importance, brought to the floor of the Senate by Senator Joshua Lidani (PDP, Gombe South), who raised questions on the legality or otherwise of the action of the DSS, praying the chamber to intervene. Leading the debate on the motion, Senator Lidani said that he was alarmed that such unconstitutional action could be adopted by the DSS in its claim to sanitize the judiciary of corruption, arguing that “you cannot use illegality to tackle corruption or other crimes in the society.”

He expressed worry that the use of unconstitutional method in the ongoing fight against corruption in the judiciary might prove counter-productive in the long run, warning that it might demoralise the morale of patriotic and upright judges.

He said: “I am alarmed that the extra-constitutional approach to sanitise the judiciary in line with the war against corruption is bound to prove counter-productive because it erodes the role of the judiciary and undermines the importance of the judiciary as well as demoralises the morale of many patriotic and upright judges who have determined to support the crusade against corruption.”

In his contribution,Dino Melaye (APC, Kogi West), said that even though it was true that the judiciary is corrupt, the DSS went outside its constitutional mandate and must be called to order in the interest of democracy.

“I support the fight against corruption, irrespective of who is involved either a Supreme Court judge, judge of the Court of Appeal or of the High Court or even magistrate. But, while I support the fight against corruption, it is a misnomer; it is absurd for the DSS to operate outside its mandate.”

The Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio (PDP, Akwa- Ibom North-West), in his contribution, expressed support for the anti-corruption crusade, but however cautioned that it must be within the law.

“The National Assembly is in support of Buhari’s fight against corruption but we must do things within the provisions of the law. We should be careful about the kind of image we give to the Judiciary because it will definitely affect the image of Nigeria abroad.”

“I am worried about the method used by the DSS; it leaves psychological trauma on families of the affected judges,” he said.

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