The DSS needs intelligent officers


If you thought that the characteristic display of sloppiness, laxity, and an outright lack of acumen by the Department of State Services can no longer embarrass you, then you should read the submission of the judge that refused to grant their prayer to arrest and detain the Central Bank of Nigeria Governor over alleged terrorism financing. The DSS had filed a suit with a Federal High Court in Abuja on December 7 seeking to arrest the CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, over allegations that border on “acts of financing terrorism, fraudulent activities and economic crimes of national security dimension.”

Now, anywhere in the world, those allegations against a high-ranking government official like a CBN governor would be considered weighty and treated with all seriousness. In a nation where political and economic activities are properly understood as the determinants of people’s destinies, moving against a CBN governor is not a thoughtless affair. The allegations against such a figure must have irrefutable proof, and the nation’s leaders must be put on notice to make succession plans.

The court declined to grant the DSS application. Why? The DSS did not supply any “concrete evidence” substantiating their accusations. The more baffling aspect of the flippancy of the DSS is that their application could not even acknowledge the status and designation of the ‘Godwin Emefiele’ they wanted arrested. They probably forgot that detail, or they were so carried away by the aggrandising power they were about to display that they failed to diligently read the document they submitted to the court. This might seem like a simple oversight, but their failure to observe such a vital detail calls the whole quality of their investigation and professional judgment to question. As the judge rightly noted, the DSS could have been accusing any random person who shares that name.

This is one of the many instances of the DSS treating serious investigations with levity. That was how they raided several judges’ houses in the early days of this administration and came up with nothing. Precisely due to their unserious attitude, they have many instances of power abuse recorded against them. How does an organisation whose activities border on operations that require intelligence always manage to act so unintelligently? Yes, for an organisation like the DSS, intelligence means surveillance and gathering knowledge about activities that might threaten the nation’s security. But intelligence is not mere data, it is also dispositional. An organisation like the DSS would be considered truly intelligent if they combined their spying activities with the ability to think about things—reflexivity, logicality, reasonableness, and the ability to solve problems.

Let me point out here that the carelessness exhibited by the DSS is hardly different from what the CBN under Emefiele has displayed. In a previous article, I had written about how his accusations of abokiFX’s manipulation of the forex market testify against him as a worthy CBN administrator. He should have been asked to resign after that press address. Emefiele himself is another public administrator who manifests similar sloppiness in matters of national concern, and both he and the DSS embody a typical Nigerian managerial attitude. On that score, you can say Emefiele and the DSS deserve each other.

Still, we should be worried about the lack of seriousness on the part of the DSS. A potent weapon in the hands of the unintelligent is frightening because they will put it to brutal use. Take the instance of DSS’ invasion of the house of supposed freedom fighter Sunday Adeyemo (or Sunday Igboho). The raid was illegal, and they even stormed his house with babalawos! Apparently the DSS took the nonsense that Adeyemo could shape-shift into a cat seriously. They went as far as ‘arresting’ some cats believing one could be Adeyemo. They also arrested some babalawos they believe supplied him with supernatural powers, illegally detained them, and even taunted one of them to magically vanish before their eyes. Are you any surprised that these clowns carried such magical thinking into judicial processes? The superstition underlying their abjuration of logical reality when they believed a man could truly transmogrify followed them to the court where they also thought they could get things done in the real world even if reasonable processes were elided.

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These same people kidnapped the leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra, Nnamdi Kanu, in Kenya and brought him all the way to Nigeria to face trial on terrorism charges but could not prove their case. Now, again, they have accused Emefiele of financing terrorism without evidence. Since they also accused the #EndSARS protesters of terrorism, one can deduce that their terrorism surveillance apparatuses are either poor or non-existent. These people just make up things.

Lately, they also moved to curb the ongoing fuel scarcity by arresting and threatening marketers. The way they overlooked the abstract market forces and political judgment that resulted in the fuel scarcity to harass a few people brings me to another point.

In a previous article, I noted how the DSS, an agency tasked with managing the country’s internal security, was increasingly overstretching the definitions of what constitutes a national threat and thereby encroaching on duties that should otherwise be left to local police authorities. Now some of their activities have even become purely illogical. One startling example is the case of Rhoda Ya’u Jatau of Bauchi State they arrested for sharing a WhatsApp message that condemned the killing of Deborah Samuel—the student in Sokoto State lynched by Muslim fanatics. Jatau was accosted by the mob, and rather than for the DSS to protect her from the unwashed maniacs seeking to take her life, they incarcerated her and then charged her to court. If Nigeria were not a place where logic goes to die, why would she be the one standing trial for inciting public disturbance while the excitable crowd seeking to murder her walks free? How does that make sense?

On the issues of insecurity in Nigeria, the DSS has been serially found wanting yet they are all over the place doing God knows what. Their agency needs either a complete overhaul or radical reforms. Unfortunately, not much about their conduct suggests they have considered how badly they are frittering away their legitimacy due to their own frivolousness. Consider the press release they put out in the wake of the Emefiele incident, and you can tell that this bunch is not ready to reflect and reform.

If the DSS agents are still capable of learning, I urge them to retrieve the document the FBI used in detailing the crimes against disgraced ‘supercop’ Abba Kyari. The DSS can use the material as a training resource to teach themselves the fundamentals of drafting allegations. They do themselves no favour when their high-profile cases get thrown out for lack of evidence and even shoddiness. Ideally, when an agency like the DSS accuses anyone of crimes, the quality of their investigation ought to be so top-notch that the accused should be considered as good as gone. But due to their own lax attitude, the public greets their cases with cynicism and indifference.

On the accusations against Emefiele, nobody can factually state what is true or not. Regrettably, we might never even know because the DSS might have bungled whatever case they had. By not being diligent enough, they left room for some pressure groups to infiltrate an otherwise serious issue with ethnic sentiments. Once an issue goes down the path of ethnic and religious sensibility in Nigeria, the truth gets irretrievably lost.


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