SSG, commissioners in hiding as security agency lays siege on other officials

Yemi Akinsuyi in Abuja, James Sowole in Akure and Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti
The Department of State Services (DSS) in Abuja on Thursday dispelled the rumoured death of Hon. Akanni Afolabi, a member of the Ekiti House of Assembly, arrested by the service.

Afolabi was rumoured to have slumped and died in the DSS detention in the early hours of Thursday.

Presenting Afolabi before journalists, Mr. Abdullahi Garba said the member was duly invited by the service over some breaches bordering on state security.
“You can see that Akanni Afolabi is hale and hearty,”he said.

He said the breaches fall under the purview of the services to investigate.
Garba said the briefing became necessary in order to debunk the rumour being spread in Ekiti by some mischief makers of Afolabi’s demise.

“Nigerians and Ekiti people in particular are convinced as they can see that Afolabi is hale and hearty as he is being presented to the press today,” he said.
Garba, who said investigation was still ongoing on the matter, pointed out that the service had not received any court order for his release.

He warned that the service would not hesitate to bring the full weight of the law against any one or persons that might engage in violent actions.
“The DSS will therefore warn all those who have plans to make a meat out of this, to desist from it and stay away from trouble,” he said.

Garba’s press conference was sequel to a pronouncement by the Ekiti State government alleging that Akanni, representing Efon constituency, who was arrested on March 4, when the DSS allegedly invaded the assembly for undisclosed reasons, had died in the custody of the security agency.

At an emergency press conference in Ado Ekiti, addressed by the Information Commissioner, Mr Lanre Ogunsuyi, the government insisted that the lawmaker had developed an ailment the midnight of Thursday and died at dawn.

Ogunsuyi said: “We call on the DSS to immediately clarify the situation as to the status (dead or alive) of Hon. Akanni by producing him physically for all Nigerians, particularly his immediate family to see.

In the same vein, members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly yesterday said there was possibility that some of their members in the custody of the DSS might be dead.
While on a visit to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to submit a protest to the commission, Professor Bem Angwe, the assembly members said the arrest of their members had affected the work of the state house of assembly.

The lawmakers led by the Deputy Speaker, Hon. Segun Adewumi, who was accompanied by Dr. Samuel Omotosho, Chairman House Committee on Health, Hon. Gboyega Aribisogan, House Committee on Information, urged the commission to come to the aid of the state assembly and defend their rights.

Omotosho, who spoke on behalf of other members said: “The arrest has affected the work of the House. This commission should rise and defend the rights of these persons.
“The DSS is a creation of the law and should not behave as if it is above the law by disobeying the law that created it. We are not in a banana republic where anybody can do anything and get away with it.

“As it is now, we don’t know their whereabouts. Their family members are worried and they have remained incommunicado. We asked if they are dead and nobody is talking to us. The rights to life and human dignity of our colleagues are being threatened.
“Arresting and detaining them without charging them to court is a breach of their fundamental human rights.”

In the petition before the commission, they accused the federal government of plans to arrest and intimidate lawmakers in the state into submission.
According to them, the arrest and detention is to silence the voice of oppositions in the state.

Meanwhile, the Secretary to the Ekiti State Government (SSG) and some commissioners have reportedly gone into hiding following threats of arrest by the officers of the DSS who are reportedly laying siege on the state.

The SSG, Dr Modupe Alade, who made the revelation at a news conference addressed in Akure, Ondo State, capital, added that the list of some executive members to be arrested was being paraded all over the state.

The SSG said since Tuesday, she had been receiving some strange calls on her phone and one of the callers, who identified himself as Paul Okafor with telephone No +447442364448 told her to make herself available in the DSS Office, in Abuja soonest.

“Subsequent calls from other anonymous numbers warned that, ‘in my own interest, I should make myself available as there is no hiding place for me.’ This accounts for my addressing this Press Conference outside Ekiti State.

“These intimidating and overzealous acts of the men of the DSS contradict Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution as amended. One wonders what they are turning democracy to in Nigeria,” she said.

The SSG said all these acts of DSS were being directed at Governor Ayodele Fayose and those that are close to him because of his critical stance on the federal government, adding “we are yet to see a new constitution in Nigeria that makes speaking one’s mind on national issues, a crime.”