We Didn’t Open Fire on Protesters, Says DSS

Peter Afunanya
DSS spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunanya
  • Soyinka condemns incident
  • IG: Modern policing no longer by brute force

Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja

The Department of State Services wednesday said it did not fire at protesters, who on Tuesday demonstrated at its headquarters in Abuja, explaining that it only professionally dispersed a crowd that was attempting to forcibly free a detainee, Mr. Omoyele Sowore from detention.

It said in a statement issued by its spokesman, Dr. Peter Afunanya, that its agents had to protect its facility from the protesters and it did so professionally.

“As a normal global security practice, the operatives stood in defence of their facility when some group of persons made unruly attempts to forcefully (sic) break into the place and effect the release of Omoyele Sowore,” it said, adding: “Despite serial and unwarranted provocations, the service, as a professional and responsible organisation, did not shoot at the so-called protesters. It could not have done so.”

On Sowore, the DSS expressed its readiness to release him when “processes are concluded.”
It stated: “For emphasis, the service reiterates its avowed readiness to release Sowore once the processes are concluded. It maintains that the appropriate persons have still not turned up to take delivery of Sowore.

“While all those that have so far shown up are not directly concerned with the matter and therefore unqualified, many others have either chosen to grandstand or politicise it to achieve hidden interests.

“It is only appropriate that those who stood surety for Sowore present themselves and have him released to them. It is even more disappointing that Femi Falana, who is a senior lawyer, would wrongly guide his client and supporters.
“He is rather playing to the gallery and mobilising miscreants to subvert the service and other state authorities. He has excellent relationship with the DGSS. But in the circumstance, he has refused to reach out to him over the case like he had on previously related ones.”

But Nobel Laureate, Prof. Wole Soyinka, condemned the DSS the incident.
He said the attack portrayed administration of President Muhammadu Buhari as insecure and paranoid.
But the secret police, in a statement also yesterday, denied opening fire on protesters and journalists that covered the protest.

Soyinka and the DSS’ reactions came on the day the Inspector General of Police, Mr. Adamu Mohammed, said modern policing was no longer driven by the application of brute force but deployment of intellect and respect for extant laws.

Soyinka, in a statement obtained by THISDAY, called on civil society organisations to strategise and coordinate their responses to attacks on human rights by state agents under Buhari.

“The sporadic, uncoordinated responses as in the case of Omoyele Sowore, the absence of a solid strategy, ready to be activated against any threat — these continue to enable these agencies in their mission to enthrone a pattern of conduct that openly scoffs at the role of the judiciary in national life,” he said.

He condemned “the level of arrogance” by agents of the state, saying it “has crossed even the most permissive thresholds.”

“As I remarked from the onset, this is an act of government insecurity and paranoia that merely defeats its real purpose,” he added.

THISDAY had reported how protesters demanding the release of Sowore were violently dispersed with gunshots in Abuja with some of them, including journalists covering the protest, sustaining injuries.

Sowore, publisher of Sahara Reporters, is being detained by the DSS despite meeting his bail conditions set by the court.
The activist and former presidential candidate is being prosecuted for calling for a revolution against bad governance. He is charged with treasonable felony and money laundering.

Soyinka called for an end to what he called a ‘charade,’ saying that it is nothing more than a display of crude, naked power.

He asked the DSS to stop further embarrassment of the country and apologise for the actions.

IG: Modern Policing No Longer by Brute Force

Meanwhile, the IG has cautioned against the use of brute force by law enforcement agents, saying modern policing has gone beyond that.

Adamu, at the decoration of newly promoted Assistant Inspectors General of Police (AIGs) in Abuja, said modern policing required respect for extant laws.

“In the discharge of your duties, however, you should appreciate that modern policing is no longer driven by application of brute force, but the deployment of intellect, respect for extant laws, civility to citizens, knowledge, and sound professional judgement,” he said.

According to him, in view of the critical security challenges confronting the nation, the beneficiaries of the promotion should key into the crime containment strategies of the police.