The Department of State Service on Tuesday got some flaks from many Nigerians when its operatives engaged in a scuffle with officials of the Nigerian Correctional Service on the premises of the Federal High Court, which sat in Lagos.
The bone of contention? The DSS operatives were fighting the prison officials over the custody of the suspended Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, Godwin Emefiele, who had appeared in court on a two-count bordering on illegal possession of firearms and ammunition proffered against him by the Federal Ministry of Justice.
The suspended CBN boss pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Following his plea, vacation judge, Justice Nicholas Oweibo, granted Emefiele bail in the sum of N20 million, with one surety. He also remanded him in the custody of the NCoS pending the perfection of his bail conditions.
But, in a display of lawlessness, the DSS operatives disregarded Justice Oweibo’s ruling and engaged in a free-for-all with the NCoS officials who attempted to take Emefiele into custody.
Tuesday’s despicable incident was not the first time operatives of the DSS would disrespect a ruling by a court of competent jurisdiction or engage in an open show of shame.
Below are four other times the DSS engaged in such a show of shame:
1. Tuesday, August 7, 2018: DSS lays siege to the National Assembly
Masked DSS operatives barricaded the gates to the National Assembly complex and shut out lawmakers. The drama happened amid concern by some legislators, especially those in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party that their All Progressives Congress counterparts were plotting to forcefully re-open the premises and impeach the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
The siege only ended when the then Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, who was acting president at the time, summarily dismissed Lawal Daura, the head of SSS.
2. Friday, December 6, 2019: Judge, lawyers flee as DSS invades court to rearrest Sowore
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja may have believed in the sanctity of the court as a temple of justice before the saga of December 6, 2019, when armed DSS operatives stormed the court while she was seated on the Bench and presiding over a lawsuit involving Sahara Reporters publisher, Omoyele Sowore. The operatives invaded the courtroom to rearrest Sowore less than 24 hours after releasing him from illegal custody.
Justice Ojukwu and some of the lawyers in the courtroom heeded the dictates of their legs and fled.
Sowore’s lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), would later describe the incident as a “horrendous, bizarre, and barbaric contempt of court” never witnessed under “even the most brutal of past dictators that had ever ruled Nigeria”.
3. Thursday, November 5, 2015: DSS invades ex-NSA, Sambo Dasuki’s home
On November 3, 2015, Justice Adeniyi Ademola of the Federal High Court granted the request of the former National Security Adviser, under former President Goodluck Jonathan, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), for his travel document to be released in order for him to travel abroad to take care of his deteriorating health. Two days after the court’s decision, the DSS operatives stormed Dasuki’s Asokoro residence and laid a siege, effectively restricting his movement.
The siege on Dasuki’s home lasted for 25 days before he was eventually rearrested on December 1, 2015.
4. May 30, 2023: DSS storms EFCC Lagos office, blocks officers’ access
In what can be described as a mere show of being the more powerful Federal Government agency, the DSS stormed the Ikoyi, Lagos office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the early hours of Tuesday, May 30, this year, and stopped the anti-graft officials from gaining access.
Apparently, there had been an ongoing battle over the ownership of the building between the EFCC and the DSS, but rather than settle the dispute amicably, the DSS, as they are wont to do, resorted to intimidation. Punch