APC, PDP senators bicker over alleged DSS’ harassment of INEC officials
SENATORS of the All Progressives Congress and the Peoples Democratic Party yesterday engaged in bitter arguments even as the Senate hosted the Director of the Department of State Service (DSS) over allegations of undue intervention in the cases pending before the election petition tribunals of Rivers, Akwa Ibom and Abia States.
At a meeting with the Director-General of the DSS at the National Assembly yesterday, the Senate Ethics and Public Petitions Committee, which is investigating the matter, accused the agency of misinterpreting the laws to justify its actions.
Director of Operations in the DSS, Godwin Bassey Eteng, who represented the Director General, Lawal Daura had informed the committee that its decision to wade into the matter was informed by the desire to prevent the breakdown of law and order.
Eteng explained that upon receiving a petition from some APC members in Rivers State alleging that many Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) officials had refused to release documents for proper scrutiny as directed by the tribunal, it commenced investigations leading to the invitation of many persons.
He said its action was to prevent further violation of Section 77 of the Electoral Act by the INEC officials.
However, the Senate Committee headed by Senator Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East Senatorial District) cautioned against actions that could put the DSS in bad light and public ridicule and disrespect in future.
It declared that should there be a violation of the Electoral Act by the INEC officials as claimed, the responsibility of investigating criminal activities rested on the police and not the DSS
“Does the Electoral Act empower the DSS to enforce orders of the Election Petition Tribunals? The committee queried The Committee said that the DSS was wrong in acting without the police that had the original jurisdiction to investigate and prosecute criminal cases.
“The Nigeria we desire in future does not accommodate a situation where you do something wrong and later try to devise means of justifying it. The most charitable interpretation of that law (DSS Act) does not give you the power to do what you did,” the committee further declared.
But reacting to allegations made by PDP Senators, Chairman, Senate Ad-Committee on Media, Information and Public Affairs, Dino Melaye, expressed shock that such was came from the opposition party.
Melaye said: “We were in this country when the DSS was apparently becoming a parastatal of the PDP. We are coming from an era where you hardly separated the spokesperson of PDP from that of the DSS.
“Now that President Buhari is trying to change the order, there has been a lot of cry and noise making but I want to assure you that no sinner shall go unpunished.
“If you are not guilty, you have nothing to fear but there is a popular Yoruba adage, which states that ‘when a witch exclaims in the night and in the morning the child dies, you know who killed the child.”