The Department of State Services (DSS) has reiterated its commitment to neutrality and professionalism in the presidential elections billed to hold tomorrow Saturday 25th February, 2023. The Service also stated that it made some arrests and recovered arms and ammunition which may have been deployed for the elections. National Association of Online Security News Publishers, NAOSNP gathered this information when the DSS had a joint security press briefing at defence headquarters, Abuja yesterday 23rd February 2023.
In his press release made available to NAOSNP, the Service’s PRO, Peter Afunanya disclosed: ‘As you are aware, the general elections will commence on 25th February, 2023-just a few hours from now. The DSS assures of its commitment to a peaceful exercise. It pledges its neutrality, professionalism and good conduct of its personnel to the democratic process. It will continue to discharge its mandate of disseminating timely, actionable and proactive intelligence necessary for tactical, operational and strategic decisions even beyond the elections.
Also, it will partner with other sister security and law enforcement agencies; all levels and arms of Government and indeed all stakeholders particularly the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) and relevant Non-Governmental and Civil Society Organisations to ensure a hitch free electoral exercise. In this regard, we call on all citizens and residents to be law abiding before, during and after the elections. Eligible voters are enjoined to cast their votes without any form of violence and also maintain the peace after that.’
On arrests made, NAOSNP gathered: ‘To achieve the desired environment for the elections, the Service engaged in proactive and intelligence-led operations across the States. For instance, on 22nd February, 2023, the Service conducted a legally backed search operation on a property along Airport Road, Nasarawa LGA, Kano State. During the operation, it recovered dangerous weapons including a gun, daggers, swords, jack-knives from the said building. Therefore, the accusation that the Service intimidated a particular political party in that State is untrue; otherwise, how come those weapons were found there? Are those objects of violence campaign materials? Whether in Kano or elsewhere, the DSS has provided equal opportunities for all political parties to engage in their lawful activities. We can say this without any form of contradictions or equivocations.’
‘On the same 22nd February, 2023, the Service arrested a gunrunner, Aliyu YAHAYA, an associate of Kachalla Damina, a suspected bandit who operates around Dansadau, Zamfara State. Items recovered from YAHAYA include: one GPMG Rifle; one chain of ammunition, One Hundred and Ninety (190) rounds of GMPG Ammunition, Twenty Eight (28) rounds of AK47 Ammunition and One (1) grenade. The suspect was going to deliver the armaments to DAMINA. In Kaduna State, two (2) arm couriers namely Tukur Usman and Illiyasu Adamu were arrested at Chikun LGA, on 20th February, 2023. Three Hundred and Seventy-Two (372) rounds of 7.62 X 39mm ammunition; Twenty-Six (26) rounds of live ammunition for GPMG rifle were recovered from them. The duo were suspected arm suppliers to bandits in Zamfara State.
Earlier, on 22nd January, 2023, the duo of Shafíu Usman and Ahmed Nasiru were arrested on the Barkin Ladi-Pankshin Road, Plateau State while on transit to deliver ammunition to their customers. Six Hundred and Twelve (612) rounds of ammunition for GPMG-120 and AK-492 concealed in a bag of rice were seized from them.’
‘On 16th February, 2023, at Asaba, Delta State, Fajuwon Isaac was arrested. Four Thousand, Five and Three (4,503) rounds of pump action rifle ammunition among others were recovered from him. On 18th February, 2023, in Anambra State, the Service arrested the quartet of Sunday Muokwue, Oforjeri Osita, Ude Bernard John and Okechukwu Emeka and recovered among others from them, one AK-47, Three Thousand, Nine Hundred and Eighty Five (3,985) rounds of AK-47 ammunition’
These operations, Afunanya noted ‘are a continuation of similar ones executed in December 2022 and January, 2023 during which suspects were arrested and arms and ammunition recovered across the geo-political zones of the country. On the security situation in Sagamu, Ogun State, the Service is working with relevant agencies to bring those behind the violent protest to book. After due investigations, all the suspects will be charged to court. In furtherance of its collaborative efforts, the Service has engaged stakeholders including the Media, Faith and Community Based Organisations, Civil Society and others.
While this is part of its non-kinetic strategies to maintain peace and public order before, during and after the elections, it will also not rest on its oars to identify and disrupt subversive tendencies; be they terrorists, kidnappers, hostage takers or outlawed violent separatist agitators and their likes. In discharging its mandate, the DSS will be fair, objective, transparent and accountable but like the President has directed, “Firm and Courageous”. It will abide by the rule of law and comply with the tenets of democracy. The Service will be decisive in the implementation of its responsibilities and this will be done without let or hindrance.’
‘For the media, the Service recognises you as partners in nation building. We wish to advise that deliberate effort is made to shun fake or misleading news. Unverified and unsubstantiated news could cause harm to the election and its outcomes. Fake news could also incite violence. Consequently, you should exercise restraint in the news you may wish to publish or relay. At the end of the day, there should be a country before there can be a President, a Governor or Parliamentarian. People should not see elections as a do-or-die affair. Nigerians are called upon to be patriotic in exercising their franchise. We should give peace a chance. To strengthen these efforts, the Service has consolidated its public communication platforms. For ease of access, its website (www.dss.gov.ng) will remain interactive as ever; same with the email (firstname.lastname@example.org). Citizens and residents are at liberty to reach out to any of our offices nationwide. Open lines at the Headquarters are: +234 9153391309, +234 9153391310, +234 9088373514.’
NAOSNP gathered that the Service Command offices at the Local Government and State levels have been directed to assist the Police which is the lead Agency in the exercise to ensure adequate security. The DGSS, Yusuf Magaji Bichi, CFR, fwc wishes all Nigerians successful and peaceful elections.