*Speaker: Your plot to coerce us against our governor will fail
*DSS’ action highly condemnable, highly dictatorial and very, very undemocratic, says Ozekhome
By Ndubuisi Michaels
The Ekiti State House of Assembly, at the weekend, cried out over the
invasion of the Assembly complex on Friday by operatives of the
Department of State Services (DSS) and abduction of some of its
members, warning that it would not condone dictatorial tendencies in
the current democratic era.
The House raised the alarm at a press conference addressed by the
Speaker, Right Honourable (Pastor) Kola Oluwawole; his deputy, Right
Honourable Segun Adewumi; chairman of House Committee on Health, Dr
Babajide Omotoso, and other House members that were not affected by
the DSS abduction, on Saturday.
In a statement at the briefing, Pastor Oluwawole condemned the manner
in which the DSS operatives stormed the Assembly complex, at about
3.00 p.m., on Friday, shooting sporadically into the sky and sending
staff and members scampering for safety, after which four of the
legislators around were taken to an unknown whereabouts.
A statement by the chairman of the House Committee on Information,
Chief Olugboyega Aribisogan, which detailed the development, added
that various committee members of the House were having meetings
connected with their oversight functions at the time of the incident.
He said it was after more than six hours that one of the affected
lawmakers, Honourable Akanni Afolabi, representing Efon constituency,
was able to contact his colleagues, disclosing that he was whisked to
Abuja by the security men, adding that the whereabouts of the
remaining three legislators was yet to be known.
“We have called you here to intimate the public through your various
media, the clandestine plot by the President Mohammadu Buhari-led All
Progressives Congress (APC) Federal Government to destabilise the
Ekiti State government, using the instrumentalities of the Department
of State Services (DSS).
“Yesterday, the House of Assembly chamber was invaded by armed men of
the DSS, not minding that various committees of the House were
meeting. More than 10 DSS men who were armed to the teeth invaded the
Assembly complex, shooting sporadically into the air, thereby causing
panic among members and staff of the House of Assembly, who had to
scamper for safety.
“At the end of the commotion created by this barbaric act, we
discovered that four of our members could not be found. It was only
this morning (Saturday) that we were able to establish that Honourable Afolabi Akanni, representing Efon Constituency, was abducted and taken to
Abuja. Whereabouts of three other members is still unknown as we
speak, and reasons for the invasion and abduction of our members are
not known,” he lamented.
Oluwawole laid the blame of the invasion and abduction of his
colleagues at the door step of the Federal Government, induced by the
APC, vowing that their known plot to “harass and intimidate” the
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led government in the state would never
“However, we got it on good authority that the script now being acted
by the DSS is part of the APC and President Buhari’s clandestine plot
to cripple the Ekiti State Government by arresting and detaining top
functionaries of the government. The plot is to harass, intimidate and
embarrass top officials of the Ayodele Fayose-led government because
of his critical stance on the Buhari-led government.
“We are aware that 18 of our members have been penciled in for
harassment and the game plan is to harass them to submission, with a
view to coercing them into signing an already prepared notice of
impeachment of the governor and his deputy.
“However, we wish to inform those orchestrating the harassment and
intimidation of officials of the Ekiti State government, especially
honourable members of the State House of Assembly that this is 2016
and not 2006. The same tactics used 10 years ago to truncate democracy
in Ekiti State will not work this time,” Oluwawole added.
He maintained that the House would never make itself available for
anyone to destabilize a democratically-elected government in the
state, adding that the DSS drama that played out in Akwa Ibom State
last year shrouded in secrecy was what was being re-enacted in Ekiti
“We, therefore, wish to tell the APC agents of political instability
that this time around, this House of Assembly will not be available
for any ungodly use. We also wish to remind Nigerians of how in
September last year, the Federal Government invaded the Akwa Ibom
State Government House with armed men of the DSS.
“Up till today, Nigerians are yet to be told officially why, in a
federal system of government in which federating units enjoy some
degree of autonomy, the Government House occupied by a governor who
enjoys the same immunity enjoyed by the President as provided by the
1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria was invaded by
armed men of the DSS.
“While we are not afraid of persecution from anyone or government
agency, including the DSS, we wish to state that the level at which
the Buhari-led Federal Government is taking political vendetta and
muzzling of opposition both in the Peoples PDP and within the APC is
dangerous to the survival of democracy in the country.
“Nigeria is not a banana republic that can be ruled anyhow by anyone
and Mr Lawal Daura (from Katsina) and his men, who are playing exactly
the same role played between 1984 and 1985 by the National Security
Organisation (NSO) under Lawal Rafindadi (from Katsina) should know
that this reign of brute force over constitutional democracy will
fail. This is because we have seen them operate before and here they
are now, trying to take us back to that inglorious era of dictatorship
and barbarism where the DSS (then NSO) was used to oppress Nigerians,
throwing them in jail without trial. This time around, we are in a
democracy that can never accommodate that 1984 era of draconian rule.
“Lastly, let it be reiterated once again that this House of Assembly
is a partner in the progress of the Ekiti State government under the
able leadership of Governor Peter Ayodele Fayose. Therefore, the
Abuja-based agents of destabilisation should get it into their heads
that we will never be harassed or intimidated into buying into their
sinister agenda,” the Speaker said.
Meanwhile, reacting to the development, a Constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said the Indian of the Ekiti Assembly is highly condemnable.
Speaking to METROWATCH, Chief Ozekhome said: “The action of the DSS in invading the Ekiti State House of Assembly and taking away legislators is highly condemnable, highly dictatorial and very, very undemocratic.”
He also argued that “A House of Assembly is hallowed and sacred and should never be desecrated on any account.”
He explained that “The DSS is primarily responsible for security matters and for intelligence gathering within Nigeria, for the protection of senior government officials, the President and state governors. It is neither the Police nor EFCC.”
The human rights activist also said that “The invasion is more curious and detestable, happening as it did, in Ekiti State where the governor, Ayodele Fayose, had been a well known critic of President Muhammadu Buhari, his government and the party, APC.
“The impression must not be given that the present government, which rode on the crest of popular opposition and critical dissent is muzzling opposition, or brow beating and intimidating those who hold different opinions.
For there to be an invasion of a House of Assembly is a very serious thing which goes against the grain of democratic practice and observance of the rule of law.”
He explained that “Our constitutional democracy envisages robust opposition, because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Nigerians’ freedoms, liberties and rights should be allowed to flourish and should not be abridged or decimated on the alter of political expediency.”
Ozekhome reminded those in authority that “Power itself is ephemeral. It’s wielders should always act with discretion, respect for the Constitution and extant laws. I call on the DSS to immediately release the legislators, or charge them to any court of the land.”