Nigerians on social media have slammed the Department of State Services (DSS) for trying to track down people who have expressed their dissatisfaction with President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
They requested the agency to stop attempting to infringe on Nigerians’ rights to freely assemble, organise, and express themselves without fear of repercussions.
In a statement issued on Sunday, DSS spokesman Peter Afunanya said the service would no longer tolerate anyone seeking to “throw the country into anarchy.”
“While the Service reaffirms its unambiguous support for an indivisible, indissoluble, and independent Nigerian State in compliance with the provisions of the Constitution, it will no longer accept deliberate machinations by subversive and hostile groups whose agenda is to destabilise the country in order to serve the interests of their sponsors.
“As a result, the Service is assiduously collaborating with other intelligence and law enforcement agencies to ensure the country’s stability and internal security,” he said.
Among those challenging the federal government and Nigeria’s unity, according to Afunanya, are “some religious and former political leaders who have either called for a forceful change of government or mass action against it.”
“It has been identified that the main goal of these is to cause the nation to disintegrate,” he said.
“It is unfortunate that those at the forefront of this are honourable people who should be patriotic and not let their personal ambitions destroy the nation. The Service has also acknowledged their desperation and proclivity to work with external powers and influences against Nigeria.
“They are reminded that, while democracy allows for free expression, it does not allow for irresponsible declarations capable of undermining protection. It is instructive to remember that in a democracy, the ballot box remains the vehicle of reform.
“In this regard, self-centered individuals and groups are cautioned to refrain from participating in actions that are detrimental to the nation’s peace and sovereignty. In the same way, powerful people should be aware of evolving circumstances and avoid inflammatory and inciting remarks that might lead to a breakdown of law and order.”
The statement has continued to elicit criticism, with many Nigerians urging the service to address the insecurity exhibited by marauding unknown gunmen, Boko Haram, kidnappers, and bandits.
A Twitter user, @@cvickright, “From whose purse is Buhari and the DSS paid? If it’s Buhari’s money, they have the right to insinuate such, if it’s our money, Buhari and DSS should go away. Buhari has proven to be a disaster, he needed not be pampered, or told what he wants to hear by those morons.#ResignNow.”
Another user, “@OnasanyaG said, ‘DSS suddenly found it has lost voice. During the Pantami saga, DSS went on sabbatical. Now it’s Fr Mbaka, DSS suddenly found it’s voice. This clannish sentiment is overbearing. It’s shameful. They have lost all modicum of trust and integrity.”
For @Achopa5, “Since SSS changed to DSS, they have become a disaster, maybe the D stands for disaster.”
Since SSS changed to DSS they have become a disaster maybe the D stands for disaster.
— Achopa (@Achopa5) May 3, 2021
@prince_ironsi wrote, “We won’t allow unsavoury statements, those statements from Gumi are called what, DSS? It’s only in Nigeria some persons are allowed to behave and talk anyhow but some don’t have the right to say anything. Gumi has been speaking and Miyetti Allah but just because Mbaka spoke.”
We wonât allow unsavory statements, those statements from Gumi is called what DSS? Itâs only in Nigeria some persons are allowed to behave and talk anyhow but some donât have the right to say anything. Gumi has been speaking and miyetti Allah but just because Mbaka spoke.
— @prince_ironsi (@prince_ironsi) May 3, 2021
@lomon_ said, ”I remember how the internet was filled with videos of this same DSS conveying armed dan daba in their official vehicles to disrupt and attack legitimate and peaceful #EndSARS protesters last October.”
@pdauda wrote, “In Buhari’s Nigeria, criticising the president is unpatriotic despite his obvious ineffectuality and aloofness. DSS designates people who point out the raging insecurity and poor quality of government as being more dangerous to Nigeria than terrorists, bandits and kidnappers!!”
@iamlammyz said, “DSS needs sense. They need someone sensible to lead them. You can’t track down Boko Haram, bandits, herdsmen and unknown gunmen but you can do that to people who know that your government has been the worst we’ve ever had in Nigeria. Unfortunate people.”