From Mfon Ekefre, Uyo
A presidential aide, Senator Ita Enang, has argued that operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) have the legal cover to search any building in the country.
Senator Enang spoke in reaction to the on-going wrangling generated by a recent search of Akwa Ibom State Government House Uyo by the DSS.
According to Enang who is also a lawyer, “DSS operatives are empowered to carry out lawful search in any location within the country as stated in the constitution.”
He added: “Akwa Ibom people must stand up and tell the truth that Government House is not immune to investigation by the security agencies. The Elders of Akwa Ibom must endeavour to tell the people that Government House has no immunity and that Governor Udom Emmanuel is yet to officially occupy the Government House.”
He said the DSS was “only doing a routine job and that there was nothing like ‘invasion’ as reported by a section of the media.”
Enang said he had spoken with some of the elders whose names appeared on the newspaper advertorial, condemning the DSS search on Akwa Ibom State Government House and that more than 70 per cent of them said they did not authorise their names to be used for the publication.
To Governor Udom Emmanuel, he said, “our party is in court for the governorship election , but that will not interfere with my close working relationship with you on matters within the context of the Constitution since you have been sworn–in as the governor because if I fail, to do so, Akwa Ibom people will suffer.”
It would be recalled that after the DSS search of the Government House, Uyo, a group called Leaders of Uyo condemned the action of the security agents.
The two-page statement, which was signed by 31 people, alleged that the action was a clear breach of the governor’s immunity and a continuation of alleged programmed harassment which the federal authorities have persistently visited on opposition elements since after the election.
The elders said the action held the entire Government House complex and the adjoining areas of the state capital to ransom. This, they argued, was clear evidence that the action was not just a routine surveillance act, but a calculated attempt at intimidating the governor and his government in the face of the federal might.
They elders wrote: “We condemn this emerging act of fascism before it consumes our well cherished democracy. We will not keep quiet and watch our cherished Constitution being raped and desecrated in the alter of partisanship.
“In as much as we appreciate the responsibilities of agencies of government in carrying out their assigned roles, it would be necessary for the federal government to call its agents to order and restrain them from involving in activities that have the tendency of upsetting the peaceful nature of our society.
“We therefore condemn in the strongest terms the invasion of Government House, Uyo by agents of the DSS and will resist with every fibre in our veins attempts to treat our state as a conquered territory.”
But in a counter-statement, another group which tagged itself “Elders, stakeholders and leaders of Uyo” on Monday backed the DSS action.
They condemned in strongest terms the attack on DSS “by some cheerleaders and paid group who hide under the cover of Akwa Ibom Leaders Forum and other proxy groups to foment trouble against the legally constituted security agency like the DSS,” describing the attack as “embarrassing and war against the President Buhari-led government.”
The group wrote: “We were surprised at the rather inconsistent, indecent and amateur manner with which Governor Udom Emmanuel has asked people to remain calm, but surreptitiously orchestrate and fund all manner of press conferences and advertorials in national and local papers aimed at black mailing, embarrassing and ridiculing both the DSS and the Federal Government under President Buhari.
“As if that was not enough, the Chief Press Secretary and the Information Commissioner were working over-time to inundate the media with critical and negative articles to portray the DSS and the Presidency in bad light to the public and bring the Federal Government into opprobrium”.
From Mfon Ekefre, Uyo