Why DSS Boss Was ‘Sacked’

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Ita Ekpeyong
Ekpeyong

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Ita Ekpeyong, former director general of the Department of State Security Service, was removed from his post because of his inability to comply with the directive of the Presidency

| By Olu Ojewale | Jul 13, 2015 @ 01:00 GMT |

THE news was not entirely a surprise. But what made it a surprise was that Ita Ekpeyong, hitherto director of the director general of the Department of State Security Service, DSS, who was removed from office on Thursday, July 2. Haruna Imrana, director of communications in the Office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation, has since announced the appointment of Lawal Musa Daura as the acting DG of the DSS.

For many persons who are familiar with Ekpeyong’s antecedents, his removal was not a surprise, considering the role he played before, during and after the last general elections. But what actually got him into trouble was his act of insubordination to the presidential directive.

According to sources close to the DSS who is not authorised to speak to the press, Ekpeyong actually politicised the agency under the past administration. For instance, it was gathered that after the inauguration President Muhammadu Buhari, the President issued a directive to all the service chiefs, including the DSS to furnish the Presidency with the list of personnel who would constitute the Presidential security detail. This would give the Presidency an ample time to screen the officers before their arrival at the Villa. All the service chiefs were said to have immediately complied, except Ekpeyong.

Instead of complying with the order, the former DG reportedly posted 253 of his men to the Presidency on Wednesday, June 10 without any approval. Besides, Ekpeyong without any authorisation, posted one of his personal assistants to the Presidency as the administration officer.

In August 2012, Ekpeyong reportedly acted with impunity by redeploying 50 DSS officers of Northern origins out of the Presidency. He also removed 10 officers from the South West and seven from the South East and replaced with selected DSS officers from Niger Delta.

Before the 2015 general elections, there was a running battle between the DSS and the All Progressives Congress, APC. In January, the DSS said that it had uncovered lists containing names and photographs of security personnel, foreigners and under-aged children on the registered members’ list of the APC.

Marilyn Ogar, spokesperson of DSS, at a news conference in Abuja, alleged that the DSS had a video with a tutorial for hacking was also uncovered when the service raided a building in Lagos. But the APC had then dismissed the allegation as baloney.

Lai Mohammed, national publicity secretary, had said in a statement then: “We have always warned that our democracy is in clear and present danger, not just from desperate politicians, but also from institutions of state that have compromised in their roles and resorted to crass lawlessness. The DSS’ ‘findings’ today have given us another reason to repeat this warning.”

The DSS under Ekpeyong was alleged to have variously helped the former ruling party to rig elections and also terrorise members of the opposition. All these and more, Realnews learnt, prompted the president to sack Ekpeyong.

Daura
Daura

In any case, the sack does not get the sympathy of many Nigerians who also reflected that under the former DG, the DSS was actually politicised. Waheed Quadri, a public commentator, said it was a good riddance. Quadri said what happened to Ekpeyong should be a lesson to others who might want to be as overzealous as he was. He said: “If you are in an institution, you have to be very careful. What happened before elections, during elections and after elections clearly showed that the DSS was partisan. That should not be so. What happened that time was worrisome but I am happy because that would teach others that when you belong to a government agency you should not be partisan and if you do you will dearly pay for it. Thank God the man has paid for his sins. I am waiting for what would be done to Marylyn Ogar (DSS spokesperson) too to pay for her sin.

While Onyekachi Ubani, a lawyer and human rights activist, is not condemning the sack, he, however, cautioned the Buhari administration to be conscious of the fact that the Nigeria is not yet a united country. He said every appointment and sack would be viewed along ethnic and religious lines. “This is a government that we consider to be a social crusader and to correct some of the impunities in the system. We have seen where things are being done to reflect impunity on the side of the government. If you are appointing you must also be sensitive about it; it is very key. The government should take decisions that reflect the mood of Nigerians.”

Notwithstanding his ethnicity or religious belief, Daura who has been appointed to replace Ekpeyong appears to be eminently qualified to hold the post. Daura, 61, was educated at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, from 1977 to 1980. He started his career in the State Security Service in 1982 and rose to the rank of a director.

He was at one time the deputy director, Presidential Communications, Command and Control Centre, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, between 2003 and 2007. Daura also served as state director, Security Service, at various times for states like Kano, Sokoto, Edo, Lagos, Osun and Imo.

He attended various professional courses, both at home and abroad, including the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru.

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