The Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria, HURIWA, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly to come up with a framework for the urgent re-organization of the secret police-Department of State Security, DSS.
The foremost rights advocacy group said in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja that a reform of the police department is necessary to make it more responsive “to the growing trends of crimes and criminality such as armed banditry, terrorism and kidnappings.”
Convener of the group, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko in the statement stressed the importance of having a reformed DSS through a legislation to “focus on eradicating threats to the stability and security of Nigeria such as terrorism, kidnappings for ransom and armed attacks of communities by armed freelance hoodlums rather than its fixation with arresting and detaining civil society activists, media activists or political opponents of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
The statement read in part: “We suggest that rather than the DSS diverting her statutory function to only that of crushing civil rights activists and perceived political opponents of the presidents in office, the DSS should be re-focused to work in a similar form like the United States’ Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI so it can jointly work with the police to crackdown on the widening wave of armed kidnappings and to go after armed bandits and armed herdsmen so as to restore national security and national stability.”
The group added that the call was premised, “against the back drops of recent unfortunate forceful kidnappings and killings of many Nigerians including operatives of the Nigeria police and the Departments of State Services by dare devil armed kidnappers and terrorists especially in the North West of Nigeria.”
According to the group, it makes no sense that the DSS funded by taxpayers in a constitutional democracy “is being used by the President to scuttle the enjoyment and the exercise of the constitutional freedoms which is threatening to turn Nigeria into a police state or fascism.
“The increasing challenges of breakdown of law and order across the country demands immediate, comprehensive, radical reforms of all segments of the armed security services with special attention to the DSS which is increasingly losing focus and is gaining the notoriety as the anti-democratic armed security agency whose mandate is to cripple the expansion of enjoyments of fundamental freedom.”
HURIWA also noted that a cursory look at the Establishment Act setting up the State Security Service now DSS has shown that “the agency ought not to create the public notoriety as the agents of anti-democratic forces but is established to eradicate such heinous crimes that threatens the security and stability of Nigeria.”
“This urgent task of reforming the DSS should be embraced as a national rescue mission because it is indeed embarrassing that officers of DSS, Federal Road Safety Commission and the Civil Defence have all fallen victims of the activities of kidnappers,” it lamented.