Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, said yesterday that the invasion of the homes of senior judicial officers by the State Security Service was a disorganised and worrisome act. According to him, the clampdown is a duplication of the function of other anti-corruption agencies, such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and promised sweeping reforms to prevent its recurrence.
Dogara made the observations when he inaugurated a House committee to investigate the clampdown and its aftermath. He said: “It is untidy, it seems, to have multiple agencies exercising similar functions. The EFCC already handles issues of corruption and economic crimes in Nigeria,”
Mr. Dogara said. “Should the State Security Service also be charged with the same functions?” Scores of SSS operatives swooped on the homes of judges in a coordinated raid across the country on October 7. The raid dragged until the next morning, on October 8, before news of the raid filtered to Nigerians.
“The activities of the State Security Service of late have raised concerns in the Nigerian polity as to the propriety of the conduct of officials of the service and whether their actions are consistent with the law setting it up.
“It is in this regard that I enjoin this committee to make relevant findings of fact that will enable the National Assembly initiate the necessary amendments to the National Security Agencies Act —and even the Constitution where necessary— to ensure conformity with the constitutional design and framework that envisage that federal legislative power should be domiciled in the National Assembly and not shared with the executive in the manner provided under the Act,” Dogara said.
He said Buhari’s administration was exploiting a decree promulgated by the last military junta, led by Abdulsalam Abubakar. Abubakar, through an instrument in 1999, expanded the role of SSS to include other functions as dictated by the head of state. But Dogara questioned the validity of instrument since the NSA Act was amongst the four extant laws under the Transitional Provisions an Savings component of the Constitution.
He said: “The National Security Agencies Act is specifically protected by Section 315(5) of the Constitution as it cannot be altered like ordinary Acts of the National Assembly. It has the same alteration procedure like the Constitution as laid down in Section 9 (2) thereof.’’ He charged lawmakers serving in the committee to answer all questions that stemmed from the action of the SSS and recommend all necessary means of forestalling a recurrence, including a possible amendment to the Constitution.