Nigerians on social media have blasted the Department of State Services (DSS) for threatening to hunt down citizens criticising the frustrations experienced and expressed by citizens under President Muhammadu Buhari-led government.
They asked the agency to desist from attempting to infringe on the rights of Nigerians to freely assemble, organise and express themselves without any intimidation.
Peter Afunanya, DSS spokesman had in a statement on Sunday said the service would no longer tolerate those aiming to “throw the country into anarchy.”
“While the Service reaffirms its unambiguous support to an indivisible, indissoluble and united Nigerian State in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, it will no longer tolerate deliberate machinations by subversive and hostile groups whose agenda is to throw the country into anarchy so as to serve the interests of their sponsors.
“Consequently, the Service is assiduously working with other security and law enforcement agencies to ensure the maintenance of peace and internal security of the country,” he said.
Afunanya said among those threatening the federal government and Nigeria’s unity are “some religious and past political leaders who have either called for a forceful change of government or mass action against it.”
“It has been established that the main objective for these is to cause a disintegration of the country,” he added.
“It is unfortunate that those in the forefront of this are respectable individuals who should be patriotic and not allow their personal ambitions to ruin the nation. The Service has also noted their desperation and penchant to collaborate with external forces and influences against Nigeria.
“They are reminded that even though democracy offers free speech, it does not give room to reckless pronouncements capable of undermining security. It is instructive to note that the ballot box remains the vehicle of change in a democracy.
“In this regard, self-centred individuals and groups are warned to stop engaging in acts inimical to the peace and sovereignty of this nation. In the same manner, influential personalities should be sensitive to emerging situations and guard against divisive and inciting utterances that may cause a breakdown of law and order.”
The statement has continued to generate a backlash as many Nigerians urged the service to tackle the insecurity manifested through the 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.”
SaharaReporters, New York