CSOs Flay Media Attack On DSS

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Two civil society organisations operating under the aegis of Coalition for Peace In Nigeria, COPIN, and The Iconoclast Media, have condemned last Thursday’s editorial by a national daily, alleging invasion of an Ogun State High Court premises, and subsequent arrest of two suspects by personnel of the Department of State Service, DSS.

Apart from the claim of invasion, the platform also called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to, among others, “curb DSS excesses”.

The Service has, however, debunked the claim, explaining that the suspects were apprehended outside the precinct of the court.

The civil society organisations (CSOs), in separate statements signed on Friday by Pharm. Emeka Akwuobi (national coordinator of COPIN), as well as Dr. Mayago Mayago (national Secretary of The Iconoclast Media), cautioned the media against attempts to blackmail institutions of government.

Specifically, the groups noted that by its establishment, the DSS has wide powers, including the detection and prevention of threats to national security, public safety and assets of government.

“Our investigation showed that the intelligence agency acted based on a report it received on alleged destruction of property, and arson against the suspects.

“The DSS, in our estimation, has a track record of observing the rule of law, and following the due process of law in the execution of its mandate.

“That informs why it ensures that suspects in it’s custody are held based on remand orders,pending when they are arraigned in court, or granted administrative bail, as the case may be.

“We, therefore, call on President Bola Tinubu to disregard the call by the newspaper, or any other entity for that matter, to interfere with the statutory duties of the organisation.

“Above all, we call on CSOs, individuals, groups and stakeholders in the project Nigeria, to give valuable support to government and her institutions, to facilitate the delivery of dividend of democracy to the citizens”, the statement reads.

Meanwhile, the DSS has said that in its “scathing” editorial, the newspaper failed to observe the time-honored journalism tradition, which is balancing of reports.

While acknowledging that the organisation has a right to its opinion, the SSS insisted that it haa a history of respect for, harmonious relationship witj the judiciary as well as judicial officers.

Speaking with newsmen in Abuja, the Director of Public Relations and Strategic Communications, Dr. Peter Afunanya, said: “In Ogun State, it’s very unfortunate that most times, some journalists would choose skewed news rather than factual news.And, the difference in all of this, like I have always at forum of this nature, is that we do not cross check our facts.

His words: “People came to court, people were arrested, but not in the court premises. Not at all; it couldn’t have been.But because some persons had control of the media, it was good for them to report it from a jaundiced point of view, and they sold it.

“But the DSS, over time, has shown good conduct, and has also shown obvious respect for the judiciary.And, judicial officers can bear testimony to this.

“Daily Trust wrote a story that was scathing of the DSS, and I won’t say we take exceptions to that, because it’s your right to express your opinion the way you want.

“But, at least we must continually discharge our responsibilities with every sense of responsibility, patriotism and love for the nation. You mentioned several cases of Emefiele, Bawa.
Some of these cases are subjudicial, and I won’t down here to make comments on them, for the reason that they are in court.

“I’m surprised that Daily Trust did not respect the sanctity of the court to cast SSS in the negative light that it did.
But, we have had a very wonderful relationship with the media.
The DG is not someone, who will be in combat with men of the media.”

He concluded: “We have never been, and we wouldn’t want to be. Isolated cases, but it is not institutional.So, please, once there are things you need clarifications, my doors are open, my lines are open, the DG is open, the Service is open.

“We have an interactive website; you can always approach us to find out what, and we will always give you information, once what you are seeking for is relevant to national security management.”

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