Francis Moses in this piece looks into the pros and cons of what is turning into the Dasuki saga, which broke at the weekend with the DSS ordered house arrest of the former Security Adviser in the past administration of President Jonathan
The house arrest of the immediate past National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd.), on the eve of Eid-el-Fitr has begin to draw the attention of political historians who have been making a heavy weather out of it. What makes Dasuki’s arrest ironic, in their estimation, is that on Sallah’s Eve in 1985, Dasuki was one of the four army majors that arrested Buhari at gunpoint on that fateful evening. Others were Abubakar Dangiwa Umar, Lawan Gwadabe, Abdulmumuni Aminu.
And now, on the same day in July 2015, Buhari allegedly orders his arrest. Exactly 30 years later on July 16th 2015, the eve of Salah: DSS officials surrounded the house of former NSA, Colonel Dasuki, retired and arrested him. Though some say it is sweet revenge, others said the former NSA has questions to answer. The former NSA was held alongside a retired colonel, Bello Fadile, between Thursday and Friday. Meanwhile the former NSA boss Dasuki, who house siege was lifted during the weekend by the State Security Service, SSS, after a 24- hour siege on his Abuja residence, has accused the Muhammadu Buhari administration of witch hunt, saying he was badly treated despite his effort at being fair to all while in office. Mr. Dasuki, who was removed from office last week, said his “restraint” and fairness helped the Buhari’s All Progressives Congress, APC-led government to power. He said the government is now desperate to nail him for unclear reasons.
His words “I was fair to all as NSA. Even when I had security cause to act on some issues, inflammatory comments and actions against the government of the day by those in the opposition, I exercised restraint. I did not restrict anyone’s movement, I never asked security agents to occupy anybody’s house. “But that is the new change we have, this is our own definition of democracy. All I know is that everything has a beginning and an end in a democracy. I gave my best for this transition, which led to the victory of the opposition over the ruling party”. He condemned the SSS for also breaking into his father’s house in his home state of Sokoto. Dasuki recounted his experience, and narrated how more than a dozen SSS operatives in two trucks barred him from leaving his house, and stopped other people from entering the property for 24 hours. “The SSS operatives came in two trucks with a search warrant from a Magistrate Court. The warrant gave them the power to search for illegal weapons and any incriminating item. You can imagine what that is supposed to mean,” he said. “I left office on Tuesday and they got the warrant on Wednesday and executed it by 6pm on Thursday.
“From 6pm on Thursday, throughout the night till about 6am this morning (Friday), they were searching my house looking for incriminating items. “They restricted my movement. I cannot go out and no one can visit me. All those who attempted to see me were stopped from doing so. “In fact, my son was blocked from entering my residence. My two cooks, who used to come from their homes to prepare my meals, were also disallowed from leaving my house. “The only person allowed was the man who feeds my dogs. And he only related with the dogs.” He said by Friday morning, the personnel evacuated all the nine cars in his residence. “I could not go out to perform the Eid-el-Fitr prayer because of the restriction,” he said. “Even when I sought permission to go to Eid Praying ground, they promised to provide a vehicle but they never did.” He said the government is desperate about implicating him.
“This is just a witch-hunt; they are desperately looking for something to implicate me. “They went to my father’s house including breaking into the ceiling to look for incriminating documents. They broke a safe in my father’s house. “Also, my sister kept a 20-year old box in my father’s house, they also forced it open. What has my father got to do with this? “And the old man is in hospital in London. He was shocked to hear that they broke into his house. The good thing is that they did not find anything. “They brought the photocopy of a 2007 draft by my brother, Ahmed, and asked me to comment on it. Was I in office in 2007 as NSA? You can see the extent to which they are ready to go to implicate me,” he said. On the allegations against him regarding purchase of arms, funds for counter-insurgency and the seized $15million in South Africa, Mr. Dasuki said: “I read some of these allegations in “The Nation” but nobody has asked me some of these things they are saying. I was not even in charge of some of these things. How do I account for all? “And if you want me to respond to these issues, you have to give me access to relevant documents. You do not need to restrict my movement. You can see that they are just out to set me up. Even if they find a knife in my house, they will say it is incriminating.”
“There are some who should account 10 times for some of these allegations they are raising but they are walking about freely,” he added. Mr. Dasuki said as a retired senior military officer and ex-NSA, he ought to be better treated. “Everybody should know what is happening. They sent some low-level officers, looking for something to implicate me. “It is just a witch-hunt. If you want me to make clarifications on any issue, in the spirit of democracy and the rule of Law, have the courtesy to invite me and as a gentleman, I will honour the invitation. Sending two trucks to lay siege on my house and restrict my movement is just abysmal. “For a man who left office on Tuesday, where will I run to? I have nothing to fear,” he said Similarly The Peoples Democracy Party PDP has condemned the DSS over the invasion and occupation of the residence of a former NSA, Col. Dasuki (retd).
The National Publicity Secretary of the PDP, Chief Olisah Metuh, said the action of the DSS amounted to a violation of the rights of the former NSA and was contrary to the constitution of the country and the tenets of democracy. He stressed that the invasion of the residence of the former NSA was unacceptable in a democratic setting. Metuh made the comment while speaking with journalists at John Kadiya Street, Asokoro, and residence of Dasuki in Abuja over the weekend. The PDP Spokesman was turned back at the gate of Dasuki’s residence by operatives of the commission, who insisted that the residence was under security watch. Metuh said while Nigerians elected Buhari because they wanted him, the actions of some of his aides were scary to the citizenry as they were taking the country back to the dark days of military dictatorship. He said, “I came into Abuja today because I read the situation about the invasion of the house of the former NSA and his detention, house arrest and other matters. So I drove to his house as a personal friend to see him and to find out what is happening. Then about seven or eight security operatives came out and they said I cannot see him because the house is under security watch.
“And I asked them: security watch in terms of treason, or in terms of terrorism, or what? I need to know, and they said they are not in a position to say. And why I asked this question is that if it is under security watch, on account of corruption or on account of any other reason, it is totally against the constitution of this country. “This is a democracy, and the democratic tenets and principles apply. The fact is that we deserve basic freedom, liberties and movements associated with democracy. The truth is that Nigerians are getting scared; we voted for our President, they voted for the President and he was duly elected.
Nigerians wanted him, Nigerians voted for him, and now he is the father of the nation, he is the father of everyone; he is not serving any other interest. “But there are certain activities, as it is happening now, by some of his aides and people around him. It is like they are taking us back to the military era. The last time this happened was under the military.” He urged the Federal Government to stop treating those who served in the last administration under former President Goodluck Jonahan as prisoners of war. He said what the PDP lost was an election and not a war. He called on the government to ensure that those suspected to have committed any act against the laws of the country were handled according to the stipulations of the law. “There has never been any situation where people would be held against their will. It is completely against his fundamental human rights and we should be careful here. We should be very careful because this is how it started in Zimbabwe; this is how it started in other countries.
“Before you know it, we have a dictatorship, you cannot scare us, we are not guilty because we served under a former President, we are not guilty because we lost an election, and we are not losers in a war. We lost an election, not a war, we are not prisoners of war and we should not be treated like prisoners of war. “What we demand is respect, there is the rule of law, we will not condone corrupt activities or any other illegal or unlawful act,” he added But in statement by the DSS and signed by Tony Opuiyo, the security agency denied as allegations, Dasuki’s story that he was been with hunted.
It said: “DSS conducted a search on the properties belonging to the former NSA. The properties are on Nos. 13, John Khadya Street, Nos. 46, Nelson Mandela Street, both at Asokoro, Abuja, and Nos. 3 Sabon Birni Road, Gwiwa Area, Sokoto, Sokoto State. “The search operations were planned to be simultaneously conducted, but Dasuki refused the operatives entry into his main residence located at No. 13 John Khadya Street, Asokoro, despite being presented with a genuine and duly signed search warrant. Consequently, what was to last not more than two hours, lasted more than 10 hours, up till the early hours of July 17. “If not for the sense of maturity and professionalism of the officers and men assigned this task and the very good understanding and timely intervention of the new Chief of Army Staff, Tsukur Buratai (Maj Gen), there would have been a clash between the Army operatives guarding the house and service operatives, as Dasuki directed the soldiers on duty not to allow any movement into his house, despite the subsisting court order.”
“He retired from the Army as a colonel, and therefore, not entitled to have military guards, if not for the fact that he was NSA. Even as NSA, such guards should have been withdrawn after his removal as NSA since he would not have been entitled. “Twelve exotic vehicles were retrieved from Dasuki’s residence having failed to produce evidence of ownership. For instance, what could he be doing with five bullet proof cars as a retired NSA? These cars, which from all available evidence, were purchased with tax payers’ money were being kept for possible sinister enterprise.” Dasuki is said to have threatened to go to court to protect what he considers the violation of his human rights. Until then, the matter is certainly going to raise hackles in the coming weeks.