Akwa Ibom: Is Impunity Winning The War Over Immunity?

Tahir Sherriff

Focus has been consistently maintained on the government, the governor and the people of Akwa Ibom state. From strict monitoring during the recently concluded elections to intense post-election court cases and a series of breaking news on newspapers and the internet.

A recent invasion of a residence in Akwa Ibom state, belonging to the state governor, by the State Security Service, is a strong indication of continuing tensions.

What began as a series of rumors and speculations is gradually evolving into a political crisis, that could have strong legal and constitutional implications. The Members of the Akwa-Ibom house of Assembly have called on the President to respond by ensuring a thorough investigation is carried out on the incident.


Response from Akwa Ibom state

Speaker of the Akwa-Ibom House of Assembly Aniekan Uko while speaking to journalists during a press briefing asked specifically why the governor of Akwa-Ibom state was being singled out and stripped of the rights provided for him under the law.

“We are firm in the belief that if the raid on the Hilltop Mansion was not an act of felony, persecution and political vendetta, the DSS would have declared their mission before unleashing terror on innocent workers of Akwa Ibom State Government and or openly declare to the authorities in the state what they found and what they took away from our Government House.” -Aniekan

Is the SSS taking responsibility?

Although pictures of the invasion which members of the Assembly claim was spear-headed by the SSS are yet to be officially released, and no statements have been put forward by the agency, Aneikan called for a thorough investigation into the event which occurred, and within the agency by the office of the President.

Several political pundits have responded to the event and have called on the President to take decisive action. Ekiti State Governor, Ayodele Fayose also condemned the invasion with the words ‘regrettable, unfortunate, condemnable and unacceptable’. But the State Security Service is still yet to respond to these allegations.

Former National Security Adviser, Mr. Sambo Dasuki, in July gave a public outcry over what he deemed a plot by the State Security Service (SSS) to implicate him in alleged security breaches. Dasuki said the invasion of his house by SSS operatives was a sheer witch-hunt, and expressed sadness that the operatives forced their way into his ailing father’s house in Sokoto and broke open his safe.

“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.” –Dasuki


Political Implications

The mission of the SSS is to protect and defend the Federal Republic of Nigeria against domestic threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of Nigeria, and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to both federal and state law-enforcement organs. An invasion of a government house by an agency of the state established to protect the rights, privileges and lives of its citizens speaks in volumes on possible rights violations and constitutional breaches. But most importantly, it is likely to undermine trust in these institutions.

Akwa Ibom state is currently the largest oil producing state in Nigeria, and like all other oil producing states in Nigeria, it is still politically in the hands of the opposition party, the PDP. Political pundits have pointed out that this could be a key factor in the political storm the state is currently undergoing.

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