CLAIM: “DSS… They are not to arrest,” says Afe Babalola (SAN).
FALSE: Granted, the State Security Service (SSS) unconstitutionally refers to itself as the Department of State Services (DSS). However, there is no provision in the constitution or the National Security Agency Act that categorically states the inability of the SSS to make arrests.
Afe Babalola SAN, renowned legal luminary had a lot to say concerning the Department of State Services’ (DSS) sting operation in 2016. During the Channels TV News night, he commented on the raid conducted on judges’ homes by the DSS.
“The DSS duty in law is merely to gather information and give it to the President and all that. They are not to arrest.”Afe Babalola SAN
The 2016 raid on Judges by DSS was neither the first nor the last incidence pertaining to an alleged unlawful arrest. As far back as 2014, Asari Dokubo, the Niger Delta Militant head was arrested for making inciting comments. Other cases include the arrest and re-arrest of Jones Abiri in 2016 and March 2019; with the most recent being the arrest of Omoyele Sowore on accounts of treason. The latter was featured in a Dubawa fact-check analysis, with a number of people calling to question the legality of the arrest by DSS.
At the time of conducting this fact-check, we are yet to touch base with Afe Babalola SAN to authentify his claims. Although, research revealed no legal precedence in case law to corroborate this claim. This fact-check will however be updated if and when new information arises.
Nonetheless we referred to the National Security Agencies Act, Decree 19 of June 5, 1986, for verification. The Act establishes the State Security Service and two other intelligence agencies for the Nigerian State after the dissolution of the Nigeria Security Organisation but did not mention anything about Department of State Service. This confirms what the fact-check done by Premium Times revealed. The name Department of State Services (DSS) has been unconstitutionally substituted to mean State Security Service (SSS). The check confirmed that the name change started when Marilyn Ogar was the spokesperson of the Intelligence Agency from 2009 to 2015.
Subject to varied interpretations
Nonetheless, there is no mention of the SSS’s ability or inability to make arrests. According to the Act, these are their responsibilities:
The State Security Service shall be charged with responsibility for –
(a) the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria;
(b) the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria; and
(c) such other responsibilities affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary.
Examining subsection 3a, the prevention and detection of crimes against the internal security is subjective to various interpretations in the rule of law. It could very well grant them legal backing to do whatever in their jurisdiction to uphold their constitutional responsibility. Consequently, it is false to categorically assert their legal insufficiency to make arrests.
Note, we are not saying they have the right to make arrests, as that is not categorically stated either.
The claim is FALSE. Granted, the State Security Service (SSS) unconstitutionally refers to itself as the Department of State Services (DSS). However, there is no provision in the constitution or the National Security Agency Act that categorically states the insufficiency or sufficiency of the SSS to make arrests.