Blundered Appointment Of Director General Of SSS: Critical Questions Before Buhari & APC
(Onitsha Nigeria, 2nd August 2015)-The leadership of International Society for Civil Liberties & the Rule of Law (Intersociety) had in its 28th July 2015 maiden letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, condemned, among other things, the anomalous appointment of Mr. Lawal Ahmed Daura as the Director General of the Department of State Security Services (DSS/SSS).
By Section 315 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, with its last amendment in 2011, all laws and procedural rules deemed as “Acts of the Federation”, “Laws of the State” and “other administrative laws”, including “the National Security Agencies Act (Decree 19) of 1986”, “the Presidential Proclamation; SSS Instrument 1 of 1999” and “Civil/Public Service Rules of the Federation” are recognized by the Constitution; provided their provisions are not repugnant to the provisions of the Constitution.
By the general rules governing the Nigerian Civil/Public Service, there are express provisions for “active public/civil service workforce” and “retired civil/public service workforce”. The chief remuneration of serving workforce is called “salary” and that of retired workforce is called “pension”. The former’s beneficiary is called “a salary earner” and the latter’s beneficiary is called “a pensioner”. To retire statutorily from civil service or public service, he or she must attain the age of 60 or serve 35 years. Few exceptions are applicable in the Army, Air Force, Navy, Police and their likes as well as the Judiciary where retirement can be effected following appointment of younger officers and course-mates leading to retirement of older ones. In the Judiciary, the age of retirement for judges has been increased to 65 (other judges) and 70 years (Appeal & Supreme Court Justices).
However, there is no provision or procedure whatsoever under the present constitutional democracy, governed by the 1999 Constitution where “ a statutorily retired officer in the Nigeria Police Force, Prisons Service, Immigration Service, Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps, Custom Service, Army, Navy or Air Force is recalled to active service and made its active head. Such a retired officer can only be appointed to head a civil body having an over-sight supervision; such as the Police Service Commission. In the Judiciary, a statutorily retired judge can never be recalled and appointed as “Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN)” or “President of the Court of Appeal (PCA)”.
But in the instant case, this is an intelligence and force body called “the Department of State Security Services”. It is a ranking and procedural body governed by the Constitution and public/civil service rules. It has serving officers and retired officers who are also pensionable; among them is retired Director Lawal Ahmed Daura, who retired statutorily in 2013. Like the ranking in the Nigeria Police Force, which starts from “Constable” and ends with “Inspector Genera”; the DSS/SSS also starts with “Detective 11”, followed by “Detective 1”, to “Chief Detective” and ends with “Director General”. At the State level, there are “Directors” and “Assistant Directors” and at the top, there are “Director General”, “Deputy Director General” and “Assistant Directors General”.
President Muhammadu Buhari had on 2nd July 2015 appointed his kinsman, Mr. Lawal Ahmed Daura from his retirement as the new Director General of SSS. Records showed that Mr. Daura retired in 2013 at the rank of a “director” after holding State directorship in about five States including Lagos and Imo. As a retired director of SSS, he worked for Buhari and his party-APC and chaired their security & intelligence 2015 election sub-committee from where he was called back from retirement and made the DG of SSS/DSS in shocking, alarming and deafening circumstances.
Having observed ongoing verbal exchanges between the federally ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) and federally opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) over the issue, we make bold to say that Mr. Lawal Ahmed Daura’s presidential appointment as the DG of DSS/SSS is not only anomalous and shocking, but also ultra vires, unconstitutional and impeachable. The APC and the PDP’s exchanges under reference restricted to accusation and counter-accusation of “favoritism and nepotism”; clearly missed the fact that the appointment is fundamentally grounded in constitutional and statutory breaches.
Their reported exchanges failed woefully to raise and answer the following questions: Can a statutorily retired officer of the Army, Navy, Police, Air Force, Custom Service, Nigerian Security & Civil Defense Corps, Immigration Service, Prison Service and their likes be called back from statutory retirement and appointed the head of any of them? Specifically, can a statutorily retired Director of SSS/DSS be called back from statutory retirement and made the DG of DSS/SSS? Which constitutional provision or statutory provision empowers President Muhammadu Buhari in his capacity as the Commander-in-Chief of the Nigerian Armed Forces to recall a statutorily retired officer of the armed forces including the DSS/SSS and make him or her the head of a branch of the armed forces with particular reference to the DSS/SSS?
We challenge the authorities of the federally ruling party-the APC and the Buhari’s Presidency to provide concrete and constitutionally and statutorily grounded answers to the above questions as a matter of uttermost immediacy and extreme public importance. Where the questions are unable to be answered as totally demanded in 72 hours, then the appointment should be reversed immediately with unreserved public apologies from the duo of the Presidency and the APC.
Uzochukwu Oguejiofor, Esq., Head, Campaign & Publicity Department