The Present Culture of SSS in Nigeria Needs Major Intervention Going Forward
As we move forward in our growing democracy, the State Security Service (SSS) or the Department of State Services must proceed from the starting point of non-political and professional commitment in the course of performing its law enforcement duties with its police force.
In recent times the leadership and operational culture of the State Security Service, in psychological terms, has become abnormal in its functions and to some extent has lost contact with professional reality, and as it is now, stands out as more of a threat to itself and the people.
The State Security Service in its capacity as a federal law enforcement body is currently being viewed as a partisan agency that is more heavily involved in domestic repression instead of domestic protection within our society.
In the era of the Jonathan administration, while the SSS continued to serve as that body to help protect and defend the our government against domestic threats, assist in the protection of leadership and carry out law enforcement services at both the federal and state levels, its enforcement of criminal laws appeared decidedly one-sided and openly partisan in its outlook.
Recently we saw how its top investigative priorities focused on All Progressive Congress (APC), one of the nation's political parties. In recent times, the SSS's maltreatment of APC's members, associates and business partners was very obvious and SSS marked them out as if they were representatives of a criminal organization.
A case in point is the State Security Service arrest and detention of some workers of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in a raid in Lagos in November, 2014. In this case, the SSS, which is constitutional ly charged to protect the civil rights of its citizens, arrested and detained these workers, unlawfully denying them their personal liberties and reportedly denying them access to any member of their families.
These APC's workers suffered illegal detention with no official criminal charges and were unlawfully kept for fraudulent allegations of forgery and election-related offences.
The warrant used to remand them was perverted as it came from a magistrate court in Kaduna with no jurisdiction on the case as the alleged offence occurred in Lagos.
Going forward, the SSS needs some wholesome cleaning in order to refocus the agency. What we need now is for the SSS to become fair, impartial and a neutral security body politically and electorally.
The legal personality of the SSS in terms of leadership and operations can at this time no longer be viewed as a neutral federal law enforcement agency until it receives a comprehensive behavioral, ethical and programmatic intervention.
With a new image during the post-Jonathan administration, the people could again see it as capable of ensuring the safety of all Nigerians.
Dr. John Egbeazien Oshodi is a Forensic/Clinical Psychologist, a Consultant in National Psychology, and a former Secretary-General of the Nigeria Psychological Association. [email protected]