On more occasions than one, the spokesperson of the Department of State Services (DSS), Marilyn Ogar, has wounded the reputation of her organisation, and committed violence against the psyche of Nigerians through her unguarded, embarrassing and unprofessional utterances. Her latest – linking some unnamed members of the opposition All Progressives Congress (APC) to the Boko Haram insurgency – followed on the trail of similar earlier questionable vituperations against perceived opponents of the federal government. In the process, she has consistently portrayed her organization as mere tool for political propaganda and intimidation, rather than the professional security outfit it ought to be.
Security organizations, more so a secret service such as the DSS, are supposed to be professional and dispassionate information seekers and analysts that act to provide security for the people and facilitate the prosecution of crimes. Partisan propaganda is one path they should never follow. Neither should they be seen to be dishing out flimsy propaganda and presenting it as information. We find it astonishing that the spokesperson of the DSS should be doing the rounds of talk shows and actively seeking camera opportunities to cast aspersions on the opposition. How come she does not even appear to be aware of neutrality and discretion in the conduct of their affairs?
Ms. Ogar has recently upped the ante of her unguarded utterances by her partisan comments following the recent Osun elections. It would be recalled that she rushed to the media immediately after the election result was announced claiming that some opposition APC politicians had offered the Service’s personnel 14 million naira bribe. Bribery is a criminal offence and should be investigated and prosecuted and not turned into a topic for talk show chat by the DSS. It was not long after her bribery claims that she then raised the stakes with the graver allegation linking the opposition APC with terrorism.
Earlier on, Ms. Ogar had disparaged the #BringBackOurGirls movement and referred to it as a franchise, and suggesting that the movement is affiliated to terrorists. This was not only uncharitable but completely an irresponsible charge against a movement making simple demands that the government and its security agencies should do their work, search for and rescue the girls. The problem with Ms. Ogar is that she makes these serious allegations without citing any evidence and without subsequent follow-up, clearly demonstrating that they are political statements.
This dangerous route the DSS spokesperson is dragging the Service into should be urgently remedied. Ms. Ogar is too overly partisan and careless in her mode of communication to speak for such an important and sensitive national institution as the DSS. The leadership of the DSS should come out immediately to disown the scandalous public comments made by Ms. Ogar and ultimately give her the red sign as she is clearly unfit for purpose in terms of speaking for the DSS. The least that we expect is that she should be removed as the spokesperson of the DSS and replaced with a non-partisan, more professional and discrete person.
The failure of the DSS high command to act on the numerous careless and partisan statements of its spokesperson would send a terrible signal to all Nigerians. Lack of action on the part of the Service’s leadership would mean that her scandalous and unacceptable behavior actually represents the position of the leadership of the DSS.
If this is the case and Ms. Ogar is speaking the mind of her bosses then there are ominous signs on the horizon for the future of Nigerian democracy. If a security organization that should be preoccupied with safeguarding all Nigerians and ensuring peace and stability of the country would resort to smear campaigns, propaganda and blackmail, Nigerians are in for big trouble.
PREMIUM TIMES demands that the DSS comes out loud and clear on this as a way of clearing itself from charges of being politicized and partisan. It must reassure Nigerians that as a major government agency mandated to provide security to all Nigerians, it is not the hunting dog of the ruling party.