Over 24 hours after its officials raided an office of the All Progressives Congress, APC, in Lagos, the Department of State Services, DSS, has given reasons for its action.
In a statement on Sunday by its spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, the DSS, popularly called SSS, said it received a petition alleging “unwholesome activities” in the building located at No.10, Bola Ajbola Street, Allen Avenue, Ikeja.
“The petition alleged that those behind the activities were cloning INEC Permanent Voters Card with the intention of hacking into INEC data base, corrupting it and replacing them with their own data.
“Based on this information, the service placed the building under surveillance and having been convinced that some unwholesome activities were going on in the building, it undertook a raid of the premises.
“In the process, some persons were arrested, while a server, three hard drives and 31 Ghana must go bags of hard copy documents were recovered and taken away for further investigation,” Ms. Ogar said.
The spokesperson, who has in the past made unsubstantiated allegations against the APC, said the building had no sign post indicating it was a private or government office.
The DSS statement came almost 24 hours after the APC announced the invasion of its office and called for a thorough investigation of the perpetrators.
In the statement by its spokesperson, Lai Mohammed, the APC said the building was being used as a data centre for its members.
“In what was a gestapo-like operation, the APC membership data centre located at Number 10, Bola Ajibola street, off Allen Avenue in Ikeja, came under siege between the hours of 5:30 am and 7:30 am on Saturday,” Mr. Mohammed said.
“An operation of terror and brigandage was unleashed on a legitimate operation of a leading national party. They came without a search warrant for the premises. Over 50 security operatives drafted from Abuja operations blocked the two major street entrances to the APC data entry centre, pulled down the gates and spent over 2 hours ransacking and vandalizing the centre.
“More than a dozen computers were destroyed. The server was also vandalized along with other equipments in the building. Just like the Watergate scandal in the USA, the state-sponsored security operatives, apparently acting at the behest of the ruling PDP government, turned the office upside down, and pulled out and vandalized everything in sight.
“If the PDP-led government and the security agents had done due diligence and acted professionally, they would have known that the APC data centre is a legitimate operation and the staff are Nigerian youths who were left jobless by the Jonathan government. Apart from the Lagos centre, the operation is decentralized and similar centres are functional in about six different locations around the country.
“They chose to believe the lie that it was a warehouse belonging to one of the national leaders of the party where dangerous weapons were being kept, when in fact it is a centre for entering the data provided by the millions of Nigerians who registered as members of the party during its membership registration exercise.”
The opposition party called for an “independent inquiry to fish out those who ordered the needless and unprovoked attack”.
“Now that they have overreached themselves by attacking the offices of the main opposition party and destroying part of its membership database, can the PDP-led government still claim to be operating under the rule of law? Can the government sincerely tell the world it is now ready for free and fair elections in 2015? This is one impunity too many, and we will not allow it to be swept under the carpet,” it said.