Power Tussle: SSS urges media to report security issues with caution

SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)
SSS Officials (Photo Credit: Guardian Nigeria)

The State Security Service on Tuesday warned Nigerian journalists to desist from reporting untoward developments in its internal activities, saying it expects a working partnership with the media instead.

In a Tuesday evening statement, new SSS spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, said the service was deeply uncomfortable with the way it is being portrayed in the media lately.

Without specifically stating which reports the SSS found disconcerting, Mr Afunanya said the secret police’s internal activities should be a no-go area for the press, even though he added that the agency could be held accountable in line with other institutions of a democratic entity.

The statement comes two days after PREMIUM TIMES reported a raging power tussle between President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and the new Director-General, Matthew Seiyefa, over issues ranging from administrative and personnel changes to key policy decisions.

Mr Kyari directed Mr Seiyefa, who assumed office a month ago, to start reporting directly to him, a directive the spy chief found difficult to comply with.

Mr Seiyefa said he would only report to the National Security Adviser Babagana Monguno as legally structured, rather than to a domestic aide of the president.

Mr Kyari also directed immediate return of SSS officers who had been transferred or asked to proceed on terminal leave by Mr Seiyefa to their previous postings.

Mr Seiyefa initially declined Mr Kyari’s directive, but later caved on the transferred officers after receiving multiple phone calls from the presidency, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

The top spy chief also declined to comply with the order in writing, sources said.

Read the full statement from the SSS as distributed by PRNigeria, a public relations contractor for several security agencies, below:

DSS Urges Media to report Security issues with caution to avoid a breach of peace-

The attention of the DSS has been drawn to several speculations making the rounds in the media on some internal affairs of the Service. These speculations, to say the least, are unhealthy for the Service and indeed, Nigeria.

The DSS has undoubtedly remained a committed Service with focus on the stability and security of the nation.

Over the years, the Service has been known to be both a strategic stabilizer and a unifying factor in the Nigerian project. It therefore deserves and desires to be focused and supported by all stakeholders to play the expected role in a democracy.

Only a professionally driven DSS can support and consolidate Nigeria’s democracy. Though Intelligence Services world over operate covertly, it is also held accountable in a democratic practice. To accomplish this, they design strategic alliances with partners and stakeholders. The media is one of such partners.

Held in utmost respect, the media is called upon to report issues of national security with caution to avoid a breach of peace. No deliberate effort should be made by self serving interests to bring the Service to ridicule. No country or its media can afford to undermine their own security forces because of the dire consequences that portends.

The Service, as an institution of Government will continue to carry out legitimate orders; support democratic institutions; respect the rule of law and protect the citizens in line with global practices and Standard Operations Procedures (SOPs) in Intelligence gathering and law enforcement. Dark forces should not bring the Service into a collision with the Government it is meant to diligently serve.

The Service is undaunted and will pursue noble goals only meant to uphold integrity in security and intelligence governance.

This is a global trend for accountability. Its personnel across the Commands and Formations have been enjoined to be calm, loyal and united in the discharge of their duties as the Service has remained of the few Institutions in the country that has exhibited unquestionable oneness and commonality of purpose in advancing the interest of the Nation.

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