Alleged interference: DSS DG to appear before Senate Tomorrow

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The Senate has commenced investigation into allegations of undue interference by the Department of State Services (DSS) in the Rivers State Election Petition pending before the Election Petition Tribunal.

To this end, the Upper Chamber ‎has summoned the Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura, over the allegation.

He is to appear before the Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions whose investigation commences on Thursday (today).

The investigation is sequel to a‎ petition sent to the upper legislative chamber by the Rivers State House of Assembly and referred to the Committee last week.

Signed by the 31 members of the state House of Assembly, the petition alleged among others that the DSS had arrested some officials of the Independent National Election Commission (INEC) and members of the Election Petition Tribunal and subjected them to serious intimidation, harassment and coercion to compromise the judicial independence of the tribunal and pervert the cause of justice.

At the commencement of sitting by the Senate Committee on the petition on Wednesday in Abuja, Chairman of the Committee, Samuel Anyanwu, (PDP, Imo East) warned all parties involved in the matter against unnecessary delay and stated that ‎the Senate would want prompt response to invitations and questions raised during the investigation.

The Committee declared that it would pay serious attention to allegation of abuse of office implied in the petition against the DSS even ‎as it called on the petitioners to provide specific details on the petition to assist the committee.

He said: “The issue of independence of the judiciary is a very serious pillar in the dispensation of justice. That is why the Committee takes the allegation of intimidation of tribunal members ‎very seriously because if the judiciary is intimidated, then the independence is compromised. So we want all details about this allegation supplied to the Committee without delay”.

Defending the petition, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, who led other members of the House to the committee, disclosed that INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers state, Gesila Khan and other senior officials of the commission had equally been arrested and detained by the DSS in Abuja.

“We make bold to say that they lack the power or the authority to invite ‎any judicial officer serving in the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal for questioning concerning their handling of election petitions pending before them based on some purported petitions from interested parties.

“While we commend the stance and efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari ‎to instill discipline, strengthen institutions of State and deepen democratic values where all Nigerians will have equal opportunities, we all appalled by their present clandestine and surreptitious moves aimed at derailing an efficient, transparent and unbiased justice delivery system and thereby bringing the judiciary into disrepute, public ridicule and odiom.

“In Barking on this condemnable mission, the DSS purports to be acting on some pre-arranged petitions from persons who are directly interested in the outcome of the various election Petitions from Rivers State,” he said.

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