…As Foreign Affairs Minister cautions against poke nosing into Nigeria’s affairs***
Against the backdrop of an allegation by a political group on the issue of bugging, the Department of State Services (DSS) on Wednesday denied tapping the telephone lines of Nigerians.
The Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Mr Peter Afunanya also in Abuja stated that the organisation was committed to its professional ideals and would therefore, not engage in unethical conduct.
He said the DSS had been criticised by unpatriotic citizens who fed the public with fake news and hate speeches against it.
Mr Peter Afunanya frowned on the fact that the social media had been awash with wrong information regarding the operations of the DSS and which had led to misunderstanding and misrepresentation.
“It is obvious that some merchants of violence are determined to use their platforms to misinform the public for their selfish and political ends,” he said, warning those he described as mischief makers against misleading the public, because the law would certainly catch up with them.
“The DSS is a responsible organisation and thus professionally adheres to the ideals of intelligence and security governance expected of it in a democracy,” he said, urging the public to disregard the claims by the political group.
The spokesman who advised that the DSS should be left out of politics to maintain its usual transparency and neutrality in the discharge of its mandate; subsequently enjoined fake news carriers and social media manipulators to always put Nigeria first.
In the meantime, the Minister of Foreign Affairs Geoffrey Onyeama has cautioned the international community against disrespecting the sovereignty of Nigeria and allow her solve internal challenges without interference.
Onyeama indicated this while addressing a cross section of the Heads of Diplomatic Missions and international election monitoring groups in Nigeria on the conduct of the 2019 General Elections.
The gathering, organised by the ministry in conjunction with the Independent Electoral Commission (INEC), aims at engaging with friends and partners of Nigeria on the conduct of the re-scheduled elections; following INEC’s Chairman, Prof. Mahmood Yakubu Saturday announced highlighting the postponement of the elections few hours before its commencement.
The Presidential and National Assembly as well as the Governorship and State Houses of Assembly elections were initially slated for February 16 and March 2.
The international community, however called for calm and urged the electoral umpire to put everything in place so that the election could hold on the re-scheduled date while political parties and politicians had continued to react differently to the postponement.
Onyeama stressed that while Nigeria welcomed partnership and support from the international community, it would however, as a sovereign country, would not allow herself to be dictated to since it would not interfere in the internal affairs of other countries.
“We welcome very much your engagement, we appreciate your support. We acknowledge how important your engagement for us in 2015 helped us to deliver probably one of the most free and credible elections we have had in this country for a very long time.
“However, we have cause to be concerned with the way the engagement has been communicated, because at the end of the day, we are a sovereign country.
“The line should not be crossed from exalting us and wanting this to succeed and really be a democratic process to dictating to us and getting to the nitty-gritty of how we run the country.
“We have heard all kinds of conspiracy theories, that is why we deem it necessary to hold this kind of interaction with you. I had cause to meet with some of you to discuss the general narrative.
“As member of the diplomatic community and international election observers, we welcome very much, your engagement.
Onyeama stressed the need for the international community remain impartial and not give the impression that it had a preferred candidate in the election.
He expressed the disappointment of President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government on the inability of INEC to deliver on elections, after being given all the resources requested and three and half years of preparation.
He said that no excuses would be tolerated from INEC not to conduct the Saturday election.
“Mr. President and indeed all Nigerians will not accept any excuses for elections not to be held this Saturday. Nothing less will be acceptable to government, and I am sure, to Nigerians.
“We will not accept any excuses or any other reason, the election must be held on Saturday,” he said.
He, therefore, called on INEC to ensure that the rescheduled election unfailingly holds on Feb. 23.
INEC Chairman, Prof. Yakubu, said that the commission had put in place everything possible to ensure the elections hold on Saturday
Yakubu, who was represented by an INEC National Commissioner, Dr Mustapha Lecky, said that nothing would stop the election from being conducted on Feb 23.
The U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Stuart Symington, commended the Federal Government and INEC for the process and efforts to ensure free, fair and credible polls in Nigeria.