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Nigerian Government Defends Raids on Former NSA Chief’s Homes

FILE - Mohammed Sambo Dasuki.

The government of Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has been explaining why it’s security forces raided the homes of Mohammed Sambo Dasuki, former President Goodluck Johnathan’s national security adviser.

In a statement, the Department of State Security Service (DSS) said it raided Dasuki’s homes because of “credible intelligence” linking him to alleged plans to com­mit a treasonable felony against the Nigerian state.

The security service said it recovered several incriminating items, including seven high caliber rifles, several magazines, and an armored car.

Dasuki was among several top military people who were sacked last week by President Buhari.

President Buhari is currently in the United States, where he is expected to meet with President Barack Obama Monday.

Shehu Garba, senior special assistant to President Buhari on media and publicity, said the security agencies acted proactively.

“As we learned from the leadership of the secret service, they did this proactively in order to avoid crime or any breach of the law from happening. And amazingly they found things that they had not expected would be there – substantial qualities of weapons and an armored vehicle,” he said.

Garba said the security agency was concerned as to why Dasuki would be harboring such large quantity of weapons and an armored vehicle.

Olisa Metuh, PDP national publicity secretary, said the Buhari government has embarked on a witch-hunt of officials of former president Jonathan’s government.

Metuh said Nigerians are concerned their country is slowly moving toward a dictatorship.

“Some aides and some overzealous security officers have taken it upon themselves to inflict on the citizens of Nigeria a regime of fear when there is no more respect for the liberty and freedom of Nigerians. Right now the security officials can invade anybody’s home and come up [with] trumped up charges to investigate of someone who 24 hours earlier was actually working for the government,” Metuh said.

Metuh said PDP supporters are worried they are being treated as “prisoners of war”.

“We want the international community to come to our aid and to note that this is exactly how Zimbabwe descended into what they have right now,” he said.

Metuh dismissed the State Security Service claims that Dasuki was possession of an armored car. He said there’s nothing unusual of that in Nigeria.

“There are so many homes when go to search in Nigeria you’ll see a lot of armored cars. The security situation in Nigeria is that people actually buy armored cars for their personal protection. Are you going to overthrow a government with two armored cars?” Metuh said.

Metuh said the PDP as Nigeria’s main opposition party has a zero tolerance policy on corruption. He said that if the Buhari government wants to fight corruption it must follow due process, and that people are presumed innocent until found guilty under Nigerian law.

Garba said while the PDP is entitled to its opinion, it must make sure its members abide by all laws governing the licensing of weapons.

“Under the laws of Nigeria, there’s a requirement for licensing. You don’t keep [an] Uzi rifle loaded with 22 magazines, and all those vehicles, and you are asked to produce evidence of ownership. Where did you buy them? Assuming those vehicles belong to the government, will it be right to divert them to your home?”

Garba said given the raid took four days after Dasuki was sacked meant he had no plans to return them to the government or obtain the necessary licenses.

He said given Nigeria’s history of military coups, the government cannot allow one individual to keep that many weapons without licenses.

Garba said Nigeria is a country of laws, and Dasuki will have his day in court to prove his innocence before a judge.

He said the Buhari government is not paranoid but simply being proactive.

“Nobody is paranoid about anything. Now what this tells you is that the security services are beginning to change in line with the philosophy of the new administration. They are being proactive. They didn’t have to wait until somebody mount an activity that is counter to law, order or to the constitution of the country,” Garba said.

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Butty interview with Olisa Metuh
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