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Nigeria’s Secret Police, DSS Tests The Water On Tenure Elongation For Buhari, Tells Journalists, CSOs 2023 Elections May Not Hold Over Insecurity

Nigeria’s secret police, the Department of State Services (DSS) says the general elections in 2023 may not hold due to the insecurity experienced in the country, SaharaReporters has gathered.
This was disclosed during a brainstorming session between officials of the agency and civil society organisations.

The meeting which was held on April 6, 2022, was also attended by a cross-section of human rights groups, non-governmental organisations, media leaders and rights activists in the country.
A source who was at the meeting told SaharaReporters that participants were told by the DSS that the 2023 elections may not hold due to insecurity.

The country’s electoral body, Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), had slated the Presidential and National Assembly elections for February 25, 2023, while governorship and state assembly elections will be held on March 11, 2023.
“We had a meeting at the DSS headquarters on April 6 where they asked participants to imagine a scenario where insecurity might lead to tenure elongation for Buhari,” a member of the civil society who attended the meeting told SaharaReporters.
“I thought they were joking when INEC had already picked dates for the election. But this morning, it was all over the newspapers that a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Robert Clarke is asking for tenure elongation for Buhari.
“What’s weird was that this particular angle of the well-attended event was not reported by media persons in attendance, even though it caused substantial confusion and surprise.
“No doubt, the entire brainstorm was a ruse to prepare them to sell the tenure elongation idea to the public.”
Indeed, elder statesman, Chief Robert Clarke (SAN), on Monday called for a tenure extension for President Muhammadu Buhari to enable him to tackle the nation’s problems before elections would be held.
The senior lawyer on an Arise Television programme argued that the few months left before the 2023 elections were not sufficient to put an end to the insecurity in the country, which would be required to conduct the general elections.
A communique of the meeting seen by SaharaReporters however failed to mention the debate about election postponement.
Also, a statement by the Public Relations Officer of the DSS, Peter Afunanya, said the session was organised to establish a better relationship with CSOs and to ensure the stability of Nigeria and make better progress.
Afunanya pointed out that since CSOs also set agenda like the media, they need to work in synergy with the security agencies in the land and to always give out the kind of information that would engender hope, peace and progress at all times.
The communique issued at the end of the event, which was described as a one-day brainstorming session with civil society organisations/non-governmental organisations, was themed, ‘Civil Society and National Security In Nigeria’.
The event, organised by the DSS and coordinated by its public relations officer, was held at the Abuja National Headquarters of the Service.
It was attended by the Director-General, Y.M Bichi, who was represented by Kabiru Sani (ADG), Director, Administration (DA).
The communique said the “programme was aimed at building a synergy between Security Agencies and CSOs/NGOs to enhance communication for national peace and security”.

“Papers were also delivered on key issues particularly, effects of fake news on national security, need for robust relationships among strategic groups and relevance of early warning to security planning and activities of CSOs as well as roles of stakeholders in achieving election success,” it also said.
It noted that the session identified such challenges to include “Non-existent information-sharing mechanism/platform between CSOs and Security agencies; Inadequate knowledge of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by some CSOs and in some instances, non-responsiveness to the Act by Security agencies; and Inadequate sensitization programmes on governance and electoral processes in the rural communities and volatile areas”.
Others include “Fake news, hate speech, misinformation, miscommunication and misrepresentation of information remain threats to national security; Irregular attendance by security agencies to functions organised by CSOs/NGOs; CSOs lack of knowledge about the existence of the Inter-Agency Consultative Committee on Election Security (ICCES) and its activities/roles; Unethical practices of some CSOs which derail national security; and Ignorance and overzealousness by some CSOs to engage on negative issues in order to incite citizens against Government.”
It was signed on behalf of other participants by Chizoba Nwankwoala, DSS, Chairperson, Communique Drafting Committee (CDC); Badaru A. Ismail, DSS, Member; Linda Oparandu, DSS, Member; Pharmacist Emeka Akwuobi; Coalition for Peace in Nigeria (COPIN), Member; and Salaudeen Hashim, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Member.


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