The State Security Service (SSS) on Thursday uncovered a “stockpiles of arms and ammunition” from the Akwa Ibom State Government House in Uyo, the state capital, during a surprise raid, top security sources have told PREMIUM TIMES.
The operation, which was jointly carried out by operatives from the SSS headquarters in Abuja and a detachment from the Akwa Ibom State Command of the Service, were said to have stormed the Hilltop Mansion based on security reports that suggested arms and ammunition were stored in a room there.
After ransacking the entire residence of the governor, which is yet to be occupied by the serving Governor, Udom Emmanuel, the operatives moved to guest houses and the presidential lodge, said to be currently in use by ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio.
It was, however, in one of the guest houses within the expansive complex, the source said, that the stockpile of arms and ammunition were found locked up in a large room.
Apart from the arms stockpile, the source also said the operatives uncovered a guest room filled with United States dollar notes.
“It is true that our operatives carried out an operation in Akwa Ibom State Government House in Uyo yesterday,” the source said.
“During the operation which lasted for over an hour, our operatives found stockpile of arms and ammunition locked up in one of the guest houses within the Government House complex.
“We also found a room which has stacks of United States dollars, but since we had no order to take them away, our operatives left the room untouched.”
One of our sources said the operatives initially wanted to evacuate the dollar notes but received instructions from their superiors in Abuja to let the notes be.
However, a staff of the Government House, who pleaded not to be named for security reasons, told PREMIUM TIMES that in the course of the operation, a lot of government property were damaged by the SSS operatives.
He claimed the operatives did not ransack the official residence of the governor but confirmed they broke into all the guest houses within the Government House complex.
The source also confirmed that Governor Emmanuel was yet to move into his official residence.
The SSS could not be immediately reached to officially comment on the operation. The agency does not have a known spokesperson that could be reached for comments.
And it’s Director General, Lawal Daura, did not answer or return multiple calls to his telephone.
However, apparently jolted by the development, the raid has attracted harsh reactions from the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
An official of the SSS said PDP’s loud reaction “is to divert attention and downplay the findings of the Service”.
The Acting Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, while hosting Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, in his office Friday, raised the alarm and described the invasion as a civilian coup d’état.
Mr. Secondus said the action is part of the strategy of the ruling All Progressives Congress, and the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to forcefully take some states won by the opposition PDP.
”Let me alert this nation that there was a civilian coup d’état in Akwa Ibom State where the State Security Service, headed by Lawal Daura, invaded the Government House in Akwa Ibom, ransacked the entire Government House, looking for the governor (Udom Emmanuel), to kidnap,” Mr. Secondus said.
“We want to alert this nation that this is part of the strategy of APC and its Federal Government to forcefully take Akwa Ibom, Rivers, Abia and Taraba States by force because they are not satisfied with the control of the Federal Government.
“They still want to take over by force all the states controlled by PDP. “This nation belongs to all, to both PDP and APC, a situation where, consistently, the SSS has assaulted states controlled by PDP, the international community should be aware of what is going on. Is this democracy? Is this how PDP ruled in 16 years?
“We want to advise and point out to the President that we will not tolerate this anti-democratic arrangement by APC and SSS because it will be a reincarnation of Rafindadi days when he was in charge of SSS.
“This is exactly the format. Daura is a reincarnation of Rafindadi and Nigerians are not ready for what happened 30 years ago. This is a clear warning that they should desist from taking laws into their hands.”
On his part, the Ekiti State Governor, Ayo Fayose, called for the immediate sack of the Director General of the SSS, Lawal Daura, whom he accused for the invasion.
Mr. Fayose said armed men from the Special Squad of the SSS invaded the Presidential Wing of the Government House, Uyo, in a commando style, ransacked it, intimidated and harassed the occupants, claiming that they were searching for bomb and documents.
While wondering when Akwa Ibom State Government House turned into a bomb-making factory, Mr. Fayose said he was shocked that men of the SSS were overzealously looking for bomb in Akwa Ibom instead of the Boko Haram-ravaged North East Nigeria.
“From the barbaric act of the SSS yesterday and other actions of Security Service under Alhaji Lawal Daura in the last few weeks, one can conclude that Daura is taking Nigeria back to the 1984 era of General Mohammadu Buhari and this is unfortunate.
“No doubt, the Director General (DG) SSS, Lawal Daura is acting out a sinister script of taking over Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) controlled States in the South-South and South East by whatever means,” Mr. Fayose said.
“To say the least, the invasion of the Akwa Ibom State Government House on Thursday ordered by Daura, is a rape of democracy and invitation to chaos and anarchy. It is authoritarian, dictatorial and I condemn it strongly,”
“It is unfortunate that this is happening under President Buhari’s watch, and painful that Alhaji Lawal Daura is drawing Nigeria back to the Military era.
Mr. Fayose recalled the arrest of the Independent National Electoral Commission, INEC; Resident Electoral Commissioner, REC, in Akwa Ibom, Austin Okojie, by men of the SSS in July, as a continued case of undemocratic tendencies by the security agency under its new leadership.
“I wonder why “the SSS under Alhaji Lawal Daura that has turned Akwa Ibom State and other states into centres of its draconian operations has not deemed it necessary to invite for questioning, the Yobe State INEC REC, Mr. Abu Zarma, in whose bank account N15 million alleged to be a bribe was found.”
He said the recent action by the SSS and the earlier arrest of the state REC were part of a sinister plot by the APC, to circumvent the will of the people of the South-South and South-East states controlled by the PDP.
Saying the plot would fail ultimately, Mr. Fayose argued that if a Government House occupied by a governor, who enjoys the same immunity like the President, as provided in the 1999 Constitution, could be invaded by a special squad of the SSS, it meant the SSS DG was moving the country towards dictatorship.
He said having witnessed the era of dictatorship and barbarism where Nigerians were treated with contempt, the governor said under the present democracy the people would never accommodate the 1984 era of draconian rule.
Mr. Fayose urged Mr. Buhari to call the DG SSS to order, pointing out that he should be made to know that his extremely controversial activities since he assumed office were of growing concern to Nigerians.
“His actions as the DG SSS are regrettable, unfortunate, condemnable and unacceptable because he has come to symbolise dictatorship, which democracy abhors,” Mr. Fayose continued.
“Alhaji Lawal Daura should know that he is holding the office of DG SSS that he presently occupies in trust for all Nigerians and such office is not one that can be turned into instrument of political witch-hunt.
“If Alhaji Daura continues with his use of the SSS to harass, intimidate and assault the constitution of Nigeria, President Buhari may have to show to Nigerians that he is not a party to the use of the security agency to witch-hunt his political opponents by sacking the DG SSS,” the governor said.