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Nigeria: DSS Now Says It Has No Case Against INEC Chairman

A confident Yakubu stormed the NYSC HQ to mobilise corp members for elections.

Nigeria’s Department of State Services (DSS) on Friday declared that it has no case against the Chairman of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Mahmood Yakubu.
This is apparently in reaction to a judgement of a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court, which dismissed allegations of false asset declaration against Yakubu last Wednesday and also barred the DSS, the police, and Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) from investigating him over his asset declaration.
On the same day, a confident INEC Chairman stormed the headquarters of the National Youths Service Corps in Abuja to mobilise corps and assure them that the commission will continue to place a premium on the security of NYSC members on election duties.

In a statement signed by the spokesperson of DSS, Peter Afunanya, it refuted the assumptions that the service is in court with Yakubu, over alleged non-declaration of assets.
One Somadina Uzoamaka had filed a suit, marked FCT/HC/GAR/CV/47/2022, against the attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and Yakubu, seeking, among other things, an order of mandatory injunction directing and compelling the INEC chairman to step down, pending the investigation and consideration of the allegations against him by law enforcement agencies.
Afunanya clarified that the service never went to court against the INEC chairman.
The DSS spokesperson also denied insinuations that the security agency is involved in the matter.

He said: “This statement, however, becomes important to guide public understanding and perception, especially that the said report is misleading.
“It falsely left an impression that the service went to court against the INEC chairman.
“Nonetheless, the service is aware of the antics of some mischievous elements, who are desirous of fomenting crisis in the country, including creating unnecessary controversies around the forthcoming general elections.
“One of their strategies is to subvert the efforts of the service in ensuring peaceful coexistence and harmony.
“Another is a determination to overheat the polity and subtly exploit the judiciary to distract or even undermine not only the Service but also other security and law enforcement agencies from undertaking their constitutional roles.”
The DSS also warned the individuals and groups it accused to desist from their devious plans and advised all critical stakeholders to be vigilant and resist attempts to use them to thwart the law.
“While assuring Nigerians and the international community of the service’s commitment to the maintenance of law and order, including an accomplishment of a free and fair 2023 election as already pledged by Mr. President and commander-in-chief, the service urges all and sundry to join in the pursuit of national stability and unity,” adds the DSS in the statement.

Yakubu Assures NYSC Members of Safety

Meanwhile, with less than 54 days to the presidential election, the INEC Chairman on Friday assured that the commission will continue to place a premium on the security of NYSC members on election duty.
Yakubu said this in Abuja when he led the management staff of the commission on a courtesy visit to the Acting Director-General of the NYSC, Mrs Christy Uba.
He described the role of NYSC members as the most critical in the election process.
According to the chairman, the NYSC members operate at the most important level of election, which is the polling unit, the only level where citizens actually vote.
Yakubu said: “So, for that reason, we will also extend insurance cover in case of injury or other emergencies to all corps members involved in election duty.
“Working with the security agencies, we will also extend protection and security to the youth corps members’ lodges when they are deployed to the field on election days.
“This is because we have had some unhappy experiences before, when some hoodlums raided the corps members’ lodges in some places, while they were on election duty.
“So, we will continue to take whatever step that is necessary to protect and guarantee the security and welfare of the corps members.’’
The chairman said the commission would continually operate within the framework of the existing Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the commission and the NYSC.

He also assured that there would be training and retraining of the ad hoc staff, the majority of who were youth corps members in the handling of election technology.
Responding, Uba expressed the NYSC’s continued readiness to partner with the commission, adding that a lot had been achieved over time.
According to her, regarding the forthcoming election, the NYSC members are eager, as the youths are very interested in it, and will make sure that they work hard to make things right.
 “On preparation for the 2023 general elections, we have directed state coordinators to encourage corps members to register on the INEC portal, and I believe they have done that.
“NYSC Welfare and Service Department is expected to visit states to assure corps members and staff of the commitment of INEC and NYSC, to their safety while on election duties.
“This is to further encourage them, given the situation we have found ourselves in. They need to be assured that their security is being taken care of.’’
Uba said state coordinators had been directed to combine names and phone numbers of key security personnel in the states and local government areas for dissemination to corps members who wish to participate in the exercise.
She said that all state coordinators had also been directed to liaise with all Directorate of State Services (DSS) and other security agencies to identify crisis-prone areas in the state.
According to her, such volatile areas will be forwarded to the NYSC headquarters for monitoring.
Uba said in view of the number of corps members that would be required by INEC, the scheme had concluded plans to hold the 2023 Batch A Stream One course in January.
This, she said, would add to the number of corps members, who would be available to participate in the process.
“We need to work in our present reality, there is the need to review the allowances paid to the corps members.
“The chairman should please look at the conditions and ensure some level of improvement as contained in the MoU,” Uba said.

Bennett Oghifo in Lagos, Chuks Okocha and Kingsley Nwezeh in Abuja