The Peoples Democratic Party Governors Forum have raised concern over alleged unnecessary interference in electoral matters by the Department of State Services (DSS) especially in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia States.
According to the Chairman of the forum and Governor of Ondo State, Olusegun Mimiko, the forum condemns the alleged interference saying it is perceived as being used by the ruling party to stifle opposition.
The governors also asked why the DSS has not beamed its searchlight on states under the control of the ruling All Progressive Congress (APC) where alleged cases of bribery have been reported.
Mimiko said the PDP governors were worried with the activities of the men of the Department of State Security, which he said were aimed at stifling the opposition.
He described the alleged meddlesomeness of the security agency in electoral maters, which he said were capable of affecting the fortunes of the PDP at election petition tribunals, as worrisome and unacceptable.
Reading from the communiqué released after the meeting, Mimiko said, “The forum condemns in very strong terms the alleged worrisome meddlesomeness of the Department of State Services in Election Tribunal matters especially in Akwa Ibom, Rivers and Abia States.
“It is against the spirit, ethos, values and fundamental tenets of democratic norms and tradition; more so with the existence of the Electoral Act and the Constitution.
“The forum is worried, alarmed and shocked by this development. A situation where officials of Independent National Electoral Commission in these three States, (all PDP States) are daily being arrested, detained and questioned on election-related offences, even when the cases are on-going at the tribunals, spells doom and poses imminent danger to our fledgling democracy.”
He said that the alleged interference was an attempt to stifle the opposition, adding that this action was most unacceptable.
“We insist that the trend be reversed. No democracy survives without a viable opposition in any part of the world,” he added.
Mimiko said INEC was supposed to be an independent commission and that its officials ought to be shielded from partisanship, especially at a time when the dust raised by the alleged APC membership of the DG of the DSS, Mr Lawal Musa Daura, has yet to be settled. He alleged that there were clear cases of under-aged voters in some states and expressed his worry that the DSS did not investigate a single person or make any arrest in those states.
The governor also alleged that “even in a clear case where money paid was traced to the bank account of a State Resident Electoral Commissioner, the DSS is yet to order investigation into the matter.”
He advised the DSS to pre-occupy itself with the task of ensuring internal security and not involve itself in electoral matters.
At the enlarged meeting of the Nigeria Governors Forum later in the evening which ended in the early hours of Thursday, the governors agreed to meet with the United Nations Secretary General Ban K-Moon.
The meeting, according to the Chairman of the Forum, who is also the Governor of Zamfara State, Alhaji Abdul’aziz Yari, would discuss among others, the Sustainable Development Goals, the successor programme to the Millennium Development Goals and the envisaged role of State Governors, as critical stakeholders in its implementation.