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Human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has described the 48-hour ultimatum given by the Department of State Services to the Nigerian National Petroleum Company Limited to end the lingering fuel scarcity in the country, as an empty threat.
Falana said this on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily programme on Friday.
The PUNCH had reported on Thursday night that the DSS through its spokesperson, Peter Afunanya, said they held a closed door meeting with NNPCL and other stakeholders in the downstream sector who have agreed to end the scarcity.
Afunanya also said all DSS commands had been placed on red alert and would commence operations to bring defaulters to book, adding that the service summoned the meeting and subsequently issued the ultimatum based on its mandate of detecting and preventing threats against the internal security of the country.
However, Falana in his interview said the DSS wouldn’t do anything to anybody cause they “know the people behind the scarcity.”
He added that similar threats have been made by the Federal Government in the past without anyone being arrested or prosecuted.
“(As) you know, every year, at the end of the year – once it is Christmas – there must be artificial supply of fuel,” he said. “The ultimatum will not work because there is no sanction for impunity in Nigeria.
“The State Security Service does not operate under the law in Nigeria. It does its own thing. There is nobody to call the agency to order. They will know that it’s just an empty threat because nobody is going to be arrested and prosecuted to teach a lesson.
“The other day, toxic fuel was brought to Nigeria. The government promised, ‘We’re going to deal with them, it will never happen again.’ Was anybody arrested? Was anybody prosecuted? It’s the same thing because they know the people behind it. It’s like oil theft. They know them.”
Falana, who said the NNPC had the responsibility of supplying petroleum products to all parts of Nigeria, added that if the organisation failed to carry out its duty, the Federal Government was obliged to call the officials to order and possibly relieve them of their responsibilities.
He however, acknowledged the security concerns of the secret service, attributing the threat to economic sabotage saying the continued presence of long queues at filling stations could lead to “serious security problems.”
“So, this agency is a secret agency required to submit reports: ‘We fear that there will be a threat to the security in Nigeria.’ And the president will then take appropriate action. We must run this country in line with the provisions of the law.
“That (enactment establishing the DSS) is a decree made by the military. But now, we have the constitution. Section 215 has imposed a duty on the police to maintain the internal security of the country.
“But what the SSS – not DSS; it is not a department of state security. It is not a department of the Presidency. It’s the State Security Service for all of us. That body is required to submit reports to the government: ‘This problem may lead to insecurity. What can we do very quickly?’ The internal security of our country is the role of the police,” he said.