Information is power and crucial in any organization as it is the only medium of exchange. The Department of State Services (DSS) like other parastatals of Government has a functioning unit with which it sends and receive information to and from Nigerians, an especially important task for an agency already shrouded in mystery.
However, in recent times especially since the appointment of its new Director General Mallam Lawal Musa Daura, the DSS spokesperson office has been dormant. What made the agency decide to take such drastic actions is unknown to Nigerians we really cannot guess, but what we do know is this: immediately the new DG was appointed, some staffs of the agency were compulsorily retired. One of the fresh retirees was Ms Marilyn Ogar the erstwhile spokesperson of the agency, since her retirement, the agency has not appointed a replacement, nor appoint an individual in acting capacity.
What the DSS did was to literally shut down the unit and the flow of information from the agency trickled into occasional updates and ceased altogether. All promises by the DG as it relates to appointment of new spokesperson has not been fulfilled. This has however made it difficult for victims of human right abuse by the agency through arbitrary arrest and detention to plead their case or at least understand the circumstances around their arrests and detention. Their families have had no medium of reaching their loved ones.
The agency’s recent actions fall in line with the deliberate attempts of this administration under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari to stifle press freedom by limiting the circulation of information in the country. Despite the fact that Nigerians are fighting against such practice, this government is limiting the freedom of information in the country and the agency has simply acting on this directive, albeit with far more vim than we’d expect.
The failure of the DSS to appoint a spokesperson should attract condemnation especially from civil society organizations and human right bodies, the agency is operating as a secret society by closing its channel of communication. It should be open forthwith.