By Lawal Ogienagbon

IT IS IN the character of our security agents to overreach themselves. By so doing, they think they are serving the interest of their master. To them, the best way to be seen doing their job is by preempting the master; some kind of mind-reading to know what the master wants or does not want. You cannot blame them because their masters too appear to take delight in such boot-licking. Over time, our security agents have come to see this as the best way to discharge their duty.

When some one disagrees with the master, that person immediately becomestheir target. They will go after that person and do all within their powers to cut that person to size in order to win their master’s heart. Whenever they act over zealously, they quickly hide under what they call ‘’order from above’’. In most cases, they have no such orders to so act. But by dropping that line they know they will be covered.

Citing ‘’order from above’’ when there is no such order amounts to acting illegally to deprive a citizen of his right. Many citizens have been unjustifiably held by security men purportedly acting on the authority of the state when there is no such mandate. It is quite unfortunate that our security men who should be the custodians of law and order are the very ones who flout the laws. Under the military junta, Nigerians saw hell in the hands of these security men who always acted with impunity because they knew that whatever they did they would be covered.

Nobody was considered sacred that they could not touch under this omnibus ‘’order from above’’. Your home, your office, your business or anywhere for that matter can be overrun within a twinkling of an eye by these goons acting under, you guessed right, ‘’order from above’’. Many newspaper houses were shut under former heads of state Gen Ibrahim Babangida and the late Gen Sani Abacha under this whimsical order. As military head of state, Maj Gen Muhammadu Buhari, as he then was, also got two journalists jailed under the obnoxious Decree 4 for doing their job. Under this democracy, we have had a fair share of this impunity.

The police and the Department of State Service (DSS) are fond of singling out those with issues with the state for harassment. It is as if they are always waiting for friction between the government and an individual. Once they know of such problem, they tag the individual public enemy number one and go all out to get him. Since defection from one party to the other became a past time in the National Assembly, all eyes have been on our security agents to make a move for those seen to be giving the government tough time.

They find it easy to identify those people. Once you are no longer in the ruling government’s party or its good book, you become a target. We can see that from what has been happening to Senate President Bukola Saraki, Sokoto State Governor Aminu Tambuwal, Kwara State Governor Abdulfatah Ahmed and others in their camp. Though President Buhari has since said the defectors were free to go their own way, our security men do not seem to have heard him loud and clear. For all they care, the President could not have meant what he said. They simply did not believe that he was serious about his statement.

Since they have given the statement their own interpretation, it was just a matter of time before they moved against the government’s perceived enemies. They did that on Tuesday morning. Some armed DSS men, in hoods, stormed the National Assembly Complex and barred the lawmakers from gaining access to their offices. By their action, they also prevented the National Assembly leaders from holding a meeting to discuss crucial national issues. Interestingly, they claimed they were acting under ‘’order from above’’, implying that the government was aware of their action.

It turned out that they were lying. They had no such order to shut down the National Assembly. It was the sacked DSS Director-General Lawal Daura that was exercising powers that he did not have. It is high time the DSS, the police, and related security agencies weaned themselves of this military era mentality of storming public and private places to intimidate people for no just cause, citing a vague ‘’order from above’’. Our security men should not always be in a hurry to turn their guns on the very people who pay their salaries. No wonder our people do not see eye to eye with security men. The duty of our security men is to protect the nation and its citizens.

If the public hates the security agents with passion, they are the cause of it. There is no way any body can be friendly with the security agent who turns a gun on him. That is not possible. Daura and his men bit more than they can chew with Tuesday’s invasion of the National Assembly. They thought that it would be business as usual. But it turned out to be Daura’s last act and last lie in office. He lied to his men that he had an ‘’order from above’’ to shut down the National Assembly. The Presidency put a lie to his claim when it disowned him. He has since been sacked.

In a statement, the Presidency described the invasion as ‘’a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order’’, adding : ‘’all persons within the law enforcement apparatus who participated in this travesty will be identified and subjected to appropriate disciplinary action’’.

That is how it should be. Our security agents should not be allowed to trample upon the people and get away with it, all because they bear arms on behalf of the state. It is time they started to account for their action and inaction. This is how just and organised societies are built and Nigeria cannot be an exception.

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