Why SSS must give more details of jailbreak deaths

The Department of State Services (DSS),or State Security Service (SSS), urgently needs to come out with more plausible explanations as to why and how 21 members of the Boko Haram terror groupunder its detention facility located at itsheadquarters in Abuja were killed in the morning of Sunday, March 30, 2014. Although the DSS has through its spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, stated that the detainees were killed during an attempted jailbreak, there are several gaps that render her narrative hard to believe.

Ogar said a day after the incident in a live radio interview with Raypower 100.5FM, that the detainees were killed in an episode in which one of the inmates overpowered and seized a rifle with about 90 rounds of ammunition from an SSS operative who went to feed suspects. Though she stated that investigation into the incident “is still ongoing” in order to “determine who shot who and at what point and how many were shot by whom and for what reason,” she however opted not to respond to prodding questions on grounds of what she termed “security reasons.”

Admitted that the matter is a very sensitive one in the context of prevailing security challenges occasioned by the Boko Haram insurgency, the reality, however, is that the reluctance of the DSS to shed more light on the alleged jailbreak by responding to elementary but logical questions creates more room for suspicion that something sinister must have happened. This feeling becomes stronger against the background of available evidence from the incident such as the more than two hours of continuous gunfire inside the premises of the Yellow House, as DSS headquarters is also called.

It is curious that the DSS thinks up a story that a detainee who is supposed to be in handcuffs would be able to disarm a DSS operative. Assuming this was what happened, how plausible is it that the handcuffed detainee was able to hold the entire operatives on duty that morning in a gun duel that reportedly lasted for several hours and which compelled the deployment of troops from surrounding barracks?

Secondly, how could the incident have generated a huge casualty of 21 dead detainees when we were told that it was only a detainee that armed himself with the seized gun? Was it the armed detainee that turned the gun against his fellow detainees or were they killed by the operatives in the course of restraining them from escaping even though they were supposed to have been handcuffed and unarmed except one?

Was the armed detainee among the dead? What is the normal feeding time since the time the gun battle started was too early a time for a normal breakfast?

How many DSS operatives are ideally supposed to feed detainees, especially high profile ones associated with suicide terrorism? These and a range of other questions needed credible answer to reassure Nigerians that our intelligence services have not been compromised as is currently popularly suspected.

While we do not doubt the patriotism and dedication of majority of the rank and file of the DSS and other security agencies, it has increasingly become obvious that there are fifth columnists within these organisations who are under mining genuine efforts to overcome the security challenges, if the many inexplicable setbacks suffered by our security agenciesin the battle against the Boko Haram insurgency, is given objective appraisal.

The March 30    so-called jailbreak is one such setback. Surely, it is time the leadership of our intelligence agencies fished out the subversive elements within them as a first step to overcoming the scourge of terrorism.

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