Wednesday, 25 June 2014

NSA orders probe into alleged mistreatment of Tambuwal by security agent

The National Security Adviser, Sambo Dasuki, has raised a panel to investigate Monday’s alleged harassment of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Aminu Tambuwal, by security operatives, who allegedly insisted on searching his car for bombs, top security officials have told PREMIUM TIMES. The incident occurred at the 17th Hotel Kaduna, the venue of an international conference on security and development challenges of pastoralists in West and Central Africa. The Speaker, who was one of the keynote speakers at the conference, arrived the Hotel at about 9:16 a.m.; but soldiers at the gate were alleged to have insisted his cars would only be allowed entry after it is certified free of bombs. An angry Mr. Tambuwal then stormed out of the car and walked the remaining distance to the event venue. Mr. Dasuki, whose office organised the event, has now ordered a probe of the incident, to determine what happened and why the security officials acted the way they did. “The issue has been blown out of proportion, creating the impression that the Speaker was targeted for raw treatment because of his perceived cold relationship with the President,” a top security official familiar with the matter said. “So the NSA has ordered an investigation. He wants an internal review of what happened. Our suspicion is that it was overzealous officers who misbehaved to the Speaker. But the NSA wants to get to the bottom of it all.” The officials did not disclose the membership of the investigative team and whether the outcome of the probe would be made public. When further pressed for comments, he said, “It’s an internal investigation and members were drawn mainly from the office of the NSA.” When contacted, the NSA, Mr. Dasuki, confirmed he has commissioned a probe. “I just want to know what really happened,” he said. Mr. Sambo declined further comments. PREMIUM TIMES learnt of the investigative panel just as two officials of the Department of State Security, alias SSS, were telling one of our reporters that there was never an attempt to search Mr. Tambuwal’s car for bombs. “Detectives from the Department of State Services were trying to verify whether or not it was the actual vehicle of the Speaker and he hurriedly disembarked and walked to the hall,” the official said. He requested not to be named because he was not authorized to speak on the matter. “The service chiefs parked their vehicles 300 metres away from the venue and walked to the venue. And the Speaker is aware of security protocols because anytime he came to Mambilla Barracks in Abuja for Friday prayers, his vehicles are usually verified. It is customary,” he added. Another officer with the SSS said, “The speaker came with just two cars and no siren blaring. The car in which he rode had tinted glasses and the soldiers wanted to be certain who was in the car. “There was no attempt at frisking the car for bombs. On his own, he came down from the car and walked into the venue and nobody, how much more the speaker, was harassed or embarrassed in any way. “There was no attempt by soldiers and other security agents to search the Speaker’s vehicle and all dignitaries and participants were accorded due respect.” He said the presence of security agents at the venue was for safety of participants, adding that top dignitaries, including Governors Mukhtar Ramalan Yero (Kaduna) and Mu’azu Babangida Aliyu (Niger) and the Deputy Governor of Plateau state as well as the NSA, service chiefs and traditional leaders had their vehicles searched. Mr. Tambuwal’s spokesperson, Imam Imam, however told PREMIUM TIMES his boss was disrespected by the security officials. He advised the military to have respect for the office of the Speaker. “As the number four citizen, the Honourable Speaker deserves the respect of all Nigerians. What happened was unfortunate,” he said. “We should have respect for the office and his official car is part of the symbol of that office.” Mr. Imam also said incidents like what happened to the Speaker could undermine the legislature as an institution.

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