Isa Yahaya Mohammed, a man who claimed to be an official of the Department of State Services (DSS) while testifying at the Enugu State Governorship Election Tribunal on Tuesday, is not a serving officer of the secret police ,according to SaharaReporters
Yahaya, who claimed while giving testimony at the tribunal, that he was a serving deputy director in charge of operations at the DSS, later contradicted himself in his written deposition where he wrote that he was Deputy Director (Strategy).
Yahaya said the failure of NYSC to maintain a proper record-keeping system was the cause of its inability to trace Mbah’s initial certificate.
Giving evidence, Yahaya, who also identified himself as DSS Deputy Director, Operations and Strategic Department, said the security agency commenced an investigation into the discharge certificate controversy following a petition to it by Mbah dated February 8, 2023.
According to him, there was an exchange of correspondence between Mbah and NYSC at every stage of their interaction.
But contrary to his statement, a source in the secret police told SaharaReporters that Yahaya retired as an Assistant Director of the DSS some years ago, suggesting that the secret service never at any time gave him the mandate to be in Enugu to give evidence on behalf of any of the contenders at the tribunal.
“Yahaya who testified at Enugu governorship tribunal is no longer with the DSS; he left the DSS some years ago. But some people are desperate to help Governor Mbah with his case and this involves some people at the top.
“So Yahaya who does dirty jobs for the DSS was recruited to testify in favour of Mbah,” the source said.
The DSS source revealed that contrary to the posturing of Yahaya at the tribunal, the DSS rarely responds to subpoenas, as its mandate does not include such investigations that would require it to be summoned to open court sessions.
The source said because of the nature of the mandate of the secret police, that there was no way the DSS would be involved in such an issue because, except otherwise stated, the duties of the service are secret and their findings are mostly classified.
“It is not possible for the DSS to be subpoenaed on such matters. Even when we are called to investigate issues such as certificate forgery by public officials, it is done discreetly and the findings are classified and shared only with relevant authorities.
“It is unheard of to find the service rendering before the courts or any member of the public, facts and materials from our investigations. It is not part of what we do here,” the source stated.
The source continued, “It will be unheard of for the DSS to put itself in a position where it is seen to be contradicting a federal government agency.
“You must know that the service must be aware of the position of the NYSC (National Youth Service Corps) on the matter. NYSC has made it clear that the man you are talking about (Peter Mbah) did not obtain his discharge certificate from them.
“How can the DSS, a federal government agency, be contradicting another important federal government agency? It cannot happen. Our job here is to protect the integrity of the Nigerian Government and its institutions and not to run them down.”
Another DSS source said there is no position like Deputy Director, Operations or Deputy Director, Strategy at the DSS headquarters.
He added that Yahaya could never have come from the DSS office.
“We do not have such positions as you mentioned in our office. I don’t know where that person came from, but it is certainly not from our office,” he said.
The source said, “In this document tendered by the so-called witness from the SSS or DSS, he described himself as the Deputy Director, Strategy. I wish to inform you that the position of deputy director does not exist in the service. What you hear is Assistant Director and then Director.”
When contacted for clarification regarding Yahaya’s case, the spokesman for the DSS, Dr Peter Afunanya, simply said, “We are investigating.”
Meanwhile, a legal practitioner, Joseph Maduabuchi Iloh also said the DSS is not, by its mandate, supposed to involve itself in investigations such as forgeries.
Iloh, who spoke about the controversy surrounding the appearance of the purported DSS officer at the Enugu Tribunal, said it was the duty of the Nigerian police and not the DSS to conduct investigations relating to forgeries and other crimes considered as not threatening to the internal security of the country.
Citing previous cases that have been handled by Nigerian courts, Iloh referred to a matter that had been handled by the Court of Appeal, which was published in the Nigerian Law Report.
He said, “In Tawakalitu v. FRN (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 561) 1413 at 1489 to 1490, par E-F, it is clear that the powers conferred on the police are wider than those of the State Security Service which are confined to detection of crimes against the internal security of Nigeria; preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal responsibilities affecting internal security of the Nigerian State as the National Assembly or President may deem necessary to assign to the service.
“With the greatest respect, examination malpractices and/or certificate forgery is not one of those crimes relating to or contemplated by the National Security Act on the internal security of Nigeria to confer the State Security Service with the powers to arrest, detain, investigate, and arraign the accused persons in that respect.”
SaharaReporters had reported that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) declared Peter Mbah of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) as the winner of the March 18 governorship election in Enugu State amid protests and allegations of overvoting.
According to the INEC declaration, Mbah polled a total of 160,895 votes to defeat his closest rival, Chijioke Edeoga of the Labour Party, who secured 157,552 votes.
But before the result was announced, the media had been awash with allegations that Mbah forged his NYSC discharge certificate.
Although he denied it, the Director General of the NYSC, Brig. Gen. Yushau Dogara, in addition to a letter repudiating the discharge certificate submitted by Mbah to INEC, also went on national television to disclaim the purported certificate.
The discharge certificate became even more controversial when Edeoga and the Labour Party made it their major item of prayer in their petition at the tribunal, where they seek to have the governor disqualified for alleged forgery and perjury.