Since the disappearance of the seven DSS operatives in Lagos over eight months ago, the government has not spoken a word on the matter. This is despite numerous agitations by family members of the missing operatives for information on the whereabouts of their loved ones.
Ubiquitous newspaper and online reports could not impinge the government to speak on the matter. For example, the front cover of most newspapers on September 16, 2015 announced: ‘9 DSS operatives shot at Arepo.’ Then on the front page of Vanguard newspaper of January 16, 2016 a caption reads: “Murdered DSS operatives: U.S. citizen petitions Buhari.” In the detailed report on page 47 one of the family members of the victims claimed to have written to the Director General of DSS and the presidency. The letter claimed that there was no reply from either source. Again on the front cover of Vanguard of November 23, 2015 a named Lagos robbery kingpin confessed “to killing of the 7 DSS operatives.” Similar report was also published in Punch newspaper of January 16, 2016 and the Sun newspaper of same day. Yet the government still kept silent. Online news reports and comments on the same matter abound yet the government seems adamant in commenting and bringing a closure to the matter.
In response to David Cameron, the Nigerian president may have abbreviated the wide ramifications of the choice of ‘fantastic’ and ‘corrupt’. Yet, while looted treasury is one of the alarming dimensions of the Nigerian corruption, there are so many other dimensions one of which is human rights abuse and the abdication of responsibility.
Indeed ‘fantastic’ may even be less austere a word needed to convey the grave import of such action that seven DSS operatives went on an official assignment and disappeared for eight months yet the government they were serving closed their matter without any official pronouncement or information to the families nor compensation of any form. Instead the gallantry exhibited by these officers in the course of their duty seems to be met by a show of an evident malfeasance by the DSS office and the government they serve.
The continuous silence by the DSS office on this matter of national concern borders on moral responsibility and the cause of justice in Nigeria. Government’s weird silence on the mater seems to foreclose the least hope of their safe return.
As the case stands, assuming the missing seven DSS operatives are dead, their relatives cannot bury them because there is still no official statement from the DSS office. The most traumatic question is ‘where are their corpses assuming they are dead?’ The agonies and grief of the family members would remain palpable as long as the silence of the office lasts. One, therefore, wonders whether ‘fantastically corrupt’ would not be a deserving phrase for the conspiracy of silence surrounding the DSS office on the matter. Their silence further renders government action culpable. It suggests official acquiescence to a suspected ‘fantastically corrupt’ practice somewhere in the polity.
If leadership must be driven by example rather than by precept, then the government must exhibit such prudence and openness by living up to official responsibility of informing family members the whereabouts of their bread winners. Again the directors of DSS all over Nigeria should be able to ask questions about the whereabouts of their gallant officers! This is a simplest demonstration, of espirit de corps among the rank and file. By so doing the DSS and the Nigerian government would have commenced the process of shaking off the evil halo of ‘fantastically corrupt’ hanging over its head.