Sunday, November 23, 2014

DSS operatives, soldiers ransack APC office in Lagos

Operatives of the Department of State Service and soldiers attached to the security unit code-named Operation MESA on Saturday stormed the All Progressives Congress data centre in Lagos and arrested 25 data agents and three security guards.

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that the security agents also ransacked the duplex located on Ajibola Street, off Allen Avenue, Ikeja, and confiscated computer hardware, which contained the data of APC members in several parts of the country.

It was learnt that the security operatives arrived at the centre as early as 6am and ransacked the building for about two hours before arresting those found on the premises.

According to sources, the DSS acted on a tip-off that the centre was allegedly being used as a warehouse by a former Governor of Lagos State, Bola Tinubu, to produce and issue fake Permanent Voter Cards, while another version had it that weapons were being kept at the centre.

However, the National Publicity Secretary of the APC, Lai Mohammed, said in a statement that the act was part of a ploy by the Peoples Democratic Party-led Federal Government to intimidate the APC ahead of the 2015 elections.

Narrating what transpired, Mohammed said, "In the early hours of Saturday morning, a combined team of men of the DSS and OP-MESA stormed the Bola Ajibola Data Centre belonging to the APC in the Ikeja area of Lagos and arrested 25 APC data agents and three security guards.

"In what was a Gestapo-like operation, the APC membership data centre located at Number 10, Bola Ajibola Street, came under siege between the hours of 5.30am and 7.30am on Saturday.

"An operation of terror and brigandage was unleashed on a legitimate operation of a leading national party. They came without a search warrant for the premises.

"Over 50 security operatives drafted from Abuja operations blocked the two major street entrances to the APC data entry centre, pulled down the gates and spent over two hours ransacking and vandalising the centre. More than a dozen computers were destroyed. The server was also vandalised along with other equipment in the building.

"Just like the Watergate scandal in the USA, the state-sponsored security operatives, apparently acting at the behest of the ruling PDP government, turned the office upside down and pulled out and vandalised everything in sight.

"If the PDP-led government and the security agents had done due diligence and acted professionally, they would have known that the APC data centre is a legitimate operation and the (members of) staff are Nigerian youths who were left jobless by the Jonathan government.

"They chose to believe the lie that it was a warehouse belonging to one of the national leaders of the party where dangerous weapons were being kept, when in fact it is a centre for entering the data provided by the millions of Nigerians who registered as members of the party (APC) during its membership registration exercise."

Mohammed said the DSS were acting on "weak and misinformed intelligence," describing the incident as "the worst political scandal in Nigeria's history."

He maintained that the action must not go unpunished.

Source: Punch

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