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African press review 8 August 2018

Nigeria's intelligence chief is sacked after ordering armed operatives to take over the National Assembly. Questions loom about who ordered the operation and what the motives were.

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Today we turn to Nigeria, where the papers are all about Tuesday's blockade of the National Assembly by elements of the country's intelligence services and the sacking of the agency's chief Lawal Daura.

Punch reports that the acting president, Yemi Osinbajo, sacked the Director-General of the Department of State Services, after learning of the early morning siege at the National Assembly by 100 armed and masked operatives of the department.

According to the paper, the siege which began as early as 6am, caught most employees of the National Assembly unawares as cleaners, bankers, reporters and others who had business to transact within the complex were prevented from entering the premises.

Vanguard reports that the move was linked to continuing intrigues to forcibly remove the major presiding officers of the Senate, Senate President Bukola Saraki, and his deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, following their resignation from President Muhammadu Buhari's ruling APC party to join a coalition alliance including the opposition PDP.

Premium Times says it learnt from irrefutable sources that when the acting president asked him who ordered the operatives to lay siege on the National Assembly, he responded that it was within his powers and that he is only answerable to the President and Commander-in-Chief who appointed him.

The newspaper also says that the source confirmed that Osinbajo immediately asked the National Security Adviser to hand over the sacked DG to the police for further investigation.

The Nigerian Tribune says Osinbajo picked Matthew B. Seiyefa, the most senior Director in the Department of State Services (DSS), to take over from Daura "until further notice.”

The Nation carries a statement from Osinbajo's office assuring Nigerians that all persons within the law enforcement apparatus who participated in this travesty will be “identified and subjected to appropriate disciplinary action”.

Daily Sun says the Vice President wielded the big stick after he got the nod from President Buhari, who was on a 10-day vacation in the United Kingdom.

This Day publishes a statement issued by the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, condemning the "siege" at the National Assembly by security officials as a “coup against democracy”.

Several newspapers highlight a statement from the Coalition of United Political Parties accusing Buhari of being behind the invasion intended in their view to prevent the holding of the 2019 general elections and hold on to power.

Similarly, northern leaders under the aegis of Northern Leaders and Stakeholders condemned the invasion of the body's Secretary Umar Ardo, describing it as the “worst form of impunity Nigeria has witnessed in recent history”, according to the Nigerian Tribune.

In an editorial, Punch holds that while the acting president claimed that the unlawful act was done without the knowledge of the presidency, it didn’t come out of the blue, abuse of power having in its words reached epidemic proportions as the 2019 elections draw nearer.

The publication reports that the upheaval began on 24 July when 14 senators and 37 House of Representatives members defected from the ruling All Progressives Congress to join a new coalition formed with the opposition Peoples Democratic Party determined to plot the defeat of Buhari in the 2019 elections.

Buhari bears the responsibility and blame for this avoidable or needless recourse to naked abuse of power to further personal political interests.

Nigeria should not be seen to be promoting the kind of political intolerance associated with countries such as Zimbabwe, Burundi and Democratic Republic of Congo, for example, where opposition to government is always met with a serious crackdown, according to Punch.

 

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