• Says mass protests, court injunctions part of plots to stop handover
• Asks judiciary, media, CSOs to be wary of schemers
• May 29 handover date sacrosanct, transition council reaffirms
What was for many months a subject of rumours was yesterday, elevated beyond the realms of speculation, when the Department of State Services (DSS) officially confirmed that a section of the political class is planning for an interim government to truncate the smooth transition of power on May 29 from President Muhammadu Buhari to President-elect Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The DSS spokesman, Peter Afunanya, in a statement, said the agency has uncovered a plot by key political actors to install an interim government in the country. He identified some key players in the scheme but did not give the names of the masterminds.
The nation’s intelligence organ said the planners of the ‘interim government’ plot had already held several meetings, during which they weighed many options to actualise their plan, including sponsoring endless mass protests across Nigerian cities, securing a warrant to declare a state of emergency or a court injunction to stop the inauguration of the executive and the legislature at the federal and state levels while plunging the country into an avoidable crisis.
The statement said: “DSS considers the plot, being pursued by these entrenched interests, as not only an aberration but a mischievous way to set aside the Constitution and undermine civil rule as well as plunge the country into an avoidable crisis.
“The illegality is totally unacceptable in a democracy and to peace-loving Nigerians. This is even more so that the machination is taking place after the peaceful conduct of the elections in most parts of the country.
“The planners, in their many meetings, have weighed various options, which include, among others, to sponsor endless violent mass protests in major cities to warrant a declaration of State of Emergency. Another is to obtain frivolous court injunctions to forestall the inauguration of new executive administrations and legislative houses at the Federal and state levels.
“DSS supports the President and Commander-in-Chief in his avowed commitment to a hitch-free handover and will assiduously work in this direction. It also supports the Presidential Transition Council and such other related bodies in the states. It will collaborate with them and sister security and law enforcement agencies to ensure seamless inaugurations come May 29.”
There have been agitations for Tinubu not to be inaugurated on May 29, based on complaints by his opponents on the presidential election.
Datti Baba-Ahmed, the vice-presidential candidate of the Labour Party (LP), specifically called on President Buhari and Olukayode Ariwoola, the Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), not to inaugurate Tinubu, tagging it an “illegality”.
Some demonstrators also went to the defence headquarters building in Abuja on Tuesday, to protest the outcome of the presidential election in what was construed as an invitation for military intervention, which the secret police spokesman alleged were sponsored protests.
“Consequently, the Service strongly warns those organising to thwart democracy in the country to retract from their devious schemes and orchestrations.
“Stakeholders, notably judicial authorities, media, and the Civil Society are enjoined to be watchful and cautious to avoid being used as instruments to subvert peace and stability of the nation. While its monitoring continues, the DSS will not hesitate to take decisive and necessary legal steps against these misguided elements to frustrate their obnoxious intentions,” Afunanya stated.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Presidential Transition Council (PTC) reaffirmed the sanctity of the May 29 handover date for the incoming administration, stating that it had perfected arrangements for a hitch-free exercise. Refurbishment of offices for the President and Vice President-elect had been completed, same with facilities at the Defence House.
Also, personnel of the DSS and Nigeria Police Force (NPF) have been deployed to the elected two top-most citizens waiting to be sworn in, just as protocol officers had been assigned to them from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) and Chairman of the PTC, Boss Mustapha, who disclosed in Abuja, said despite threats from some quarters, there would be a formal handover on that day, irrespective of stages of litigations in deference to constitutional requirements.
He noted that the court processes would continue even after inauguration until a final determination by the Supreme Court, adding that President Buhari will not spend an extra day in office.
The last time Nigeria had an Interim Government in power was 30 years ago and it lasted for 82 days. Following the June 12, 1993, presidential election, which was won by Moshood Abiola and annulled by the Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, there was a crisis.
Soon after the crisis seemed to have abated a bit, Babangida handed power over to Ernest Shonekan as interim Head of State on 27 August 1993. Shonekan’s government was adjudged largely as “powerless” and was dissolved when General Sani Abacha seized power on November 17, 1993.
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