The Senate Committee on Ethics and Public Petitions on Wednesday, summoned the Director-General of the Directorate of the State Services, Lawal Daura, for interrogation over allegation of interference in the affairs of the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal.
Daura is expected to appear tomorrow, Thursday, before the committee which is currently conducting investigation into the petition against him by lawmakers from the State House of Assembly.
The 31-member state lawmakers had forwarded a petition to the upper chamber, which was referred to the committee by the Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
The petition alleged among others, that the DSS had arrested some officials of the Independent National Election Commission and members of the Election Petition Tribunal.
It further alleged that the DSS officials subjected the INEC staff members to serious intimidation, harassment and coercion to compromise the judicial independence of the tribunal and pervert the cause of justice.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, (PDP, Imo East) after listening to the submissions of the Rivers legislators on Wednesday, warned all parties involved in the matter against unnecessary delay.
Anyanwu said the committee would pay serious attention to allegation of abuse of office implied in the petition against the DSS, even as he asked the petitioners to provide specific details on the petition to assist the committee.
He said, “The issue of independence of the judiciary is a very serious pillar in the dispensation of justice. That is why the committee takes the allegation of intimidation of tribunal members very seriously.
“If the judiciary is intimidated, then the independence is compromised. So we want all details about this allegation supplied to the committee without delay.”
The Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, Ikuinyi-Owaji Ibani, who led other members of the House to the committee, to defend the petition, stated that INEC Resident Electoral Commissioner in Rivers state, Mrs. Gesila Khan and other Senior officials of the commission had equally been arrested and detained by the DSS in Abuja.
He said, “We make bold to say that they lack the power or the authority to invite any judicial officer serving in the Rivers State Election Petition Tribunal for questioning concerning their handling of election petitions pending before them based on some purported petitions from interested parties.
“We commend the stance and efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari to instill discipline, strengthen institutions of State and deepen democratic values where all Nigerians will have equal opportunities.
“We are all appalled by their present clandestine and surreptitious moves aimed at derailing an efficient, transparent and unbiased justice delivery system and thereby bringing the judiciary into disrepute, public ridicule and odium.
“In Barking on this condemnable mission, the DSS purports to be acting on some pre-arranged petitions from persons who are directly interested in the outcome of the various election petitions from Rivers State.”