Operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS), numbering about 20, on Wednesday forced their way into the Lagos residence of their former Director General, Col. Kayode Are, ejected his property and allegedly held him and his family hostage.
In true Gestapo-style, the operatives had arrived the residence on Alexander Road, Ikoyi, but when the family refused to open the door, they allegedly broke down the doors and windows.
According to reports, the eviction was carried out after the incumbent Director General of DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, was alleged to have ordered that Are, who headed the same agency under the Olusegun Obasanjo administration, must be removed from the house, which the DSS believes is an official residence that still belongs to the agency.
Are had however obtained a court injunction restraining the DSS from evicting him from the residence, but the DSS flouted the court order and evicted him forcibly.
Storming the house with three buses, the operatives forcibly broke into the house and harassed the residents after they could not produce a legal document to back their invasion.
Having no option than to pack, the family called in three trucks to help them convey some personal effects, but were unable to move their electrical appliances.
In an interview with THISDAY, an aggrieved family member, who was around when the DSS personnel struck, said the incident was nothing short of an invasion.
She said: “It happened around 12.30 pm when they struck all dressed in black. Mummy (Mrs. Are) had just come back from the hospital because she wasn’t feeling well.
“We were discussing when they stormed the house. We saw them from the window and she asked them who they were but they refused to disclose their identity.
“Mummy went and locked the door and the next thing they did was to break our doors and windows. The two female DSS operatives fought her (Mrs. Are) they tried to seize her phones.
“In the process, the one with the red hair even bit her. According to them, they were acting on orders from above.
“They first told us that they will take all of us to Abuja but we refused and they seized all our phones. Daddy (Col. Are) wasn’t around at the time.
“When he came back and the DSS personnel saw him, they were perplexed because they claimed that they did not know that it was his house they were sent to.
“They started pleading with him that they were only obeying orders. As we speak, we are still parking our property but I don’t know when we will finish.
“They have not allowed us to go out and refused to permit people to come in to help us. We are currently at their mercy.”
Meanwhile, the operatives also harassed the THISDAY crime reporter, Miss Chiemelie Ezeobi, and two others from Vanguard, Esther Onyegbula and Akeem Salau, by seizing their phones immediately they realised they were journalists.
After the initial questioning which led to them refusing the three journalists from entering the compound, one of the operatives called back the journalists and seized their phones.
Handing the phones over to the same female operative who allegedly bit Mrs. Are, she tried to go through the phones to ensure no pictures were taken.
The already tense situation was finally doused by a senior operative who ordered them to release the phones to the reporters and escort them out.
Are, a retired Nigerian Army colonel, was DSS Director General from 1999 to 2007 and briefly served as acting National Security Adviser (NSA) in 2010.
He also served as an officer in the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) until his retirement by former military head of state, General Sani Abacha.
He was appointed DSS DG by former President Obasanjo and was replaced by Afakiriya Gadzma.
Reacting to the forced eviction, a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani-Kayode, condemned the invasion and expressed concern that Nigeria was descending into a police state.
According to Fani-Kayode, Are had called him yesterday to complain that his house was under siege and that gunshots were being fired at him and his family in the evening.
He said: “I have just spoken to Colonel Kayode Are, the former DG of DSS during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration and the former acting National Security Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan and I am deeply concerned. He told me that his house is under siege and that gunshots are being fired at him and his family as we were speaking.
“I am not sure what the issue is about but a situation where security men go to the home of a respected patriot like that and start shooting at him and his family for whatever reason is unacceptable and extremely dangerous.”
The former minister linked the ordeal of the former security chief to the ongoing arrest of some leading political lights in the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).
“When you consider what is happening in Are’s home and marry it with the shameful manner in which Col. Sambo Dasuki, Chief Raymond Dokpesi, Governor Attahiru Bafawara, Alhaji Bashir Yuguda, Nnamdi Kanu, Godswill Orubebe, Bukola Saraki, Sule Lamido and others are being persecuted, threatened and demonised by the federal government, it is clear that we are now in a police state in which law and order has broken down and in which anything can happen.
“The case of Dasuki was particularly bad. He was barricaded in his home against court orders and treated like an animal for three weeks. He was humiliated and subjected to mental and psychological torture for no just cause for that period of time even though the courts had told the SSS to let him travel out of the country for urgent medical attention.
“Instead of doing so after three tortuous weeks, the SSS stormed his home, held everyone captive at gunpoint, grabbed him in front of his family, bundled him into a car and carried him to an unknown destination without any lawful authority or any arrest warrant,” he said.
Fani-Kayode warned that the Muhammadu Buhari administration was “playing a dangerous game of Russian roulette with a loaded gun and if they are not careful it will soon explode”.
“If they are not careful they will soon lose the confidence and trust of the people. They do not fear God. They are vindictive, petty, vicious, unforgiving and unjust and if they continue in this way, apart from alienating the people, they run the risk of provoking the wrath of God,” he warned.