JUST-IN: DSS Operatives, NASS Staff Clash

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Chaos erupted in the White House section of the National Assembly (NASS) complex on Friday over alleged assault on two senior staff of the legislature by personnel of the Department of State Services (DSS).

Trouble started at about 11:45am at the gate connecting the Senate’s new building to the White House section when the two top civil servants were asked to identify themselves by DSS operatives stationed at the gate.

Eyewitness accounts confirmed that the two National Assembly staff, namely John Nnadi of the Senate Committee on Petroleum (Downstream) and Chris Odoh, a Deputy Director, showed their identity cards to the DSS operatives, but were stopped for not properly identifying themselves.

As senior staff of NASS, their attempts to proceed to the White House section from the Senate’s new building section were forcefully obstructed by the DSS operatives, resulting in chaos and outright physical assault on the duo by the DSS operatives.

Efforts made by passersby, including our reporter, to resolve the crisis infuriated the DSS operatives, who were later joined by four other colleagues. They descended heavily on the two National Staff staff, dragging John Nnadi and pushing Deputy Director Chris Idoh to their office at the White House.

The forceful dragging of Nnadi and Odoh to the DSS office, which is approximately 125 metres away, drew sympathetic attention of staff members of the nearby Unity Bank, United Bank for Africa (UBA), workers of Senate Public Accounts Committee (SPAC), and journalists from the Senate Press Centre, whose offices were along the corridor.

Annoyed by the embarrassing scene, civil servants from various offices at the White House, including the Mace bearer in the Senate, spontaneously gathered in front of the DSS office and threatened severe consequences if the two arrested senior staff of the National Assembly were not immediately released.

The Divisional Police Officer (DPO) at the National Assembly complex, Alex Annagu, and Deputy Clerk to the Senate (Legislative), Mrs. Ilobah Isabella, hurriedly rushed to the scene to calm the situation and appealed to everyone to return to their respective offices.

While listening to the appeal from the DPO and the Deputy Clerk, one of the assaulted staff members, John Nnadi, stormed out of the DSS office, shouting that the Clerk to the National Assembly (CNA), Alhaji Sani Magaji Tambawal, must be informed about the injustice and intimidation they were subjected to by the DSS operatives.

His suggestion was spontaneously accepted by the crowd, who joined him in marching to the office of the CNA, where they chanted “We will not tolerate this intimidation by DSS” for about 15 minutes before dispersing, as the CNA was not in the office at that time.

Upon returning to the lobby, the DPO made further appeals to the assaulted staff and others, urging them to allow peace to prevail as his office and that of the DSS were already comparing notes on what transpired.

“My appeal to everyone at this point, particularly Mr. John Nnadi, is that we should all return to our offices. John Nnadi should go to the clinic for a medical check-up to assess any injury that may have been inflicted on him during the alleged physical assault.

“Gathering here and chanting solidarity songs will not rectify any wrongdoing that may have occurred, but going to the clinic for medical examination and potential documentation of any injury from the alleged assault will assist in building a case,” he said.

The assaulted Nnadi later joined by Odoh proceeded to the clinic, clearing the way for the agitated crowd to disperse at around 12:35pm.


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