Premium Times (Abuja)

30 March 2014

Nigeria: How the Gun Battle Began - - SSS - It's Not True - Security Sources, Residents

Photo: Premium Times
Nigerian security officers.

The Department of State Services has issued a statement, claiming that the sustained gun battle around its headquarters and the vicinity of the presidential villa this morning began after a detainee disarmed an operative and tried to effect a jailbreak.

"At 0715 hours, the Service suspect handler went to the detention facility within the Headquarters to feed the suspects," the SSS spokesperson, Marilyn Ogar, said in the statement. "One of the suspects attempted to disarm him by hitting him at the back of his head with his handcuff. His attempt to escape drew the attention of other guards at the facility who fired some shots to warn and deter others.

"The gun shots attracted the attention of the military with whom we have an understanding of mutual assistance in the event of any threat. The Army immediately deployed a team to reinforce our perimeter guards to forestall any external collaborators. The situation has since been brought under control."

But knowledgeable security sources are telling PREMIUM TIMES that the SSS narrative begs further questions because they are "untrue and misleading".

The sources frame their doubts around the presumed impenetrability of the DSS facility and headquarters; the unusually huge military intervention force; the quality of ordinance deployed; and the prolonged period of gun exchange.

"The truth is that a jailbreak is impossible in the SSS headquarters," one of our sources said."It has two fences and is highly fortified. And there is no way a man on handcuff could launch an attack vicious enough to disarm an operative.

"Also our people need to tell the world whether it was only one gun taken from the disarmed operative that the detainees used in engaging soldiers and SSS operatives in sustained gun battle for about three hours.

"If it is about subduing one man who attempted a jailbreak, why did we need truckloads of fully armed soldiers and deployment of Armoured Personnel Carriers, RPGs and other sophisticated weapons?

"Also, why did the exchange of fire lasted for so long? Why did we have to deploy helicopter gunships to hover around the villa and Yellow House (SSS headquarters).

"Nigerians should demand the truth. I can tell you that a more serious incident happened than our people are willing to admit and there is a serious attempt at cover-up."

Some residents of the area also believe what happened could not have been just an attempted jailbreak.

"Whatever this is, it appears more serious than an attempted jailbreak claimed by the SSS," former Minister Nasir El-Rufai, who live a few metres away from the SSS headquarters said. "May God Protect the innocent and destroy the murderers, kidnappers and planners of genocide, Amen."

Another former minister, whose home neighboured the SSS headquarters, Femi Fani-Kayode said,"I live 50 metres away from the SSS headquarters and the Villa and what I witnessed with my eyes and heard this morning was a full scale battle."

The entire vicinity of the presidential palace and the SSS headquarters has been cordoned off, making it impossible for journalists to do area assessment with a view to determining what actually happened.

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