Oct 10, 2016

Powers of National Security Agencies in Nigeria

According to Wikipedia, National security is a concept that a government, along with its parliaments, should protect the state and its citizens against all kind of "national" crises through a variety of power projections, such as political power, diplomacy, economic power, military might, and so on.

Nigeria like every other nation has Security Agencies in addition to the Police and the Armed Forces. For instance the United States of America has the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), the Department of Homeland Security and the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The United Kingdom also has MI6. Likewise Nigeria has its own agencies with similar duties as the agencies stated above.  

 These agencies are provided for in the National Security Agency Act. The Act is An Act to disband the Nigeria Security Organization and to create three security agencies, charging each with the conduct of the relevant aspect of the national security, and other related matters.

The Act states that – 

There shall, for the effective conduct of national security, be established the following National Security Agencies -
       (a)       the Defence Intelligence Agency;
       (b)       the National Intelligence Agency; and
       (c)        the State Security Service (SSS).

The respective agencies also have their duties outlined. Section 2(1) of the Act provides that the Defence Intelligence Agency shall be charged with responsibility for-

 (a)  the prevention and detection of crime of a military nature against the security of Nigeria;
  (b)the protection and preservation of all military classified matters concerning the security of Nigeria, both within and outside Nigeria;
 (c) such other responsibilities affecting defence intelligence of a military nature, both within and outside Nigeria, as the President, or the Chief of Defence Staff, as the case may be, may deem necessary.

  Subsection 2 of the Act provides for the duties of the National Intelligence Agency and states that it shall be charged with responsibility for-

  (a) the general maintenance of the security of Nigeria outside Nigeria, concerning matters that are not related to military issues; and
    (b)such other responsibilities affecting national intelligence outside Nigeria as the National Defence Councilor the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary.
 Furthermore Subsection 3 provides for the State Security Service and provides that, The State Security Service shall be charged with responsibility for-

(a) the prevention and detection within Nigeria of any crime against the internal security of Nigeria;
 (b) the protection and preservation of all non-military classified matters concerning the internal security of Nigeria; and
 (c)such other responsibilities affecting internal security within Nigeria as the National Assembly or the President, as the case may be, may deem necessary.
 The National Intelligence Agency is Nigeria’s version of the Central Intelligence Agency, while the State Secret Service (SSS) is Nigeria’s version of the FBI.  The Act States in Section 4, that the powers of these agencies shall have effect regardless of any law to the contrary. It should be noted that the exception to this provision will be the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.  However, the Supreme Court noted in Dokubo -Asari v. F.R.N. (2007) ALL FWLR (Pt. 375) 558 at 585; Paras B - E & F - H (SC), that “where national security is threatened or there is the real likelihood of it being threatened, human rights or the individual right of those responsible take second place. Human rights or individual rights must be suspended until the national security can be protected or well taken care of”. 

This rule of law is not new as the court further posits that, “the corporate existence of Nigeria as a united, harmonous, indivisible and and indissoluble sovereign nation, is certainly greater than any citizen's liberty or right. Once the security of this nation is in jeopardy and it survives in pieces rather than in peace, the individual's liberty or right may not even exist”.

 The Act also makes provision for 2 advisory councils namely The National Defence Council and The National Security Council, while also providing for their duties and functions. 

 The above mentioned agencies are established by the Act to promote and protect the National Security of Nigeria. 

Adedunmade Onibokun Esq.

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