Nigeria’s Directorate of State Security, (DSS) remains the all time subject of analysis in the public sphere for turning security into a stage performance in trying to re-arrest Omoyele Sowore, the leader of #RevolutionNow movement in a court premises in Abuja, Nigeria’s Federal Capital city. The public sphere, especially the social media, is awash with interpretation of the display as the return of dictatorship, especially that personified by the General Sani Abacha regime from 1993 to 1998 when hundreds were detained by the secret police and the military intelligence for one reason or the other.
Although security is a thick signifier, meaning only that which those using the term may mean, it is curious to many why the DSS could not play a de-escalation card in this case. Rather, it had to carry out the arrest in a manner critics have found unsupportable since supporting it would amount to supporting the deployment of the might of state power against an individual in a case in which the court is already an intervening variable.
The question is why it might have resorted to the drama in court today – is that evidence of desperation or a deliberate display of power as a warning for those who have eyes and ears.
With Sowore, the main actor in the unfolding drama, alleging that DSS operatives have said he would not survive his detention, the DSS may have successfully been drawn into a battle in which it may bleed, confronting a propaganda warfare it doesn’t look prepared for.
This is more so that this is not the first time under the Buhari regime that the DSS would stage such a performance. The first would be the siege on the National Assembly in 2018.