A quiet appointment has been made of Ambassador Mohammed Dawuda as the Acting-Director General of the National Intelligence Agency,NIA at the weekend. And in a related development, fresh facts have emerged of the deepening intrigues within the innermost recesses of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa.
The result is that those who understand how national security works are seriously alarmed that unless something is done urgently to rein in the debilitating factionalisation on matters concerning the NIA, Nigeria’s elite intelligence arm, and the country’s equivalent of the American CIA or the British M16 or Israel’s Mossad, the agency may be handicapped by unnecessary government in-fighting to give its best service to Nigeria.
Already, the new Acting DG, Ambassador Dawuda, formerly Nigeria’s immediate past Ambassador to Chad, has been handicapped by the decision of the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, to limit the DG’s role and powers only to operational matters.
The other roles that have in the past been within the purview of the DG have been set aside for a new group personally put together by the Chief of Staff. This group comprises of Ambassadors Babagana Kingibe, Zakari Ibrahim and Niyi Oladeji – NIA’s DG from 2009 to 2013. The three Ambassadors were originally called in by the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo panel to make expert input into the report of the investigation concerning the tenure of Ambassador Ayo Oke, which went up in a heavy smoke with the discovery of huge sums of money stashed in an IKoyi, Lagos, flat. Oke was suspended and was recently relived of his duties, but the nation has yet to see the result of the investigation into his tenure and especially about the $43.4 million operations cash found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission at apartment 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
NIA insiders suspect that the report may never come to light as the investigation may deliberately be deadlocked or made inconclusive. This is because it is public knowledge that Kingibe has been a long-time mentor and uncle-figure to Ambassador Oke. For instance, Oke served as Kingibe’s First Secretary when Kingibe was Nigeria’s Ambassador to Pakistan over three decades ago.
Another matter that is worsening the security in-fighting within the government concerns Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim, a former DG of NIA from 1993 to 1998. Although Ibrahim is from Katsina state, just like President Buhari, he is widely known to be not only a close-confidante of the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, he has been said to be a card-carrying member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP). So many Villa staff are actually suspicious of his presence there for they doubt where his loyalty lies, and owing to his intelligence background, may easily mislead President Buhari.
Worse still, in certain circles, Ambassador Niyi Oladeji, Oke’s immediate predecessor, is derisively referred to as Dame Patience Jonathan’s personal cashier.
There is a strong belief that the decision to terminate the appointment of the Acting DG of NIA, Ambassador Arap Yadam, whose tenure actually ends Tuesday November 7, 2017, actually runs against the National Security Act which stipulates that a three-month period of grace be given every departing head of NIA to allow for seamless handover of office and adequate briefing of a new DG from a departing one. Many suspect that this development may bring about the curious case whereby Ambasasdor Oke of the cash-in-Ikoyi-flat scandal would be the person to actually hand over to Amb. Dawuda to facilitate a planned cover-up of the “Ikoyi-gate” scandal.
Also, many suspect that apart from the Ikoyi-gate, a worse cover up may be in the offing; this is because another $250 million belonging to the NIA have been said by inside sources to have been discovered and the three musketeers now in control of the NIA affairs through their closeness and support from the Chief of Staff may gain support of that slush fund. That is why they are said to want the new Director-General to play no role beyond operational issues.
The Chief of Staff is said to be particularly happy with Kingibe who has emerged the unofficial Foreign Affairs Policy Chief for President Muhammadu Buhari.
Aso Rock insiders said that one of Amb. Yedam’s greatest sins is that he so believed in the transparency policy of the Buhari presidency that he refused to promote Buhari’s present Director of Protocol, Lawal Kazaure, to the position of a Director at the NIA. The protocol man was said to have failed his promotion examinations to the grade of a Director. “The last one was held last month and he still flunked it”, our source said. Also, Yedam also refused to bow the pressure some Aso Rock insiders put on him to embark on a massive purchase of motor-vehicles for Ambassadors.
Now, the Chief of Staff to President Buhari has pounced on the pretext that Amb. Yedam’s official retirement date is November 7, 2017 to deny him a three-month of grace that should have allowed for a seamless handover at the NIA. Villa insiders called this a “coup against NIA and a revenge mission against transparency and due process following Amb. Yedam”.