By Ismaila Iliyasu & Ikenna Ellis Ezenekwe
As veteran media practitioners who are concerned for the truth, for the security of Nigeria and for the safety of its people, we have been compelled by a series of deleterious publications in the last four years that threaten to undermine the peace and security of our dear country, to undertake discreet investigation as to the source of these malicious and unpatriotic publications.
Our discreet investigation, based on authoritative interviews with knowledgeable persons who however choose to remain private, as well as unimpeachable documents that we were privileged to inspect, established beyond reasonable doubt that the unseen hand behind these dangerous and malicious publications is one Ambassador Mohammed Dauda. This man acted for only one month in 2017-18 as Director General of the National Intelligence Agency [NIA]. The President did not find him fit and worthy for appointment as NIA’s head, so he was replaced by a substantive DG. Since then, he has embarked on a relentless campaign of calumny designed to bring down the roof of a critical national security agency.
It is instructive that when President Muhammadu Buhari earlier appointed Mohammed Dauda [better known as Modu] as Nigeria’s Ambassador to the Republic of Chad, a crucial post in view of our two countries’ close cooperation in the fight against insurgency, he gladly accepted the appointment even though there were other, more worthy persons that the President could have appointed. When the President did not appoint him as head of NIA, apparently because he was privy to the man’s indiscipline and lack of patriotism, Mohammed Dauda now took umbrage and began his war against his successors, NIA and Nigeria as a whole.
NIA, Nigeria’s equivalent of the CIA, has always maintained a low profile since its creation in 1986 and does not publicly join issues with anyone. Its officers are also some of the best trained and some of the most dedicated public servants in Nigeria who maintain discipline and discretion even after they leave the service.
Mohammed Dauda became NIA’s acting DG in December 2017 after its then acting DG retired from service and he was replaced by a substantive DG in January 2018. All hell broke loose soon afterwards. This disgruntled man emptied the agency’s vaults and moved funds elsewhere, allegedly for safe keeping, against all known financial rules of the public service. He leaked secret personnel files to the news media, made dangerous allegations against his successor, which the Presidency declared to be unfounded. He then sent frivolous petitions to the National Assembly, making wild and fictitious allegations.
In 2018, a Special Management Staff Disciplinary Committee found Mohammed Dauda guilty of offences including “breach of confidentiality, violation of oath of secrecy/allegiance, misapplication of Agency funds, unlawful petition, disobedience of lawful orders, falsehood and prevarication, injurious rumour peddling and violation of Section 108 on unauthorized publication in the media.” The Senior Management Committee, with the President’s approval, dismissed him from NIA’s service. He has since been living in the United Arab Emirates [UAE] from where he has continued to mount campaigns of calumny against the agency and its top officials. We are surprised that the UAE, which is friendly to Nigeria, continues to harbor a subversive element. If it has not done so already, the Federal Government of Nigeria should file processes with the UAE to demand Mohammed Dauda’s extradition back home to answer for his crimes in a law court.
The National Industrial Court ruled in 2020 that Mohammed Dauda should be reinstated to the service because some disciplinary rules were not complied with, which ruling has been appealed. He however planted stories in the media saying the court reinstated him as Director General, an impossibility since this is a political appointment at the discretion of the President.
As further proof of his indiscipline and lack of patriotism, Mohammed Dauda appeared before a House of Representatives committee in February 2018 and read out a sensational petition reeling out confidential security information, which he promptly leaked to the mass media. In it he made many wild allegations against members of the Presidential Task Force on the reform of security agencies, which were all found to be false.
In 2020, Dauda orchestrated more stories in the media. In the name of alleging favoritism within the agency, he breached all known rules of the service and of national security by mentioning publicly the names of officers he said were posted, the locations to which they were posted and the officers that they would replace there. Assuming the lists were true, this was a bonanza he freely provided to foreign intelligence agencies, an offence that in many countries could earn for the perpetrator the death penalty.
Last month, Mohammed Dauda was up to his unpatriotic game again, running around media houses and planting stories, alleging that some faceless NIA directors wrote a letter to President Buhari and told him to “stop appending his signature to things he does not understand,” allegedly because “his advisers are misleading him because of their selfish interests.”
Our discreet investigation found that no such letter was written by any NIA directors, serving or retired. Indeed, no public service officer worth the name could write such an impudent letter to the President of the Federal Republic. The purpose of the alleged letter was to warn the President to desist from reappointing the current DG, whose first four-year tenure expires this month. It was most presumptuous, most disrespectful to the President’s office, most injurious to constitutional prerogatives, most harmful to national security and most selfishly egotistical for Mohammed Dauda to try to stampede the Presidency into a decision one way or another just to satisfy his lust for vengeance, ego trip and self-aggrandizement.
It is true that intelligence services all over the world, including the American CIA, Britain’s MI6, Russian Federation’s Sluzhba Vneshney Razvedki [SVR] and Israel’s Mossad have all had instances over the years where former officers became rogue and tried to undermine the agencies’ integrity. Governments as well as security and intelligence agencies worldwide do not take kindly to sabotage because of their critical roles in their nations’ security.
No country, including the most developed ones, tolerates the breach of intelligence information and the outing of secret service officers. In the US, vice presidential aide in George W Bush’s Administration, Lewis Scooter Libby, was jailed for exposing the wife of Ambassador Joseph Wilson as a CIA agent. In 1994, CIA counterintelligence officer Aldrich Ames was sentenced to life in prison without parole for “compromising highly classified CIA assets.” In 2001, American FBI officer Robert Hanssen was sentenced to 15 consecutive life sentences without possibility of parole for compromising US intelligence secrets. The British Government took serious exception in 1987 when former MI5 officer Peter Wright published his book Spycatcher, and banned its sale in the UK.
The actions of Mohammed Dauda in the past four years proved beyond all reasonable doubt that he was a most unfit and improper person to hold positions of responsibility in Nigeria. He has conclusively proved to the world that the President was absolutely right when he terminated Mohammed Dauda’s tenure as NIA’s Acting Director General in 2018 after only a month, a position he occupied without an appointment letter, based upon a phone call, and only because he was NIA’s most senior director at the time, though on foreign posting.
We therefore urge all Nigerians to henceforth disregard the antics of Mohammed Dauda which seek to distract critical security agencies from keeping their eyes on the ball with regards to insecurity that is bedeviling this nation. We also urge media houses to be wary, lest they become accomplices in the illegal and unpatriotic actions of Mohammed Dauda which undermine national security. We are confident that President Muhammadu Buhari will wisely use the performance information to which he is the sole privy to exercise his constitutional prerogatives in matters of appointment and reappointment of security officers without stampede or distraction by disgruntled persons such as Mohammed Dauda.
Messrs Iliyasu and Ezenekwe, are senior investigative journalists based in Abuja