Department of State Services (DSS) Director-General Lawal Musa Daura was sacked yesterday for allegedly denting the image and democratic credentials of the Muhammadu Buhari administration, The Nation learnt last night.
Matthew Seiyefa, the most senior director at the DSS, took over the organisation. Acting President Yemi Osinbajo fired Daura for deploying DSS operatives to lay siege to the National Assembly.
The deployment was considered by the Presidency to be “contemptuous” of Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
The DSS was suspected to have worked with some principal officers of the National Assembly “to embarrass the Presidency”.
Daura is believed to be “very close” to a principal officer of the National Assembly, which has been at loggerheads with the Executive.
The siege to the National Assembly came few hours after Osinbajo brokered an understanding for the lawmakers to reconvene and consider the supplementary budget to avoid a shutdown of the government.
Neither Buhari nor Osinbajo was informed of the deployment of DSS operatives, it was learnt. The Presidency is said to have ordered Daura’s detention. He is also to be disarmed. The police and other security agencies were combing Daura’s office and residences as at the time of filing this report last night.
More heads may roll in DSS and other agencies implicated in the siege to the National Assembly.
Daura was consumed yesterday by the political intrigues in the country. He was fired with immediate effect. Daura was summoned to the Presidential Villa by the Acting President a few minutes before his sack was announced.
He was directed to hand over to the most senior officer of the DSS until further notice.
The Acting President’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, in a terse statement, said:”The Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has directed the termination of the appointment of the Director General, State Security Service, Lawal Musa Daura, with immediate effect.
“Mr Daura has been directed to hand over to the most senior officer of the State Security Service until further notice.’’
Daura was joined at the Villa meeting with the Acting President by Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris, who arrived at about 12.35 p.m. Daura got in around 1.15p.m.
Osinbajo described the blockade of the National Assembly by operatives of the DSS as unauthorised.
He condemned it as a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all accepted notions of law and order.
He said that the unlawful act, which was done without the knowledge of the Presidency, was completely unacceptable.
The statement said Osinbajo assured Nigerians that “all persons within the law enforcement apparatus who participated in this travesty will be identified and subjected to appropriate disciplinary action’’.
Daura, 64, was appointed to head the agency on July 2, 2015 to replace Ita Ekpeyong. He worked and retired from the agency before his appointment by Presidnt Muhammadu Buhari.
An unusual security blanket was thrown around the National Assembly Complex in Abuja early yesterday by men of the DSS.
National Assembly employees, legislative aides and reporters who arrived before 7 am met stern-faced operatives who barred them from the facility.
Shortly before 8 am when our correspondent visited the National Assembly Complex, about 20 policemen were at the outer gate, with only very few bearing AK-47 rifles.
At the second gate, the situation was different, with nine masked gun-wielding DSS operatives in black fatigues, along with several other DSS personnel in suits and regular clothing firmly blocking the entrance.
The armed men who also had black face masks and hand gloves carried IMI Tavor Tar-21 assault rifles produced by Israeli Military Industries.
Three Ford Ranger SUVs without number plates were packed in front of the gate, ostensibly to disallow anyone from driving in.
A young man who was making a video recording with his mobile phone promptly stopped after receiving verbal threats from one of the masked DSS personnel who said: “If I catch that your phone now, I go march am”.
Initially, everyone, including senators and members of the House of Representatives were being barred from entering the complex, but around 8am, 47-year old Honourable Boma Goodhead, militant leader Asari Dokubo’s sister, defied the security operatives and became the first lawmaker to enter the complex.
After the entry of Hon. Goodhead, a PDP member who represents Asalga/Akulga Federal Constituency of Rivers State, several senators and House members, such as Reps Teejay Yusuf (Kogi), Kingsley Chinda (Rivers), Agbedi Frederick (Bayelsa), Razaq Atunwa (Kwara) and Joseph Akinlaja (Ondo) entered the facility.
Senators who entered by 8.15 am include Ben Murray Bruce, Ubale Shittu, Isa Hamma Misau, Biodun Olujimi and Rafiu Ibrahim.
They walked in through the second gate with their Identification Cards (IDs) on their chests. All their vehicles were forced to stop and park outside the gate unlike the usual practice whereby their drivers drove straight in to their chambers.
Why Osinbajo sacked security chief Daura
Lawal Daura was fired yesterday as Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) for embarrasing the government, a source said.
The source, who pleaded not to be named because of the “sensitivity” of the matter, listed 11 reasons why Daura got the push.
Denting President Buhari’s image overruling Buhari, VP Osinbajo on crucial matters, such as the $43.45million recovered at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos; confirmation of the Acting EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu and others;
alleged disrespect of court orders on ex-NSA Sambo Dasuki and Islamic cleric Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and detention of Jones Abiri; and using security reasons to determine who to see (or pray) with Buhari.
Others include unauthorised deployment of operatives/ sting operations against Supreme Court justices, National Assembly, ex-DG DSS Kayode Are, others; alleged interference in the affairs of other security agencies, especially the EFCC on some sensitive cases, including those involving some ex-Service Chiefs.
Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), DSS; alleged refusal to take orders from and irreconcilable differences with the National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Babagana Monguno; controversy over negotiation of freedom for Chibok and Dapchi girls; intelligence report on alleged romance with Saraki and some principal officers of National Assembly; alleged hostility to the media and alleged usurpation/ duplication of the functions of anti-corruption agencies.
The source said: “The DG, DSS had his cup full in the past few weeks when the President detested some of his actions based on intelligence report.
“In fact, the President had agreed on a two-week deadline to remove him. The invasion of the National Assembly by DSS operatives hastened Daura’s exit.
“The President got an instant briefing from Acting President Yemi Osinbajo. Buhari also had the privilege to watch the siege on television.,” the source said, adding:
“Buhari felt insulted that Daura drafted DSS operatives to the National Assembly without any covert or overt instructions. He, therefore, directed Osinbajo to fire the DG.”
The source gave the details of how Daura ran the DSS to the embarrassment of the Presidency.
He said: “What embarrassed the Presidency most was the affront by the sacked DG in overruling the President on some issues. When AVM JON Ode Committee was set up by the President to probe the $2.1b arms deals, he faulted the composition of the panel, which had no representative from the DSS. He never forgave all those who made input into the composition of the panel.
“The impunity with which he overruled Buhari on the eligibility of Ibrahim Magu as a nominee for the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) with ambiguous security reports shocked the government. The Senate relied on DSS reports to reject Magu twice. There was obvious poor cohesion in this administration.
“When the President appointed VP Osinbajo to head a panel to probe the $43.45million recovered at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos, Daura disagreed with some recommendations in the committee’s report and raised a curious memo citing why security funds cannot be probed. At a point, Buhari alluded publicly to Daura’s representation.”
Responding to a question, the source added that “the saddest moment for Buhari and his deputy was the unauthorised sting operations on the homes of Supreme Court justices by DSS operatives. A perplexed Buhari could not justify the arrest of the justices when a former Chief Justice of Nigeria, Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Justice Mahmud Mohammed met with him on the incident.
“There was no intelligence report made available to the President or VP Osinbajo; no pre-operation briefing, and when he was confronted, Daura reminded Buhari that there was a presidential verbal directive that he should do anything to fight corruption.
“Although it was convenient to overrule Daura but the President allowed the judges to go through the judicial process instead of using fiat to reverse the DSS.
“The same impunity applies to the disobedience of court orders on ex-NSA Sambo Dasuki and Ibrahim el-Zakzaky and detention of a journalist, Jones Abiri. Daura cited security reasons for his action.
“After his long medical trip to London, the President once asked Daura if Dasuki was still in detention. He justified Dasuki’s detention by claiming that the ex-NSA was only freed on one of the matters in court. He said he had more legal hurdles to cross.
“When there was too much noise on El-Zakyzaky’s prolonged detention without trial, the DSS quickly arranged a parade of the old man to prove that he was doing well.
“The raid of a former DG of DSS, Col. Kayode Are, in an inhuman manner was said to have smacked of vengeance because Daura was in service when Are led the agency.
“The 2018 International Press Institute(IPI) World Congress in June was expected to fetch some mileage for President Muhammadu Buhari but the President was shocked when IPI Executive Board Chair John Yearwood demanded the release of a detained journalist, Jones Abiri in Nigeria by the DSS since July 2016.
“Some ministers denied that any journalist was detained until the picture became clearer that Abiri was in DSS gulag.”
The source attributed the removal of Daura to lack of synergy among security agencies, especially between the National Security Adviser
“He does not have respect for the National Security Adviser, Gen. Mohammed Babagana Monguno and he refused to report, to him while in office. This caused a huge gap in inter-security agencies’ coordination.
His irreconcilable differences with Monguno got to a stage that a former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Amb. Ayo Oke, had to intervene on why they should forgive each other to ensure a seamless security coordination. The two security chiefs agreed to work together but the truce collapsed, The Nation learnt.
Daura’s outstanding moments were in securing freedom for Chibok and Dapchi girls, but there were issues on the negotiation, with insurgents.
“When a journalist with Daily Independent, Tony Ezimakor, reported the issues on the international dimension to the negotiation, the DSS wasted no time in detaining him.
“In the past two weeks, some organizations had been advertising in some dailies to ask the Presidency to revisit the negotiations.”
The source also alleged that Daura had allegedly tried to interfere with the investigation of some high-profile suspects, scuh a former Chief of Army Staff, by the EFCC.
He was also accused of pettiness on security issues. “The crux of the matter between the DSS and EFCC bordered on moves by the former to cause a stay of action on some cases. At a point, the DG became uncomfortable that Magu was not taking instructions from him.
The battle line was drawn between Daura and Magu when the EFCC started probing the tenure of a former DG of DSS, Mr. Ita Ekpenyong, and discovered that Ekpenyong left huge funds in the accounts of the agency, contrary to the allegation that he diverted same. Daura felt Magu was after him because he was introduced to the President by the NSA.
“Even when peace was initiated, he told Magu that his rank was not worth more than an Assistant Superintendent of Police in DSS cadre. Also, he reminded Magu that he wrote the position paper which led to the establishment of EFCC and he coordinated the take-off of the anti-graft commission.
“It was the same venom with which he opposed the clearance of Magu by the Senate. As if he was not done with the Acting EFCC chairman, an operative stopped him a few weeks ago from joining the President at the mosque at the Presidential Villa based on orders from the DSS headquarters.
“The same ill-treatment was meted out to Sen. Ali Ndume when he was prevented from praying at the mosque by DSS.
“As we speak, the accreditation of a journalist with The Punch, Olalekan Adetayo, has not been restored because of security reasons cited by DSS DG in spite of intervention by some media aides.
“At intelligence meetings with top editors, Daura assumed unusual airs. He once told editors that if he wanted to cause a crisis in Nigeria, he can do it within five minutes.
The source explained that in the last few months, the Presidency had been uncomfortable with Daura when it discovered that he had been very close to a principal officer of the National Assembly.
“President Buhari initially ignored the alleged romance between Daura and the principal officer until it became evident that the officer and his loyalists have more intelligence about government than meet the eye.”
Our correspondent could not locate where Daura was detained after his arrest. But a reliable source said: “The initial steps taken by the Presidency was to disarm Daura because a DG of DSS has a lot of arms and ammunition under his control.
“He was arrested and detained to enable the police and other agencies to mop up arms and ammunition under his care. “All I can tell you is that he is in a safe location.”