Wednesday, December 1, 2021

EXCLUSIVE: Why Presidency cabal imposed Buhari’s interpreter as D-G of NIA

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Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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Facts have emerged as to why President Muhammadu Buhari approved the appointment of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the substantive Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, despite concerns over his alleged incompetence, Chadian citizenship issue and negation of federal character.

On April 12, 2017, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, discovered a humongous haul of local and foreign currencies to the tune of $43.4m, £27,800 and N23.2m at a four-bedroom apartment on the 7th floor at Osborne Towers, located at 16 Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.

The then Director-General of the NIA, Ayo Oke, later owned up to the seizure, saying the money belonged to the agency.

A week after the EFCC’s discovery, the president suspended Mr Oke and ordered a full-scale investigation into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether there was a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

Following the president’s directive that the most senior officer in the NIA should take charge as the acting director-general, Nigeria’s ambassador to Chad in person of Mohammed Dauda was recalled to take charge as D-G in acting capacity.

A three-man committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, with Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, as members was set up by the president.

Following the submission of the Osinbajo-committee report, the president appointed a review panel headed by Babagana Kingibe, a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation. Three former directors of the NIA, Albert Horsfall, Zakari Ibrahim and Ezekiel Oladeji served as members, while Senior Special Assistant to the President on Foreign Affairs/International Relations and now substantive D-G of NIA, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, served as the secretary.

Less than a month after submission of the Kingibe panel report, the president curiously appointed Mr Abubakar as the substantive director-general of the agency, sparking debates that the new external security boss was not competent enough to head the agency.

Mr Abubakar, who until his appointment served as the president’s Arabic and French interpreter, joined the NIA from the service of Katsina State under Zakari Ibrahim in the mid 90s and resigned after failure to pass promotion exam twice.

“He was a Level 12 officer in Katsina Civil Service when, in a controversial transfer of service, the then DG Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim offered him Level 14 — against the service rule. 

“He sat promotion exams twice and failed. So he voluntarily retired in 2013 to avoid sack,” alleged a source familiar with the inner working of the nation’s external security outfit.

After his resignation from service, Mr Abubakar was engaged by Mr Kingibe to be his assistant during his peace missions in some crisis-ridden African regions due to his (Mr Abubakar’s) bilingual advantage.

DAILY NIGERIAN also gathered from informed sources that the new D-G was born in Chad Republic and had his primary and secondary education in the same central African country.

There have been fears in the security circle that a person with dual citizenship should not be made the head of the country’s spy agency.

“Chad has not been cooperating with Nigeria on Boko Haram crisis in the Lake Chad region. How could a Chadian citizen, whose many siblings and relations live in Chad head this strategic agency?

“It is also not right to appoint the heads of Nigeria’s internal and external security outfits from one state, Katsina. The acting D-G, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda should either be retained — going by his experience and good service track-record — or appoint someone from the South to balance our diversity.

“But appointing these key security chiefs from the president’s state is the height of nepotism. And the fact of the matter is that the president is not helping matters regarding the unity of this country.

“This position should have gone to the South East zone as the region is tactically edged out of the security architecture of the country,” said the security source.

Inside sources also told DAILY NIGERIAN that the presidency cabal, allegedly remote-controlled by the president’s nephew, Mamman Daura, is behind the appointment of Mr Abubakar, saying the agency has about $44m extra-budgetary intervention in its vaults.

“Apart from the $43m Ayo Oke hid in Osborne Towers apartment, some forces are interested in getting a share in the $44m quarantined in the NIA vaults,” added the source.

The source stated further that the president’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and Messrs Kingibe and Zakari Ibrahim imposed their lackey in order to have control over one of the nation’s “cash cows” despite concerns over his dual citizenship and alleged incompetence.

Presidential spokesman Garba Shehu neither answered a call nor replied a text message sent to him seeking the reaction of the Presidency to this story.

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