Wednesday, December 1, 2021

How presidency cabal out-smarted Osinbajo in NIA DG’s appointment

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Ibrahim Sha’aban
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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Fresh insights, giving clearer picture into the circumstances surrounding the appointment of Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, have emerged.

The facts chronicled the controversies that the appointment had sparked and the time bomb it may ignite in both political and security circles.

The appointment, seen as a clear-cut act of short-changing other parts of the country and enthroning incompetence on the altar of personal gains, has continued to receive widespread condemnation across the country.

Inside sources revealed that the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, had wanted his friend and classmate, Ambassador Folorinsho Otukoya to be the next D-G of the agency but was out-smarted by cabal that dictates the affairs of the country.

A source who preferred not to be named said the VP almost nearly appointed Mr Otukoya when he was acting president. “The VP almost appointed Ambassador Otukoya but was advised against it on the premise that the president did not read the report on Ikoyi saga.

Earlier, the VP dismissed the possibility of appointing Mr Abubakar for being part of the review committee and from the same region and state with the president.

“VP is bitter, Tinubu and Akande too. The South West APC leaders are not happy with Mr Abubakar’s appointment.

“For example, to placate North East, President Buhari appointed Boss Mustafa as SGF to replace Babachir Lawal, but Ayo Oke was not replaced by someone from the South West in particular or South in general.

“Another dent that Abubakar brought to the NIA is his exposure to politics,” he said.

A top spymaster who pleaded not to be named argued that “a politically-exposed person with clear political alliance should not only be the D-G of NIA but also employee of the agency.”

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There is also dual nationality question dangling on the new D-G’s head, with security sources saying he was born and schooled in Chad.

“It is public knowledge that Abubakar was born and raised in Chad. Abubakar’s father and mother lived and died in Chad, and a number of his close relations still live in the country.

“In puncturing the narratives that his uncle raised him in Chad, one asks why would a young boy of primary school age attend primary school in Chad if his parents were not residents there.

“Was his parents on diplomatic mission in Chad that they enrolled him in a school at Port-Lamy, Ndjamena? The answer is capital NO.

“If Abubakar was actually taken to Chad by his uncle who went there to seek Islamic studies and scholarship, how come then that he ended-up, putting him in a Western Education school in Chad?

“It is an irony for an Almajiri to take his (baby) Abubakar away from the comfort of his parents’ home at that tender age, and take him to far away Chad, with all the harsh conditions and hostile environment, just to end up enrolling him into a primary school,” added the source.

The whole saga started last year when the operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, discovered a large amount of local and foreign currencies 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.

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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.

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.

Also, 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 the substantive D-G of NIA 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, until his appointment, served as the president’s Arabic and French interpreter,

DAILY NIGERIAN learnt that the circumstances that surrounded the emergence of Mr Abubakar as the D-G NIA involved a lot of muscle flexing among the presidency cabal.

According to an inside source who is also conversant with the workings of the secret agencies, “in an ideal sense, a review was not supposed to be convoked.”

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However, the source revealed that Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari convinced the president to set up a review committee in order to weed out the VP’s candidate. Successfully so, his ploy saw the light of the day as,

“Amb. Dauda served as the interim DG for 56 days. But the cabal instantly dismissed Ambassador Dauda, saying he is too rigid and may not play the ball in the election season.

“It is a kind of tug of war and they believe Amb. Dauda could not stand it,” said the source.

He said instead of President Buhari to redeem the image of the agency by appointing competent hands with no questionable background or political exposure to man the agency, the president is creating another round of controversy, scandal and exposure to public scrutiny around the beleaguered agency.

It could be recalled that this newspaper authoritatively reported how the same presidency cabal, allegedly remote-controlled by the president’s nephew, Mamman Daura, was behind the appointment of Mr Abubakar.

“That the agency has about $44m extra-budgetary intervention in its vaults is enough reason for them to impose their lackey in order to have control over one of the nation’s ‘cash cows’.

“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.

However, effort to reach the spokesman of the Vice President, Laolu Akande, before filling in this report proved abortive as he did not answer both his calls and a text message sent to him seeking for his reaction.

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