Conflicting Signals over President Buhari’s Security

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President Buhari at work

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President Muhammadu Buhari’s security officials continue to issue conflicting signals regarding which arm of the security agencies should provide close protection to him

THE rivalry among the security agencies over which arm of the security agencies should provide close protect to President Muhammadu Buhari is far from over. At the weekend, another conflicting signal came out from the office of the chief security officer, CSO, to the President reversing the order previously given by the Lt. Col. Lawal Abubakar, Aide-De-Camp, ADC to the president, stopping the Department of State Security from closely protecting the president.

In a memo dated June 26, 2015, Abdulrahman Mani, CSO to President, directed the DSS operatives to disregard the directive from Abubakar because it was a misrepresentation of Buhari’s directive. Mani’s memo came on the heels of the one issue last Wednesday by the President’s ADC, redeploying the DSS officials from 10 beats that they had previously manned inside the Presidential Villa as part of efforts to enhance general security within the Villa. He also directed the personnel of the Armed Forces and the Nigeria Police to take over the DSS officials’ duties of providing “close/immediate protection” for the president with immediate effect.

Shortly after the ADC’s memo became public, Femi Adesina, special adviser to the president on Media and publicity, also issued a statement last week, saying Buhari has not ordered the expulsion of the DSS officials from the Presidential Villa. He also admitted that a reorganisation of security at Aso Rock was underway.

However, the CSO’s memo which was obtained by Punch on Sunday, June 28, directed the DSS officials to disregard the ADC’s order because the duties being performed by the DSS personnel in the Presidential Villa were backed by relevant statutes and gazetted instruments. These roles include close body protection of the President in line with standard operational procedures and international best practices.

Abdulrahman Mani
Mani

According to him, Section 2(I )(ii) of Instrument No.SSS 1 of May 23, 1999, made pursuant to Section 6 of the National Security Agencies Decree of 1986, has been re-enacted as Section 6 of NSA Act CAP N74 LFN 2004 empowers personnel of the DSS to provide protective security for designated principal government functionaries. The functionaries include but not limited to the President and Vice President as well as members of their immediate families. The law also mandates the DSS to provide protective security for sensitive installations such as the Presidential Villa and visiting foreign dignitaries.

The CSO said it was for that reason that the personnel of the DSS near the President were carefully selected and properly trained and that background checks were constantly carried out on them to confirm their suitability and loyalty.

“In fact, the issues raised in the aforementioned (ADC’s) circular tend to suggest that the author may have ventured into a not-too-familiar terrain. The extant practice, the world over, is that VIP protection, which is a specialised field, is usually handled by the Secret Service, under whatever nomenclature. They usually constitute the inner core security ring around every principal. The police and the military by training and mandate are often required to provide secondary and tertiary security cordons around venues and routes,” the memo said.

However, it said that “all other security agencies, including the army, the police and others, also have their roles to play. It is on this note that heads of all security agencies currently in the Presidential Villa and their subordinates are enjoined to key into the existing command and control structure. They are to work in harmony with each other in full and strict compliance with the demands of their statutorily prescribed responsibilities.

According to the memo, “joint training programmes and other incentives will be worked out in the days ahead to ensure that all security personnel at the Presidential Villa are properly educated to understand their statutory roles and responsibilities. This is with a view to avoiding obvious grandstanding, overzealousness, limited knowledge or outright display of ignorance in future.”

Mani asked all the unit and departmental heads to bring the content of his memo to the attention of all personnel for compliance. The memo was copied to the national security adviser; chief of defense staff and director-general of DSS.

However, Punch on Monday, June 29, quoted a source saying although the CSO’s directive had been widely circulated it has yet to take effect as the military men drafted to replace the DSS officials were still on their beats. The source blamed a top DSS official in the Presidential Villa for the fuse between the security agencies. He claimed that trouble started when the official ordered that soldiers should be blocked from residence reception. Infuriated by that action, he said the soldiers contacted the ADC who became angry and vowed to report to the President.

“Before that incident, the soldiers have been cooperative and well-behaved. The situation we find ourselves is painful but it is also avoidable,” the source added.

— June 29, 2015 @ 12.00 GMT

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