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Anxiety Hits Nigeria’s Security Circles as Kingibe, Ibrahim and Horsefall Storm NIA HQ

…As Osinbajo report indicts past NIA DGs.

Even though the report of the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo panel which investigated NIA’s  $$43.4 million stashed in an Ikoyi private apartment has not been made public, this much is certain; all but one of the past National Intelligent Agency (NIA) Director-Generals were indicted.  Specifically, they were indicted for their curious tradition of warehousing large sums of money under their personal control, thus making it difficult for transparency to take root within the agency.

Ostensibly, to inject new life into the agency, President Muhammadu Buhari last weekend appointed a new Director General and a three-man team (Ambassadors Babagana Kingibe, Zakari Ibrahim and Niyi Oladeji) was appointed from outside the agency to supervise its activities. Insiders say this is a recipe for chaos as no DG worth his salt would fully cooperate with the team. This has increased the anxiety that has recently seeped into the (NIA).  It has also set off alarm bells nationally and internationally as national security watchers said the development forebodes trouble for the Nigerian intelligence sector, especially now when the country faces massive intelligence challenges in several parts of the country.

Perhaps to stem this tide and reassure the officers and staff at the NIA, the team of Kingibe, Ibrahim, Oladeji and the first NIA DG, Albert K. Horsefall stormed the NIA headquarters, Abuja, Thursday evening between 5 pm and 7.3 pm.  They met with only the Directors, demanding full compliance with their directives or recalcitrant NIA officers would reap career-threatening consequences. 

The team visited the NIA just to quell the disquiet which resulted from the appointment of a three-man panel for the review of the activities in the service. This unease too, is consequent upon last week’s unannounced easing out of Ambassador Arab Yadam, as Director General of NIA because he fell out with the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari over professional and monetary management of the agency.  Now, the developments have divided the highly regarded and internationally respected NIA, Nigeria’s equivalent of the American CIA or the British M16.  

Yedam’s loyalists are still smarting from the way the immediate past Acting DG was unceremoniously removed, especially as he was denied the mandatory three months in the NIA Act to enable an out-going DG handover seamlessly to an in-coming one. They are also angry at the ill-treatment meted out to Horsefall by bringing the old man on that Thursday visit to NIA headquarters.  They felt it was unconscionable to bring the founding DG (1986 to 1990) to the former office where he had served most creditably when it is public knowledge that he was suffering from “senility and dementia” just because some people want to use the prestige of his name and reputation to gain unprofessional control of the NIA, and corner the agency’s newly discovered but unpublicized $250m slush fund. Horsefall is also a PDP card-carrying member and close confidant and mentor to former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Ostensibly to redirect the NIA boat after the Ikoyi-gate scandal, Ambassador Mohammed Dawuda was last weekend appointed as the agency’s Director General. Even before his appointment, the struggle for control in Aso Rock got to a head as the Chief of Staff to the President, Mallam Abba Kyari, moved to clip the wings of the incoming DG by limiting his role and powers to operational matters only.   But to many NIA operatives this means that the new Acting DG, Ambassador Dawuda, Nigeria’s immediate past Ambassador to Chad, has already been handicapped.

To effectively do this, Mallam Kyari set up a team of three of  Ambassadors  Kingibe, Ibrahim and Oladeji  (they were often called upon by the Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo panel to make input into the report of the investigation concerning the tenure of Ambassador Ayo Oke, which ended in the scandalous discovery of huge sums of money stashed inside 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos, luxury apartment).

It is yet to be seen how the Babagana Kingibe-led committee will commence its work in the light of hostilities by the professional cadre of the highly respected operatives in the service who view Amb. Yedam as a paragon of professional excellence. The operatives are agitated that Yedam’s greatest failure in the eyes of Abba Kyari was that he refused to promote a top Aso Rock presidential aide (Buhari’s present Director of Protocol, Lawal Kazaure) to the position of NIA Director even though the man clearly failed his promotion examination many times, including an attempt last month.

Most of all, the NIA rank and file see it as a crude joke that two members of the three-man panel to reorganize the agency were its past Directors. This is because even though the Osinbajo panel report has not been made public, it is common knowledge at the NIA that the report indicted all but one past DG; Gen. Haliru Akilu (rtd), who succeeded Horsefall.  Kingibe, who was not a past head of the agency, was known to have been heavily involved in running the NIA during Ambassador Ayo Oke’s watch. Oke was once a First Secretary to Kingibe when he was Nigeria’s Ambassador to Pakistan in the 1980s. In fact, Kingibe has long been known to have President Buhari’s ears in matters of foreign affairs and diplomacy.

Also, agency reports on Monday said that Amb. Ibrahim, from Katsina state, remains a close-confidant of the immediate past President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan and he has been said to be a card-carrying member of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP).  It also said that “in certain circles, Ambassador Niyi Oladeji, Oke’s immediate predecessor, is derisively referred to as Dame Patience Jonathan’s personal cashier”. So both are close to Jonathan.

The NIA operatives are worried that the agency has now lost its independence to President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari who put together the three-man team of Kingibe, Ibrahim  and Oladeji and so the team will also report to him. So he and his team will control NIA funds, especially the $250m newly discovered slush fund, now that plans are on to massively purchase cars for Ambassadors, have a say in staff promotion, capital projects and it will be only a matter of time before it will clash with the new DG.


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