Politics

FG’s House of Commotion: Acrimony lingers among top govt officials

Accepted that the nation has witnessed disagreements among government functionaries before now, they were far and in-between, often came as cold wars read mostly in gossip magazines.

Certainly, never in Nigeria’s nearly 60-year checkered history, have citizens been treated to the magnitude of commotion, open duels, and public washing of dirty linens, as currently witnessed in the present administration.

Magu vs. DSS 

Ibrahim Magu was appointed the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in November 2015 following the sack of erstwhile Chairman, Ibrahim Lamorde. He was however denied confirmation by the Senate on 15th December 2016 and 15th March 2017. Ironically Senate, Senate’s decision was on security report by the State Security Service in the same presidency, which indicted Magu of corruption and other sundry allegations.

“In the light of the foregoing”, said the report read out by Senator Dino Melaye during a televised screening by the upper chamber, “Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption stand of the current government.

“We do request for [the] screening of every nominee that comes to this Senate by the DSS. It did not start with you and it will not end with you. The DSS is to us what the FBI is (to the USA) and we cannot ridicule, undermine, and put in abeyance, the report of the DSS. Anyone who wants to be chairman of EFCC must have the character and characteristics from the words of Caesar. You must be unblemished, you must be pure, and you must be stainless”, he stressed as Senate turned down his confirmation.

However, President Mohammadu Buhari kept Magu in acting capacity for five years contrary to the provisions of the EFCC Act, hence the blame leveled on President Buhari following the recent allegations against Magu agency.

EFCC Clash vs. DSS, NIA

Armed with superior firepower and operatives, men of the DSS, on Tuesday, 14th November 2017 had a serious public standoff with operatives of the EFCC and police officers, who stormed the No. 46 Nasir Mamman Street, Asokoro, Abuja, the residence of former Directors-General of the DSS, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong, around 6am to arrest him concerning the money allegedly collected by the agency from the office of the embattled former National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd), before the 2015 poll.

The same scenario played out at the residence of the former DG of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Amb. Ayodele Oke, where operatives of the DSS and NIA blocked the EFCC from arresting him over the $43 million found in an Ikoyi apartment.

The report of Senate ad hoc panel that investigated the show of shame indicted the EFCC and Office of the NSA, stated that “there exists an acrimony” between the heads of the agencies, as well as lack of espirit de corps and cohesion also reflected at a secondary level “with the EFCC and the NSA belonging to one group, while the NIA and the DSS belonging to another group”.

“Although the EFCC acted within the ambit of the law by obtaining all the relevant search warrants from the court of law (in a bid to arrest these security officers), the commission failed to obtain authorisation from the NSA or the President in accordance with Section 4 of National Security Agency Act, Cap 74 LFN 2004, before obtaining the search warrant”.

“The President and Commander-in-Chief should intervene in the matter with a view to ensuring that inter-agency rivalry or public exhibition of envy is avoided at all costs”, the report read in part.

NSA Vs. Abba Kyari

However, many Nigerians doubt that President Buhari ever called his warring house to order as the nation was treated to another theatre of the absurd when the muted feud between the NSA, Major General Babagana Monguno and his late Chief of Staff, Mallam Abba Kyari in February 2020 spilled into the open vide a leaked 9th December 2019 memo fired by Monguno to the service chiefs. Entitled “Disruption of National Security Framework by Unwarranted Meddlesomeness” Monguno accused Mallam Kyari of issuing directives to them without the knowledge, much less approval of the president.

“Chief of staff to the president is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn to an oath of defending the country. As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with service chiefs and heads of security organisations as well as ambassadors and high commissioners to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising ministers are a violation of the Constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr. President”, Monguno wrote.

Meanwhile, a popular online newspaper (Premium Times) alleged that the immediate cause of the open brawl was a lucrative contract for the procurement of defence equipment for the Nigeria Police Force from the United Arab Emirates. However, Kyari subsequently took ill and died from COVID-19 complications, thus ending the rift.

NSA vs. Lawal Daura

Meanwhile, there was also alleged deep rifts between the former DG DSS, Lawal Daura, and Monguno dating back to 2016. Although Daura was structurally subordinate to Monguno, who is the overall coordinator of national security matters, both men reportedly hardly interacted with one another for years as they were pitched in battle that lasted until Daura’s removal from office August 2018 by the then Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, sequel to the invasion of the National Assembly by hooded men of the DSS.

Abike Dabirivs. Patami 

In May this year, the Chairman of Nigerians in Diaspora Commission (NIDCOM), Mrs. Abike Dabiri-Erewa, and the Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Patami engaged in open media brawls with the former accusing Patami of masterminding the ejection of NIDCOM from a takeoff office space given to it by the National Communications Commission (NCC).

“In one year, we don’t have an office. The office we got, was given to us by NCC, but we were actually driven away by the honourable Minister of Communications and digital economy, Mr Isa Pantami, within two days, they drove us out with guns and what happened?

“I have complained officially. As I speak with you, all our items are locked up. I don’t have a computer, I don’t have printers, everything has been locked up”, a frustrated Abike said, while also accusing the Minister of chauvinism.

However, in his tweeter reaction, Patami accused Abike of telling ‘a fat lie”.

“The owner of the building @NgComCommission has faulted her lies on their social media platforms. We need to be very objective in reporting. I have never sent any gunmen there, and I have none”.

However, NIDCOM was quick to dismiss the Minister’s claims. It is doubtful that NIDCOM has gotten another office to carry out its functions.

Police Service Commission vs. IGP Adamu

The Police Service Commission (PSC) has also been embroiled in a faceoff with the Inspector-General of Police, IGP, Mohammed Adamu, over the recruitment of 10,000 constables.

But speaking with State House correspondents after presenting the 2018 report of the Commission to President Buhari on 17th September 2019, the Chairman of PSC, Mr. Musliu Smith, a retired IGP, said they briefed the President, who called for truce, promising to intervene.

Ironically, not long after that, the Commission was in the Federal High Court, Abuja Division where it sued the IGP and the AGF over the same matter, showing that if the President ever intervened, his intervention did not work.

But ruling on the matter on 2nd December 2019, Justice Inyang Ekwo dismissed the case for lack of merit, stating that the rights to enlist constables located in Section 71 of the Nigeria Police Service Regulations is in the IGP and not the PSC.

Magu vs. Malami 

It has been an open secret that there has never been any love lost between Malami and Magu, over the prosecution of the anti-graft war. The feud centred around alleged insubordination, breach of rule of law, lack of transparency and accountability on the side of Magu in the prosecution of the anti-corruption campaign.

But it was the recent arrest, detention, and probe of Magu by a presidential panel based on Malami’s memo that displayed all the feud, alleged corruption, and poor coordination in the President’s anti-graft war. While Nigerians have been regaled with loads of tales on alleged re-looting of recovered loots by Magu and his Boys and fronts, there have equally been efforts by Magu’s camp and sympathisers to hit back at the AGF. Buhari must be disappointed.

Nueni vs. Akpabio

Of late too, former Acting Managing Director of the Interim Management Committee (IMC) of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Ms. Joy Nunieh, and the Minister of the Niger Delta, Senator Godswill Akpabio, have engaged in public brawl. Akpabio threw the first punch by sacking Nueni, accusing her of certificate forgery, insubordination, and of marrying multiple husbands. Nueni too has not spared the chubby Minister, accusing him of humongous sleaze, undue interference, and removing her for trying to safeguard NDDC funds. She equally claimed to have given the Minister a hot slap for harassing her sexually. But while the drama goes on, NDDC bleeds under Buhari’s watch and many have blamed him for unlawfully refusing to swear in a full NDDC board cleared by the Senate.

Aisha vs. the Mamman Dauras

Although the cat and mouse relationship between the First Lady and the Mamman Dauras, Buhari’s nephew, have been discussed in hushed tones, Nigerians were nevertheless shocked to see the video of a palpably raging First Lady complaining about being denied access to her apartment. The video trended in October 2019. While Nigerians still questioned the authenticity, Daura’s daughter owned up on the video, accusing Mrs. Buhari of attacking her inside the presidential villa, adding that she least expected Buhari’s wife to act in a violent manner. However, she told BBC Hausa Service that the incident actually happened in 2017, and not related to fake news on President Buhari getting married to Sadiya Umaru Farouq, minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development.

Aisha Vs. Garba Shehu

Recall also that Mrs. Buhari had openly and on several occasions accused the Senior Special Assistant (Media) to the President, Garba Shehu, among others, of undermining the Office of the First Lady.

In an 11th December 2019 statement, which she personally signed, the First Lady accused Garba of “misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group”, also adding that he had waged “a war on the first family through an orchestrated media campaign of calumny by sponsoring pseudo accounts to write and defame my children and myself”.

Aisha vs. ‘Tunde’ Yusuf

June this year, the Aso Villa also trended for the wrong reasons captured by an online newspaper as “War in Aso Rock”.

The First Lady was reportedly involved in serious squabbles with her husband’s Personal Assistant, Saibu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf following the latter’s refusal to self-isolate for 14 days as prescribed by the extant COVID-19 Protocol in the Villa after a trip to Lagos. Saibu, who is Buhari’s relation, was said to have told the First Lady that the President said he had no need to self-isolate. Mrs. Buhari’s alleged attempt to personally enforce the self-isolation protocol, using her security aides, led to a shootout in the Villa.

Her security details were later detained, leading to a statement by Mrs. Buhari asking the IGP to release her details. They were later released and restored.

When Will the Commotions End?

Many Nigerians know that the President must be disappointed at many of these ‘shows’ and expect him to reign in his officials. There also many who have equally lost hope of seeing sanity, proper coordination, and decorum in this administration. They have described it as the most disjointed in Nigeria’s history. But banking on the discipline President Buhari was known for in the military they hope he will still turn around things although it should not be lost on them that the President once observed that democracy accommodates many things and slows action on many developments.

Ngige vs. NSITF Management 

The Minister of Labour, Senator Chris Ngige is currently locked in a free for all with the management of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF). While Ngige suspended the Managing Director of the NSITF, Adedayo Somefun, three directors, and 10 management staff and also set up a panel to probe an alleged N3.4m financial infractions at the agency, the House of Representatives is also probing Ngige for alleged breach of due process in his actions.

Supporting the motion to probe Ngige moved by Hon. Leke Abejide, Hon. James Abiodun Faleke (Lagos:APC) claimed that the Somefun and others were suspended for standing against certain actions by Ngige such as alleged singlehanded alteration of budget lines in the NSITF budget to insert a N2 billion commissioned project; nomination of a contractor that bought all the vehicles for NSITF in 2019 in the sum of N305 million; compelling of the NSITF to purchase for his use a Toyota Land Cruiser and Hilux in 2019, insertion of the purchase of 4 SUVs in 2020 budget; and obtaining of approval signed by his wife, Dr. Ngige, who works at the Office of the Head of Service of the Federation for the nomination of an insurance broker worth N100 million every year, among a deluge of other allegations.

Source: vanguardngr.com