The Silent Battle For Control And Sustenance Of Position Among Security Details At The Presidential Villa Becomes Nasty, Beastly

Tony Ailemen, Abuja

A directive allegedly given by President Muhammadu Buhari to his AideDe-Camp (ADC), Lt. Col. Mohammed Abubakar, to the effect that only men of the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) be allowed to provide personal security to him, resulted in near fistcuffs yesterday.

The directive, which was sent through a memo, has been the source of uneasy calm at the Villa, as men of the Directorate of State Security Service (SSS), who normally provide such security around Mr. President, had sworn to disregard it.

The Union learnt that but for the quick intervention of the President’s Aide-de-Camp, who was on hand, more damages would have been done as both groups refused to shift grounds.

Lt. Col. Abubakar had in a recent memo ordered the DSS personnel out of the President’s residence and offices, restricting them only to the gates at Presidential Villa. But a statement signed by the President’s Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, denied that any such order existed.

Adesina had said no directive was given expelling SSS operatives from the Villa. In the said memo, Abubakar stated that only Armed Forces and the police, trained as Presidential Body Guards (PBGs), were to “provide close/immediate protection for Mr. President henceforth.”

He warned the DSS personnel to stay away from areas such as “Admin Reception, Service Chiefs Gate, Residence Reception, Rear Resident, Resident Gate, Office Reception, C-In-C Control Office, ACADE Gate, C-IN-C Control Gate and Panama”.

Not comfortable with the instruction, Chief Security Officer (CSO) to the President, Abdularahman Mani, himself a DSS official, issued a counter memo directing his men to disregard the ADC’s order saying that the relevant statutes gives DSS the responsibility of close protection for the president.

In the said memo, he argued that “though further actions have been initiated in this regard, including routine redeployment of close body guards out of the villa, and deployment of new ones, it is important to state that the duties hitherto performed by the personnel of the DSS (SSS) in the Presidential Villa and/ or any other Key Vulnerable Points (KVPs) are backed by relevant Statutes and Gazetted Instruments of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”. He added that “among others, these roles include close body protection of the President in line with standard operational procedures and international best practices.

“For the avoidance of doubt, Section 2 (1) (ii) of Instrument No. SSS 1 of 23rd May, 1999, made pursuant to Section 6 of the National Security Agencies (NSA) decree of 1986 which 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 including, but not limited to the President and Vice-President as well as members of their immediate families.

“It also mandates the DSS to provide protective security for sensitive installations such as the Presidential Villa and visiting foreign dignitaries. For this reason, personnel of the DSS who are on this schedule are carefully selected and properly trained both locally and abroad. Furthermore, continued background checks are maintained on them to confirm suitability and loyalty.

“In fact, the issues raised in the aforementioned 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 cordons around venues and routes.

“However, all over other security agencies including the army, the police and others 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 statutory prescribed responsibilities.”

Following this memo, the DSS men, who attempted to obey the new directives, were however prevented from entering the areas earlier designated as forbidden for them resulting in the near fisticuffs which was however averted albeit temporarily.

As at the time of filing this report, Villa officials were seeking ways of creating a harmonious working relationship between the two warring security outfits.

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