By Alkali Danjuma
Almost six months after President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Mr. Ahmed Rufai Abubakar as the head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), tempers that trailed the action seem to be simmering over what was seen as gross injustice to Ambassador Muhammed Dauda, the man who legitimately ought to hold the office.
While Dauda has been licking his wounds in silence and pursuing justice with a calculated calm, the roles played by certain individuals, including Ambassador Babagana Kingibe and his Kanuri kinsman, Abba Kyari in foisting Abubakar on the NIA for open vindictive reasons have remained a sore on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Kingibe and Kyari only used President Buhari as an alibi to advance their ethnic agenda against the minorities back home in Borno. Dauda’s sack to many observers from his native place of birth in Biu, were quick to observe that the involvement of Kingibe and Kyari may not be unconnected with ethno sectional struggles amongst the dominant Kanuri tribe and Ambassador Dauda’s Babur minorities back home in Borno.
It seems the duo of Kyari and Kingibe have much entrenched their interests in Buhari’s Government, such that they try to suppress the emergence of any possible counterforce from other Borno citizens, especially from other ethnic groups of the southern part, who are non-Kanuri speaking.
The plan to ‘capture’ the NIA was a deliberate and comprehensive one that was well planned, both Ambassadors Yadam and Dauda were not really slated as substantive Director Generals. They were merely called in to fill a transitionary gap. After the cabal decided to remove Amb Ayo Oke and replace him with Ahmed Rufai Abubakar in April 2017, the issue of what to do with Amb. Yadam, who was then the most senior came up and it was decided that he should be allowed to act until November 2017, when he will retire on age, A.R Abubakar will thereafter just be announced conveniently.
However, an unforseen and unexpected twist came up, when the Vice President came up with his own plan to replace Amb Oke with a Yoruba man, which was seen as a fair deal (taking into consideration that it was their kinsman that was removed, since the DGSS and NSA are both Northerners. He then brought two names; Ambassadors Otukoya and Ladipo (both former Directors of NIA), for consideration. This sudden ‘ambush’ by the VP therefore necessitated an urgent need for plan B. to checkmate the VP. It was actually the plan B that brought Amb Dauda into the picture.
They will recommend the setting up of a Presidential Review Panel (PRP) to buy time so Amb Dauda (the most senior Director) will be brought to fill in the gap being the most senior Director. They know that bringing him will douse the issue of replacing Amb Oke with a Yoruba man, since his emergence will appear to be in line with the normal traditional transitional change of baton, from one DG to the other. But the plan did not stop there, AR Abubakar will still be made the DG, after time has taken care of the Yoruba concern. Amb. Dauda while Acting as the DG, will be quickly replaced by a fellow Kanuri kinsman (prematurely recalled from Washington). A win win situation, as there will now be three Kanuri Ambassadors in NIA alone. Mallam Rufai Abubakar will then be quietly announced as DG of NIA, using his advantage as a Katsina indigene who is already known to the President.
So in summary, it seemed that Mallam AR Abubakar was actually appointed surreptitiously sometime in March or April 2017, with neither the consent nor recommendations of NSA, as required by law. All these while, he was just waiting for the plan to play out. This will then leave Dauda with two choices, to serve under Abubakar (his distant junior) or retire from service.”
Ahmed Rufai Abubakar joined the NIA, as Junaid Muhammad put it in the Guardian interview of 17th January, 2018, by accident. The reason he was said to have joined the NIA by accident was because there was supposed to be a meeting of what they called Nigeria/Niger commission and unfortunately the then DG of NIA did not make arrangement for interpreters from Lagos, when the summit was slated to hold in Kaduna.
So they identified Ahmed Rufai who was in Katsina and could communicate fluently in French. He was then picked purposely to serve as an interpreter for the occasion. After that, the then NIA DG, who was a Katsina man decided to induct and recruit him into the NIA. Stories coming in from the NIA suggest to us that, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar may have been improperly recruited into the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, having been brought in from the Katsina State Civil Service on GL level 12. Instead of placing him one step down to GL. 10 as required for officers joining the Federal Civil Service from the states, he was moved to GL.14, three clear steps ahead of his contemporaries.
This was supposedly done on the instrumentality of his godfather, the then Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ibrahim, Talban Katsina (and a member of the Kingibe PRP). This discriminatory policy was sold to the Talban by one Mustapha Betara Aliyu, who wanted some favors from Ambassador Ibrahim. As a reward for his role in helping Rufai at that time, Mustapha Betara Aliyu (apparently led by envy, poverty and desperation to betray his lifelong friend and colleague) has since been appointed as a Special Assistant /Adviser to the DG (birds of the same feather surely flock together). Sources say he is already making maneuvers to return to the NIA having been forced to leave for failing promotion examinations like his godson principal.
Alhaji Abubakar Rufai Ahmed, Director General of the National Intelligence Agency is not a stranger to controversies. It is well known and widely circulated in the media that from the circumstances surrounding his birth and upbringing, through his academics to his eventual recruitment into the NIA, doubts and contentions have remained recurring decimals. While he admitted in his resume that he was born and bred in Chad, some people want Nigerians to believe that he was born and bred in Nigeria.
References to the Instrument that established the NIA known as Instrument No. NIA 1 Under the NATIONAL SECURITY AGENCIES DECREE 1986 (Capt. 278). Under ACCOUNTABILITY AND CODE OF CONDUCT article 10 subsection (b), states clearly that the establishment and maintenance of a system of independent (cradle to retirement) vetting of staff at recruitment stage and periodic re-vetting throughout the carrier of the staff of the agency, were a sin qua non. But that was completely ignored since the benefactors of the current DG refused to allow the vetting team to go to Chad where he himself admitted that he spent most of his childhood days and early education. Also there was no re-vetting when he suddenly resurfaced as the Director General of the NIA as required by law.
His appointment was greeted with resistance because people felt he was a judge in his own case having served as the secretary to a Presidential Review panel that recommended strict procedures for the emergence of a substantive Director General of the NIA. It is not surprising that the controversies have culminated into series of court cases by civil society groups, and even by Ambassador Dauda himself. This is even as there have been hues and cries in the media, and by imminent personalities all of whom are accusing President Muhammadu Buhari of encouraging mediocrity and nepotism. That the new NIA boss retired from the civil service unceremoniously for failing his promotion examinations to director grade thrice, have never been dispelled. Now, to head the very agency that he was forced to leave because he couldn’t pass exams was what many people regarded as an anathema.
The NIA system stipulates that where one fails examination thrice, one would be asked to go. This was the principle that saw the back of Abubakar Rufai at the organization, having failed to pass his promotion examination to the next cadre. Even though the presidency had denied this allegation on his behalf, they haven’t shown any document to prove otherwise, or explain the circumstances which led to his premature ouster from the agency.
It is common knowledge that while the DG, was forced out of the NIA some years back, owing to his failure to pass his promotional exams to the directorate cadre three times, against the background that the circumstances and processes of his recruitment into the NIA were controversial and contentious, it remains baffling to so many people how a failure could work his way back and become the boss in the face of perceived strict web of procedures. It is even curious to the global intelligence community that a Government which prides itself as the apex of incorruptibility and integrity, ignored its own rules, and entangled President Buhari into such complex web of intrigues and a callous miscalculation.
Opinions across the board indicate that Nigerians are not happy with his appointment for such reasons like: What was the reason for the deviation from the 32 years seamless tradition of leadership transition order of the NIA, the attendant implication is that the President can tomorrow decide to appoint a retired Brigadier as Chief of Army Staff or a retired Commissioner of Police as IGP. The President ignored the enabling law that established the NIA, and went ahead to appoint a DG without the recommendations of the NSA as required by law, He also ignored the recommendations of a committee, he set up purposely to reposition the Agency for better efficiency and service delivery, by appointing Rufai.
It will be recalled that the Presidential Review Panel (PSP), headed by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe recommended in Paragraph 4. (a) “that the DG shall be appointed among the Corp of Serving Directors”. From the foregoing, Rufai clearly was never a Director and certainly not serving, which makes it morally and ethically wrong for the Secretary of the PSP to end up as the beneficiary of his own assignment.
Other posers raised includes, why the barrage of allegations made against the New DG were never investigated, before the confirmation of his appointment? Some feel it was a matter of fait accompli, irrespective of whatever comes out of any investigation that the EFCC or the National Assembly may conduct. While others were curious as to why Ambassador Dauda was removed in the first instance and subsequently dismissed even when he did not commit any offence, neither was he found to be inefficient or wanting on the job.
An aggrieved staff of the agency who craved anonymity also revealed that the appointment itself was illegal, as it falls short of The NIA instruments, which vested the power of the appointment of the DG in the President on the recommendations of the NSA (As contained under the appointment of DG article 3 subsections 1, 2,and 3) and not under the office of the Chief of Staff as it is now. Legally, the office of Chief of Staff to the President has no role at all in the appointment or running of any arm of government, there is also no mention of that office at all in any part thereof or even in the National Securities Agencies Act (CAPT 278) of 1986.
It is therefore disturbing why the Buhari administration has refused to deal with Kingibe, Abba Kyari and Rufai despite these weighty allegations of corruption against them. With all these anomalies and others too numerous to mention, the anti-corruption fight is now generally being perceived by so many Nigerians as insincere, biased and selective.
The questions Nigerians are now asking is, does President Buhari know that the NIA boss, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, failed his promotional exams before he appointed him to head the same organization that kicked him out? Does he also know that the NIA boss was involved in the scheme to muscle Ambassador Mohammed Dauda into giving the NIA intervention funds to perceived corrupt individuals now in charge of affairs in the NIA? Events in the coming days may give insights.
…Alkali Danjuma is the Publisher of The Canary Newspaper, Kaduna
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