President Muhammadu Buhari has fired Abdulrahman Mani, his chief security officer (CSO), over what insiders described as “shady deals” in fixing appointments and for “undermining” the president. Presidency sources told TheCable that Mani committed various misdemeanours, “chief among which was a recent discovery that he was actually the one who leaked Buhari’s itinerary to Diezani Alison-Madueke when he travelled to London in May”. Alison-Madueke, then minister of petroleum resources, had surprisingly travelled on the same British Airways flight with Buhari, sitting in the same cabin and right behind the then president-elect. The former minister normally flew private jets in and outside the country and her presence on the flight was not considered a coincidence. It was alleged that she wanted to curry the favour of Buhari following a series of allegations of corruption against her, although her aides denied the claim, maintaining that she was on a private trip for her son’s graduation.
“Investigations also revealed that Mani has been actively undermining the president, working against every value the president upholds and conducting himself in such a manner as to suggest that he is out to pull down the president,” the source told TheCable. Mani was appointed Buhari’s CSO after the presidential election in March, although he had been organising security for Buhari since 2011. Buhari also fired Widi Liman, his administrative officer, who was said to be hand-in-gloves with Mani in turning securing appointments with the president into a “business venture”. Bashir Abubakar is the new CSO to the president while Mani has been redeployed to Ebonyi state. Abubakar was until now an assistant director in the Bayelsa state command of the Department of State Service (DSS). Liman, who is yet to be replaced, was a close aide to governor of Kaduna state, Nasir el-Rufai, while he was FCT minister. He has been transferred to Oyo state command of the DSS. CSO vs ADC: Battle for supremacy Prior to his sack, Mani had been engaged in a battle of supremacy with the ADC to the president, Mohammed Abubakar, a lieutenant colonel. Apparently acting on the orders of Buhari, Abubakar had issued a memo barring DSS personnel from locations inside the presidential villa, stating that the armed forces and the police, trained as presidential body guards (PBGs), were to “provide close/immediate protection for Mr. President henceforth”. He warned that DSS personnel should stay away from specific areas in the premises including “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”. Abubakar said DSS personnel would man other duty beats and locations located within the immediate outer perimeter of the presidential villa “alongside other security forces”. Mani, perhaps unaware that Abubakar was carrying out the president’s instructions, issued a counter circular directing the DSS personnel to disregard the order and saying that the relevant statutes give DSS the responsibility of close protection for the president. He argued: “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. “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.” Buhari had become uncomfortable with the DSS for their perceived partisanship before the general election. Ita Ekpeyong resigned as the DG of DSS on Thursday amid reports that he was forced out, while Lawan Daura was appointed to replace him in an acting capacity.