Replaces them with DSS operatives
The presidency may have carried out the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari to withdraw soldiers drawn from the Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI) from the Presidential Villa. They have now been replaced with operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Buhari had, on assumption of duty on 29 May, 2015 dislodged the DSS as first-ring security around him and replaced them with soldiers drawn from the DMI.
The redefinition of the roles of the DMI and the DSS in the Presidential Villa may check their rivalry, and improve security in the presidency.
The soldiers were initially moved into the inner circle of the security network in the villa when President Buhari took over, while DSS operated at the periphery.
It was learnt that the directive for the removal of the soldiers was handed down by President Buhari shortly before he went on his vacation in the United Kingdom (UK).
The current Chief Security Officer (CSO), Bashir Abubakar had not been comfortable with the security structure which left soldiers as first- line security aides of the commander-in-chief.
A top source who confirmed the development yesterday, disclosed that the two security agencies had been at daggers drawn behind the scene over who provides protection to the president since Buhari moved into his Aso Rock official residence in 2015.
According to another source, “protection of the president by body guards is actually the work of the DSS but Mr. President did not have confidence in the service when he first came in, because of the way they treated him during the 2015 election.
“The soldiers were moved into the inner circle of the security network while DSS operated at the periphery. This has not gone down well with the DSS,” he noted.
Specifically, it was learnt that there had been a subtle disagreement between the former Chief Security Officer (CSO) Abdulraman Mani and the Aide de Camp (ADC) to the President, Col. Lawal Abubakar over which of the plain-clothes security agencies should provide close quarter protection to the president and his immediate family.
It was learnt that while Mani insisted on allowing men and officers of the DSS to provide the statutory shield around the president and the first family, the ADC was more disposed to having the plain-clothes operatives of the DMI to carry out the function.
The disagreement between the two aides, The Guardian learnt, was what led to the eventual removal of the former CSO who was replaced by Abubakar.
Mani had, in a memo dated Friday, June 26, 2016 countered the ADC’s directives which shoved aside the DSS. He had insisted that the order was a misrepresentation of the president. This was before his eventual removal.
Mani who in the memo quoted relevant sections of the constitution which grant powers to the DSS to carry out such security duties was said to have copied the National Security Adviser, the Chief of Defence Staff and the Director -General of the DSS. He had also noted that the various security agencies at the villa would be educated on their various responsibilities.
The memo read in part: “In fact, the issues raised in the aforementioned (ADC’s) 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 security cordons around venues and routes.
“However, all other security agencies, including the army, the police and others, also 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 statutorily prescribed responsibilities.
“Meanwhile, joint training programmes and other incentives will be worked out in the days ahead to ensure that all security personnel at the Presidential Villa are properly educated to understand their statutory roles and responsibilities.
“This is with a view to avoiding obvious grandstanding, overzealousness, limited knowledge or outright display of ignorance in future.”
But, it was learnt yesterday that the removal of the soldiers last Monday came after Buhari was convinced to facilitate a reversal to the original architecture and allow full charge of close quarter security within the purview of the DSS.
As at the time of filing this report, operatives of the DSS had taken positions in the villa previously manned by plain-clothes soldiers.