President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday fired his Chief Security Officer, Abdulrahman Mani, and requested the State Security Service to redeploy him out of the presidential villa, sources in the presidential villa and the State Security Service have told PREMIUM TIMES.
The presidency has yet to officially announce the development, but PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Mr. Mani has since been replaced by Bashir Abubakar, who, until his appointment was an assistant director in the Bayelsa state command of the SSS.
Mr. Mani has in turn been redeployed to the Ebonyi state command of the SSS, our sources said.
The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, directed all enquiries on the matter to the State Security Service.
“I don’t speak on security matters, so you may have to ask the SSS,” Mr. Adesina told PREMIUM TIMES.
The spokesperson for the SSS could however not be reached for comments.
Sources familiar with the matter however told PREMIUM TIMES that the president ordered Mr. Mani removed following repeated complaints that he was blocking people with genuine appointments from having access to the President.
“He was becoming excessively overzealous and overbearing,” one source said.
PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Mr. Mani first angered Mr. Buhari when he engaged the president’s aide-de-camp, Mohammed Abubakar, in what appeared a power struggle.
Mr. Abubakar, a Lieutenant Colonel, had issued a memo ordering personnel of the State Security Service out of inner Aso Rock and restricting them to guarding the “outer perimeter” of the presidential villa, saying personnel of the Armed Forces and the police, trained as Presidential Body Guards (PBGs), are to “provide close/immediate protection for Mr. President henceforth”.
Mr. Abubakar said SSS operatives should steer clear of 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”.
“However, the personnel of the DSS in conjunction with other security forces are to man other duty beats/locations located within the immediate outer perimeter of the Presidential Villa,” he said, without providing reasons for the action.
But in a June 26 response to Mr. Abubakar, Mr. Mani, rejected the directive and gave a counter order asking his colleagues to disregard the spirit, intent and content of Mr. Abubakar’s circular.
Mr. Mani, who pointedly accused the ADC of grandstanding, overzealousness, limited knowledge and outright display of ignorance, insisted that Mr. Abubakar’s circular “grossly misrepresents” President Buhari’s directive.
He however did not say what the President’s exact directive is.
Mr. Mani, a personnel of the SSS himself, continued, “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.
He added, “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.
“Meanwhile, joint training programmes and other incentives will be worked out in the days ahead to ensure that all security 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.”