Published On: Mon, Aug 27th, 2018

DAURA: Fall of the hatchet man

The inside story of foreign connection to his sack

By OBINNA EZUGWU

When on Tuesday, August 7, 2018 Mr. Lawal Musa Daura, the erstwhile Director General of the Department of State Service (DSS) was summarily dismissed by then Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo over the invasion of the National Assembly by masked officials of the agency on his orders, many Nigerians were surprised but at the same time elated.

Daura, the hatchet man and chief political executor for the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, had become, in many people’s reckoning, the single biggest threat to the country’s democracy.

From invading homes of judges, including Supreme Court justices, in commando style at odd hours to affect their arrests, even without warrant, to literally turning into a terror against the likes of Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki and the Senate number two man, Ike Ekweremadu, Daura had successfully turned the DSS from the intelligence agency it was meant to be, to a hit squad of an administration now noted for its aversion to constitutionalism.

But even worse, Daura, according to sources within the DSS ranks, turned himself into an emperor whose words were laws. He allegedly ran the affairs of the service according to his own dictates. He was said to have compelled all Directors at the National Headquarters to queue up to pay homage to him daily.

Unilaterally, it was gathered, Daura slashed monthly subvention of same directors by as much as 70 percent under the pretext of lack of funds. Meanwhile, he was said to have placed his children and grandchildren and their spouses on monthly allowances of about N200,000, while his wives and older children in addition, got  petrol voucher for 100 litres per week and went in convoys.

He was also alleged to have converted vehicles donated to the Service by Dangote Group to personal use. While he cornered trailer loads of rice donated by the same group to his Kano based politician wife with which she was campaigning for House of Reps election ahead of 2019.

Daura’s DSS invasion of the National Assembly complex on August 7 was his Waterloo. It was a poorly timed act by an overzealous man who thought he could do no wrong. Indeed, he could not do any wrong. He had invaded homes of judges, legislators and sundry others, practically turning the DSS into the president political enforcer against any possible opposition. And he got away with all but…

In many ways, the invasion of the Assembly complex would have been a routine. It was not the first time. But it was the most elaborate display of force yet and it coincided with a time when Osinbajo, a man desperate to protect his image, was acting president and Buhari was away in London trying to convince the international community that had become disillusioned with his government that he was still a democrat. Daura fell into a trap, guided into same by Comrade Adams Oshiomhole, National Chairman of the All Progressives (APC).

Indeed, according to many sources, the DSS invasion was entirely the APC chairman’s idea and had been carried out on his instructions as part of his plot to oust Saraki and Ekweremadu. And like is customary, Osinbajo, who is said to be treated as an outcast in security matters, was not consulted before the invasion was carried out and he had, like everyone else, seen the drama unfold with no prior knowledge.

“The invasion was done with the knowledge of Oshiomhole,” a source in the presidency said. “It was plotted by Oshiomhole without the knowledge of the Vice President. But when it backfired, he removed his head and Daura carried his cross alone. He became the fall guy.”

But Daura’s sack was not as straightforward as it seemed. Another reliable source in the presidency confirmed that as has been reported by several media outlets, the DSS boss had “arrogantly” told off an enraged Osinbajo, insisting that he had the right to carry out the invasion and that the only person he was answerable to was Buhari.

“It was at that point,” the source said, “that Osibanjo called Buhari and told him that Daura had to go.”

But it was not an easy decision for the president who was in London at the time. The former DSS boss was the right hand man of his uncle and mentor, Mamman Daura who runs things in Ask Rock as the de facto president. But his hands were tied as pressure from the international community mounted.

In the imbroglio, the British government was said to have issued a terse statement stating clearly that Britain would not accept any change in the leadership of the National Assembly that did not follow due process.

Consequently, both the British and American government informed the President in London to tell him straight away that they would hold him responsible if the situation deteriorated.

“Buhari’s hands were tied, he had little choice but to give Osinbajo the go ahead to sack Daura,” the source said. “Both the British and American governments called him directly and told him that he would be held responsible if the situation deteriorated.”

After the announcement of Daura’s sack was made, the British High Commission released a statement as part of a larger European Union stance, commending the sack while insisting that the union was fully committed to supporting democracy in Nigeria.

“The EU is fully committed to supporting democracy in Nigeria, and it commends the Federal Government’s swift action to protect the independence of the National Assembly, as a critical pillar of democracy,” the statement read in part.

“The EU reiterates the importance of all law enforcement services staying neutral and ensuring that institutions can operate in line with their constitutional mandates, free from interference and intimidation.”

But there was also a convergence of interest and the desire to placate the Vice President’s South West constituency by giving the impression that he is part and parcel of the government set up. The Vice President was never part of security meetings and had since been ostracized from the security set up of the administration. And analysts say he was in part, allowed to prevail this time to give the impression that he is being accommodated.

“They understand that with the inevitable emergence of another Hausa-Fulani Muslim as presidential candidate of the PDP, Buhari although still more popular in the North, cannot be sure of winning by wide margin in the region,” said Tony Ezugwu, Abuja based analyst and legal practitioner.

“Therefore, Osinbajo is now a coveted bride. The hawks that had considered dropping him from the ticket have given up on that. They will accommodate him, just as they are accommodating (Bola) Tinubu until the election is over.”

The plot against Daura was also, in a way, a convergence of interest. And for some, although President Buhari is reportedly resisting pressure from his kinsmen to reinstate him, the last may not have been heard of the case.

It was in a way, also a culmination of the cold war between the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno’s group and the Mamnan Daura faction in the presidency. Lawal Daura it was revealed, being an integral part of the senior Daura group, was treating the NSA with contempt and does not take orders from him.

Sources say Monguno had complained bitterly that he could not even convene security meeting because the DSS boss would simply snub him.

“In another way, it was a convergence of interest between Osinbajo and the NSA,” the presidential source said. “The Daura faction may fight back. It may not be over yet,” he concluded.

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