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The Lawal Daura saga

Former DG of DSS, Lawal Musa Daura

Lawal Daura, like the fictional spy who came in from the cold, is back in the cold, where, I am told, he is cooling his feet.

Courtesy of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, the acting president, Daura, was last week dramatically and forcefully separated from his job as the director-general of the Department of State Service, DSS.

Daura had deployed his men to the National Assembly premises to stop the legislators from going in or coming out of the hallowed chamber of one of the third tiers of government claiming he was staging this shenanigan with directive from above.

Wearing black hoods in the fashion of the dreaded Black September Palestinian terrorists who kidnapped eleven Israeli athletes during the 1972 Summer Olympics in Munich, Germany, Daura’s gun-wielding DSS operatives, for reasons which have still not been fully unravelled, displayed raw power and intimidated the early callers at the National Assembly in full glare of public television beaming to a world with baited breath.

Their siege lasted a whole of six hours and it was called off only after their boss had come to grief in the Aso Villa.

The Lawal Daura saga started almost as soon as he was given the job in 2015.

President Muhammadu Buhari, famously faithful and loyal to those who appear to be loyal and faithful to him, had plucked this Daura kith and kin of his from retirement and appointed him as the Director-General of DSS, an institution in the presidency whose chief mission is, among others, “to protect and defend the Federal Republic of Nigeria against domestic threats, to uphold and enforce the criminal laws of Nigeria and to provide leadership and criminal justice services to both federal and state law enforcement organs.”

The DSS known also as SSS is charged with the protection of the president, the vice-president, the senate president, speaker of the House of Representative, state governors and their families as well as other high ranking officials of government including past leaders.

This, historically, was not just a job for the boys.

It was meant for somebody who enjoyed the full confidence of the president.

It was, therefore not surprising when President Buhari, himself a serial victim of disloyalty, decided to give the job to the person he could trust and whose loyalty he could vouch for.

For three years, DG Daura, by his own personal assessment, must have discharged his duties to the best of his ability and to the satisfaction of his employer.

Even if he was not publicly applauded, it is not known if he was quietly and secretly rebuked for the manner in which he discharged his duties.

Perhaps by his calling, he was not required to be a team player. He was secretive, inscrutable even.

If not a total recluse and a loner by nature, he certainly was a non-conformist.

Perhaps he needed those queer qualities to be scrupulous, efficient and even audacious – a veritable rebel in the team, one that had no business courting popularity and seeking to please anybody.

His duty stopped at ensuring safety of society and the safety of his principals and not to make everybody happy and contented.

I guess that is why he couldn’t understand the hullaballoo generated by his controversial report on Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, who was nominated to the Senate for confirmation as chairman by the president two times and who was rejected by the Senate two times.

And it was thanks to Daura’s report on Magu which pointed to the fact that Magu was not a fit and proper person for the job.

The question that has not been answered to date is: did the DSS of Daura give the president security clearance on Magu before he sent his name to the Senate for confirmation as chairman?

After the first rejection, did the president know that it was the DSS report that put sand in the president’s gari?

And what did he do about it to ensure the nomination did not suffer the same fate the second time?

We can’t know now. But what we do know as of fact is that for the second time, based on Daura’s DSS’s unfavourable report, the Senate did not confirm the nomination of Magu as chairman.

And there the matter has rested. The consolation, which is really not a consolation but an admission of frustration, was the legal equivalent of a Greek eureka, a seminal discovery by Femi Falana, a legal luminary, that the EFCC chairman did not require senate confirmation, which position was later trumpeted by the vice-president to further incur the anger of the senators.

Success, they say, breeds success. In furtherance of his duty to provide criminal justice service to legal agents, the case of former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, and that of the Islamic cleric, Ibrahim el Zakzaky, respectively must have engaged his attention and after a casual look at the two cases, he might have cautioned that they be kept safely away in the gulag even if in defiance of court order.

The first time Dasuki was granted bail in 2015, it was the DSS operatives that re-arrested him in the court premises.

And he has remained behind bars, in total seclusion, against the rule of law and despite the numerous bails granted him by courts of superior jurisdiction including the ECOWAS court.

The continued detention of Jones Abiri, the journalist framed for militancy, is also attributed to the awesome powers of super Daura.

As if to deny him any redeeming feature, Daura’s traducers, now that he has fallen out of favour, also accuse him of exercising powers that ordinarily did not belong to him.

He is credited with the uncanny ability to override or overrule even the two most powerful persons in the villa, President Buhari and Vice-President Osinbajo on crucial matters like the $43.45 million recovered from Osborne Towers in Ikoyi by the EFCC.

In his spare time, they allege, the DSS boss routinely and whimsically dabbled into other security agents territory, the most attractive being the EFCC, wanting to know the high profile cases they intended to deal with.

At other times, he sniffed around to see which judge was most susceptible to allegations of engaging in underhanded dealings so he could send his operatives after them in the unholy hours of the night.

What I have discovered is that these spy masters are not only mysterious in their ways but they have superhuman capacity to surprise you beyond belief when the mood catches them.

There was a classic case of espirit de corps last week when the social media, notorious at the game of mixing fake news with factual news, quoted General Mohammed Babagana Monguno, national security adviser as saying that only President Buhari had the powers to sack Daura as DG of DSS.

He was said to be reacting to the news of the sacking of the man who was reported to have been refusing to take orders from him.

Where other lesser mortals would say, it serves him right, Monguno’s large heartedness forbids him from crowing in jubilation at the downfall of an officer not beholden to him. He even defended him and gamely protested his sacking.

With Daura out of the way, the EFCC now has a free hand to investigate his predecessor, former DG Ita Ekpeyong.

Previous attempts by EFCC to do so was frustrated by Daura’s operatives who had chased them away from Ekpeyong’s residence.

It remains to be seen if after Daura’s ouster, the Buhari administration will regain his human rights credentials by setting free the detained el Zakzaky and Sambo Dasuki who had been given bail by various courts and whose continued detention has remained a dent on the image of the administration.

But the question needs to be asked.

How come it has taken three good years for President Buhari and his deputy to discover what bad influence Daura was in the administration that promised change with the intent to fight the ills of the society and to establish a new order that would place high premium on decency and decorum, good governance, rule of law, probity and accountability, fairness, equality and justice for all manner of men?

And finally, is Lawal Daura the only fall guy in the Buhari administration?

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