A former aide to the sacked director general of State Security Service, Lawal Daura, has accused his former boss of being a serial bribe receiver and at the same time, a man who betrayed President Muhammadu Buhari, many times for monetary gains.
The assistant, Abdulwahab Abdulrahman, a retired senior SSS official, said he left the agency because of the scale of corruption and abuse there, Premium Times reports.
“I didn’t want my children to see news of my eventual arrest on TV,” he said
Mr Daura, who led Nigeria’s domestic spy agency since 2015, was abruptly fired on Tuesday by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo after he ordered a siege on the National Assembly.
The siege, which many Nigerians have characterized as a coup d’état, startled a nation that has struggled in the past two weeks to keep pace with rapidly unfolding political stunts ahead of next year’s general elections.
The cordon saw gun-wielding masked men blockading the federal parliament building in central Abuja, denying access to lawmakers and legislative staff. It was lifted several hours later, but only after Mr Daura was summoned by Mr Osinbajo and summarily dismissed. The acting president said the exercise did not receive authorisation.
Many Nigerians believe the move was to facilitate the removal of Bukola Saraki as senate president as punishment for his leaving the ruling APC last week.
But while such plot failed, it helped further galvanize public outrage against Mr Daura, a controversial figure who in the past three years managed to create for himself a notorious label as an outlawed official responsible for illegal detention, clampdown on dissent and disobedience of court orders.
Now, his former associate, Mr Abdulrahman, whom some described as Mr Daura’s former “right-hand man”, has spoken out exclusively to PREMIUM TIMES on what he said was Mr Daura’s darker side Nigerians never knew. Mr Abdulrahman served as special assistant to Mr Daura until 2016.
Besides corruption, he said Mr Daura repeatedly betrayed President Buhari.
Messrs Abdulrahman and Daura were members of the Buhari campaign’s security committee in the buildup to 2015 election. The committee was led by the current Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau.
Mr Abdulrahman said he served as the secretary of the 25-member committee.
“I noticed immediately we started work that for Lawal Daura it is simply about the money,” he said. “In one of earlier meetings he suggested that we should request for one billion to start work. Where will Buhari see one billion to give us?”
Premium Times could not independently verify the claim. Mr Daura could not also be reached as he remained in detention Wednesday.
Some of his aides said Mr Abdulrahaman was bitter after being sacked by Mr Daura, and cautioned his claims be treated with restraint. Mr Abdulrahman denied being sacked; he told this newspaper he left of his own volition.
But while several other sources in the security agency confirmed most of the allegations against Mr Daura, they told PREMIUM TIMES both men worked together for years either for good or for bad till they parted ways in 2016.
Still, they said the revelations, especially with Mr Abdulrahman waiving any claim to anonymity, provide a rare opportunity for Nigerians to get a glimpse of the illicit practices at a security agency that should be one of the nation’s most revered, and how corruption and partisanship have stunted the department’s potential.
Before, after 2015 election
Mr Abdulrahman said in the course of their work and as part of the transition team after Mr Buhari won the election, Mr Daura “kept producing fake reports about (Ita) Ekpenyong (his predecessor), but we never knew what he was targeting,” until late.
He said Mr Daura soon developed the habit of going to Mr Buhari’s influential cousin, Mamman Daura, to report Mr Ekpenyong and give details of what the election committee was doing.
That way, he said Lawal Daura warmed his way into Mamman Daura’s heart. He also said despite coming from the same neighbourhood in Katsina state, Mr Buhari never knew Lawal Daura until 2015.
“He was introduced to the president by the late Senator Mustapha Bukar,” he said.
He also said Mr Daura was never a favourite of President Buhari because of his “antecedents”, suggesting he was somehow imposed on him by Mamman Daura and others close to him.
“When he was appointed he kept putting pressure on me and Maikano, the current AO (admin officer) at the presidential villa to come and work with him as SA. He assured me that what I will get under him, I cannot get even as a Minister,” Mr Abdulrahman said.
Mr Maikano could not be reached to comment on the claim.
Mr Abdulrahman said Mr Daura feared the DG job may not be very easy since he had never worked at the headquarters and was not an operational staff.
“He said he wants the two of us to stabilise the service for him,” he quoted Mr Daura as saying. Mr Abdulrahman said he eventually agreed the offer after much pressure.
He claimed as the work commenced, “Daura was receiving money from everyone including the president’s enemies”.
Mr Abdulrahman said when they resumed, they always closed late at work, often at about 2am. “What are we doing was mostly: receiving Ghana must go filled with cash brought by enemies of government to him,” he said somewhat confirming he was part of whatever happened at the time.
“The rate of corruption on that fourth floor was too much and the president doesn’t deserve this,” he said. “He will go and get information on plans for (Senate president) Bukola (Saraki) and then leak it to him,” he said.
Similar allegation emerged Tuesday after Mr Daura’s removal, with many administration supporters accusing him of working for Mr Saraki against the government.
On Wednesday, Mr Saraki said claims he compromised Mr Daura in respect of the National Assembly siege constituted an “insult on the intelligence of Nigerians”.