Senator Iroegbu in Abuja
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Ismaila Aliyu, is battling the National Security Adviser (NSA), Col. Sambo Dasuki, for the control of the nation’s security apparatus, especially the counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency operations in the North-east.
Presidential sources, on Saturday, disclosed that there were spirited attempts to take the execution of the war against terror away from the Office of the NSA (ONSA), where it had been domiciled, to the Ministry of Defence anchored by the permanent secretary and other influential individuals around President Muhammadu Buhari.
The source noted that “the simmering cold war blew open recently when Dasuki reversed what seems to be an ill-advised announcement by Aliyu that all military checkpoints should be dismantled across the country.”
While responding to THISDAY enquiries, the source noted that similar to the rivalry between the Department of the State Security (DSS) and the military forces within the Aso Rock Villa, there is an orchestrated plan by some powerful individuals close to Buhari to hijack the coordination of the anti-terror war from the ONSA, using Aliyu as the arrow head.
The source warned that the “ill-advised directive and apparent lack of a coordinated perspective in the President’s security team could either backfire or jeopardise the whole security operations.”
According to the source, the rule of law is being jettisoned and security structures being handed over to those who have little knowledge or lacked the capacity to manage the country’s counter-terrorism operations.
“I don’t really know but from the feeling I am getting, it seems the President’s current security operations is being handled by the Permanent Secretary of Defence under the supervision of the former Chief of Army Staff. But this should not be so, because according to the Terrorism (Prevention) Amendment Act 2013, NSA is the major coordinating body with the Attorney-General of the Federation/ Minister of Justice (AGF/MJ).
“However, what you are seeing today is confusion about who is in charge of the President’s war against terror, and the law is very clear about this. Consequently, we have two camps right now; with the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Defence, the former COAS and other forces on one hand and the NSA and the Service Chiefs on the other hand.”
The source cited Section 2, sub-Section 1 of the Principal Act (amended), tagged: Coordinating Bodies, which spells out the roles of The Office of the National Security Adviser as follows:
“(a) provide support to all relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement agencies and military services to prevent and combat acts of terrorism in Nigeria;
(b) ensure the effective formulation and implementation of a comprehensive counter-terrorism strategy for Nigeria;
(c) build capacity for the effective discharge of the functions of all relevant security, intelligence, law enforcement and military services under this Act or any other law on terrorism in Nigeria; and
(d) do such other acts or things that are necessary for the effective performance of the functions of the relevant security and enforcement agencies under this Act.”
Also, “the Section 2, sub-section (2) said: The Attorney-General of the Federation shall be the authority for the effective implementation and administration of this Act and shall strengthen and enhance the existing legal framework to ensure – terrorism laws and policies with international standards and United Nations Conventions on Terrorism;
(b) maintain international co-operation required for preventing and combating international acts of terrorism; and
(c) the effective prosecution of terrorism matters.”
It would be recalled that Aliyu, after a security meeting last month, announced that the president had ordered the dismantling of military roadblocks and directed the police to take over internal security. But the NSA later clarified that President Buhari never ordered the dismantling of all the roadblocks, following a renewed onslaught of Boko Haram attacks.
Dasuki, had after meeting with top military and security chiefs in his office in Abuja on Thursday, clarified that the directive of the president was never a blanket order to remove all military checkpoints.
The NSA, in what seems like a direct swipe at the directive given by the Permanent Secretary, noted that the military roadblocks in flashpoints would continue to be maintained while those in relatively peaceful areas would be dismantled but soldiers would continue to be positioned in those areas while not blocking roads.
He said it was both conventional and in tandem with the global practice for governments to increase security measures whenever insecurity is heightened and appealed to citizens to endure the temporary inconvenience the roadblocks may cause.
He said that the essential security checkpoints in vulnerable areas were a “necessary inconvenience” to ensure criminals and terrorists do not have easy passage.
Not to be outdone, THISDAY gathered that the anti-Dasuki forces have also leaked some information and articles circulating in various online media alleging that President Buhari rejected NSA’s resignation letter.
According to one of the reports, Buhari was said to have rejected the resignation letter of Dasuki on the grounds that he had to account for funds received under his tenure running into billions of dollars.
However on further inquiries, a source close to ONSA has dismissed the reports as rumours and fabrication to tarnish the image of Dasuki, while enhancing their own chances for political patronage and appointments.
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