NIGERIA: President Buhari sacks Chief Security Officer, orders him out of Aso Rock

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President Muhammadu Buhari has reportedly sacked his Chief Security Officer, Abdulrahman Mani and replaced him with Bashir Abubakar, who, until his appointment was an assistant director in the Bayelsa state command of the State Security Service (SSS).

According to reports, the president on Saturday, July 4, after firing Mani, instructed the State Security Service to redeploy him out of the presidential villa.

Mani has however been redeployed to the Ebonyi state command of the SSS.

Sources said removal of Mani came following recurring complaints that he was blocking people with genuine appointments from having access to the President.

“He was becoming excessively overzealous and overbearing,” a source said.

He was said to have infuriated Buhari when he engaged his aide-de-camp, Lieutenant Colonel, Mohammed Abubakar, in what appeared to be a power struggle.

It will be recalled that Abubakar had, penultimate week 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”.

Abubakar said SSS operatives should distant themselves from certain areas in the villa, like “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, Mani countered Abubakar's directive in a response on June 26, asking his colleagues to to disregard the spirit, intent and content of Abubakar’s circular.

He accused Abubakar of grandstanding, overzealousness, limited knowledge and outright display of ignorance, insisted that Mr. Abubakar’s circular “grossly misrepresents” President Buhari’s directive.

Mani said in the statement read,  “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.

“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.”

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