President Muhammadu Buhari has met with former Department of State Services (DSS) Director-General, Mr Lawal Daura.
Last weekend’s Aso Villa meeting is said to be in connection with a report on the August 7, 2018 invasion of National Assembly by hooded DSS operatives.
It was also gathered that the meeting centered on the resurgence of Boko Haram insurgency in some parts of Northeast.
The options before the President are either to close Daura’s chapter on the invasion or re-engage him in the light of what some have considered an intelligence deficit in fight against Boko Haram and the seeming ethno-religious tension in some states in the last three months.
The plight of Leah Sharibu and Boko Haram’s execution of Hauwa Amina Liman, one of the two kidnapped International Committee of Red Cross (ICRC) workers were said to have created some intelligence gaps, which Daura was believed to have filled in the past.
A Presidency source confirmed that the President “had audience” with the former DG of DSS. This is the first time Buhari has met the former spymaster since he left office.
”Their meeting had to do with a pending report on the invasion of National Assembly before the President and the nation’s security apparatchik,” the source said, pleading not to be named because of the “sensitivity” of the matter.
“Apart from reading the report, the President used the opportunity to hear Daura’s side of the security siege to National Assembly by DSS operatives,” he added.
The meeting followed what the source described as pressure from Daura’s associates including members of the President’s kitchen cabinet.
”While some want the President to foreclose Daura’s case, others have insisted that the President should re-engage the former DG of DSS.
”Forces opposed to Daura have defended his sack by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo as a timely decision to save the nation’s democracy. They also see Daura’s return under any guise as a slight on the VP and a signal that the Presidency is disunited,” said the source, adding:
”They also claim that Daura did more damage to the security system and brought much strain to the principle of separation of powers by the three arms of government, including the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. They pointed at the arbitrary invasion, arrest and detention of judges by DSS.”
But, to Daura’s associates what is more important is “the larger picture of the nation’s security”. They claim that Daura’s contributions far outweigh the infraction of August 7, 2018 more so when the ex-DG of DSS has insisted that he did not act alone.
Said the source: “The pro-Daura elements attributed the recent intelligence setback in managing Boko Haram crisis in the Northeast to the absence of ex-DG of DSS. The Army and the Air Force have lived up to expectations but the intelligence back up has suffered in the last three months, leading to the incessant ambush of troops.
”They claimed that Daura was a key link to Boko Haram contacts and negotiation with the insurgents which led to the release of Chibok and 105 girls of Government Girls’ Technical College, Dapchi in Yobe State even without the knowledge of Nigerian Army and Nigerian Air Force.
”They pointed to the dilemma of a Dapchi school girl, Leah Sharibu, and felt only Daura ( as a member of the nation’s security set-up) can address it.
Investigation revealed that there is a plot by some forces to mount pressure on the President to appoint Daura to another top security office.
Another source added: “No doubt, there are plans to re-draw the nation’s security apparatchik to respond to recent challenges in Northeast and other parts of the country. What is on the card is for the President to re-engage Daura and give him a higher responsibility. But the President is also mindful of the possible backlash such a measure will attract.”
“A major challenge is the moral burden the return of Daura might create for President Muhammadu Buhari because Nigerians will see him as indulging Daura and making the former DG of DSS indispensable.”
While sacking Daura, Mr Osinbajo, who was then Acting President, told the nation that the disciplinary measure was necessary to end impunity in the country.
He described DSS operatives’ invasion of the National Assembly as ‘a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and accepted notions of law and order.’
Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris, in his report on the invasion of the National Assembly, claimed that Daura ‘acted unilaterally, without informing the Presidency. He did not share or intimate other Security Agencies on the unlawful operations’.