Is Nigeria’s Security Architecture Degenerating Into a House Of Cards?

Guest Columnist: Magnus Onyibe

Director General of the Directorate of State Security, DSS, Lawal Daura accused the acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, lbrahim Magu of corruption and makes it official by sending his report to both president Muhammadu Buhari and the National Assembly (NASS).On account of that damning report, the EFCC boss failed to secure the Senate’s confirmation of his appointment.

Perhaps hurting from the inability of its acting chairman to secure parliamentary confirmation of his appointment, the agency accused the now sacked Director General of Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA), Wole Oke of corruption and stormed a safe house where a total of N13b in assortment of foreign currencies are discovered.

Thereafter, the EFCC went on a counter offensive against the DSS by attempting to arrest the immediate past DG of the agency, Ita Ekpenyong for his complicity in the alleged misappropriation of $2.1b funds set aside for arms purchase by the ousted regime to combat the terrorist sect Boko haram. The former NSA Ahmed Dasuki, warehoused the funds believed to have been applied as campaign funds by the immediate past administration .

Reportedly on the order of Daura, the current DG of the DSS, Ekpeyong was ring fenced by the agency’s operatives and protected from arrest.

The plot then thickens as a former Assistant Inspector General, (AIG), Isa Misau, now a serving senator accused the Inspector General of Police, Idris Abubakar of corruption for allegedly demanding bribe from officers in exchange for lucrative postings and abuse of office such as dating a female police officer etc. Since the IGP has vehemently denied the charge, it is currently a subject of litigation .

That’s not all.

The Comptroller General of Customs, Hamid Ali has also alleged that corrupt people formerly domiciled in the Peoples Democratic Party have now mutated and made their way into the control room of power in the current APC led govt.

While the curious and dramatic claim was being digested, the senate president, Bukola Saraki raised the alarm that the recovered looted funds are being re-looted and it is the reason the authorities in countries having custody of looted funds from Nigeria are reluctant to return same as they are concerned that the funds may be relooted.

And the alarm by the head of the legislative arm of govt is an echo of the lamentation of Abubakar Malami, attorney general and minister of justice, who had in the course of responding to parliamentary inquiry reported that Abdulrasheed Maina, the accused pension fund looter had turned over to the EFCC, choice properties recovered by him and which the anti graft agency is alleged to have resold to its cronies and cohorts.

The brazenness of the economic brigandage and the lack of appetite by the govt in power to vigorously prosecute indicted officials who populated the inner recesses of govt make one wonder if Nigeria is not supposed to be a nation governed by the rule of laws as opposed to being a land of people who operate above the law?

Reading through the forgoing plot, anybody who had not been in Nigeria in the past 24 months would be excused if he/she thought that it’s a screen play for a blockbuster movie, like the good, the bad, the ugly,with the legendary Hollywood icon, Clint Eastwood.

However, the narrative is not a make believe movie, but an existential reality in our country Nigeria where absurdity would appear to be the new normal.

The DG of DSS, Lawal Daura captured it succintly when he narrowed down the reason the Nigerian security architecture has become like a house of cards to lack of or poor interagency cooperation .

Permit me to help those not into watching movies to familiarize themselves with the movie titled: House of Cards from which the title of this article is partly derived.

The BBC tv mini series based on a book authored by Mark Dobbs, an alumni of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, my alma mater is a hit for movie lovers, especially those who cherish political dramas.

The movie exposes the under belly of British politicians and in my estimation, it now has a parallel in Nigeria.

By all indications, the security agencies’ inspired reality show with Aso Rock villa, Abuja as the main setting, and other scenes shot on locations outside Aso Rock villa such as Foreshore Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos where billions of Naira being pampered with dedicated air conditioning facilities were discovered. Also the residence of the ex-DSS DG in Abuja where the Nigerian version of the movie, Body Guard featuring the veteran actor Richard Gear and the late songstress Whitney Houston was re-enacted, is an equivalent reenactment.

The difference between Body Guard the movie and what played out in the ex DSS boss’ residence in Abuja is that while the subject being protected fell in love with the body guard, the opposite is the case in the Nigerian version.

Another significant exception is that instead of featuring politicians, it is full of James Bond like stunts as reflected by the bubble in Nigeria’s security fiasco which is exposing the under belly of the country’s spy community ecosystem with its attendant incalculable collateral damage.

For instance, the revelation to the public that billions of Naira are stashed away as slush funds for covert activities is an anathema. So also are the other secretive security activities which are now in the public domain and might have compromising effects on the gathering and sharing of intelligence through activities of reliable sources, undercover operatives and other members of the intelligence community who might have been unduly exposed.

In the midst of the unfolding security services hiatus, what role is the office of the National Security Adviser, ONSA headed by Babagana Mungono, playing ?

Ideally, that’s the office that’s supposed to be coordinating all the security functions of govt on behalf of Mr. president.

So what’s going on?

From a distance, the NSA who is a retired army brigadier general, strikes me as an officer and a gentleman. Correct me if l’m wrong but I’m yet to meet anybody that has a contrarian view to the general understanding that the NSA is a thoroughbred professional that does not fancy ruffling feathers unnecessarily.

To that extent, l would imagine that he must be working assiduously behind the scene to manage the damage being done to the credibility of the security and intelligence community by the ongoing butting of heads by the various agencies that are supposed to be under his purview.

• Onyibe writes from Lagos

  • Omooba


  • obinnna77

    It is often said that our current Caesar learned nothing from his three decade hiatus; a view I do not subscribe to. He obviously learned from the most seminal event hitherto his second ascension. The embarrassing ‘palace coup’. Hence his placing loyalty above all else. Hence his sectional and personal selection of the headship of the institutional instruments of coercion. Hitler allowed the SD and the Abwehr to subvert each other, so that they did not subvert him. Onyibe, in your hyperbole, you failed to point out that someone obviously doesn’t mind the degeneration into a ‘house of cards’.

  • Mystic mallam

    Mr Onyibe Magnus, good job. But you omitted the main point either deliberately for whatever reasons, or maybe for lack of deeper introspection. The whole degeneration of Nigeria’s security architecture into a theatre of the absurd is the fruit we must reap for letting President Buhari get away with his incestuous nepotism in staffing those agencies and all other national security apparatus. Take a look again at the list of the agency heads – NSA, DSS, NIA, EFCC, Police, Army, Air force, COS, AGF, C&I – all connected by either kinship, religion or parish – in various gangs competing for who will be the greatest amongst them all in a presidency more aloof than the Queen of Denmark in the day-to-day running of Government. That is the elephant in the room, and for as long as it so remains, for as long will Nigeria’s divided Security House be ineffective and remain the laughing stock of its peers in the world. I won’t hesitate to place a bet on it that, if the highest level of Nigeria’s security architecture was led by people reflecting the diverse structure of the country as the 1999 constitution prescribed, the ease of gang-ups, collusion and unholy alliances among these ”rival siblings” would not be so possible. If we must resort to blames, let’s place the blames where they belong – on the nepotistic mindset of the man who hired these noisy, rival, quarrelsome ”siblings”.

    • “Korede


      ” I won’t hesitate to place a bet on it that, if the highest level of Nigeria’s security architecture was led by people reflecting the diverse structure of the country as the 1999 constitution prescribed, the ease of gang-ups, collusion and unholy alliances among these ”rival siblings” would not be so possible”

      Is there a gang-ups or unholy alliances or there is complete disagreements between all the actors?

      If they are rival siblings and they can disagree, I wonder what will happen when they are not related in any forms. Stop the blame on the president as it is better for Nigerians when they fight this way. Anytime there is no disagreement, it means they have shortchanged all of us and they will continue to smile why we all suffer.

      • Mystic mallam

        Sorry dear Mr Korede, Nigeria was not founded as an amalgamation of one family, it was meant to be an amalgamation of multiple families. Whenever any leader forgets that, he does incalculable harm to that sovereign union and its commonwealth due to incestuous in-breeding. But never mind, it’s okay if you don’t understand.

        • abodes_124


    • abodes_124

      Queen of Denmark aloof? No Queen Margaret is a ‘man’ of the people.

      • Mystic mallam

        Thanks. Let’s substitute with the king of Sweden.

  • James Gunn

    Sorry. Cia DOES not report to the Fbi.

  • Akwad

    “a land of people who operate above the law?” People in high places are highly ethnically biased lacking proper accountability.
    Combine that with religious zealots holding political power, then you get maladministration and malappropriation and the disrespect of the laws.

  • Don Franco

    Dear Magnus,

    While I commend your considerable effort in attempting to shine a light on the upside down inter-agency relationship between our domestic intelligence services and law enforcement, permit me to make the following observations and conclusion :

    1) DG, DSS, Lawal Daura and Chief of Staff Abba Kyari are involved in a battle for Villa supremacy against NSA Monguno and EFCC’s Ibrahim Magu. Presently Daura and Kyari are winning, if you consider that even though Daura is supposed to report to Monguno; it is the tail that is wagging the dog, rather. Why is Monguno afraid of Daura, who ordinarily should be under him? This situation is akin to the CIA reporting to the FBI, instead of the other way around.

    2) In the background, Senate President Bukola Saraki is aligned to the Daura-Kyari faction; while Bola Tinubu, his inveterate implacable enemy is aligned to the Monguno-Magu faction, to whom Osinbajo is affiliated.

    3) Ibrahim Magu’s failed attempt to arrest Ekpeyong and Oke was calculated to collect evidence in their possession that would have culminated in the dismissal of Daura from the DSS and the installation of a Tinubu surrogate as the the new DG, whom would be more amenable to Monguno, Magu and Osinbajo, going into 2019.

    That the NSA is an officer and a gentleman is beyond question, but in the murky cloak and dagger world that’s he’s operating, things are anything but what they seem. I venture to opine that his personality type is no match for the cunning and capricious disposition of the DSS DG, who continues to outfox him on every turn.

    One small point of correction, Magnus, it was Kevin Costner that played in the movie, Bodyguard, with Whitney Houston, not Richard Gere, like you stated in your write-up.

    • Fidelis A.

      Thanks for the body guard correction. Just a quick search on Google would have helped him, they can be embarrassingly lazy sometimes and very few people knew of the BBC mini TV series of the house of cards. I thought he wanted to mention Kevin spacey’s Netflix thriller, maybe he just wanted to remind us of his alma Mata. And senator Isa Misau was never an assistant inspector general of police , he retired as a deputy superintendent of police. And what a horrifying end to his article, a premise without a conclusion, he started on a high and ended on a low. Where is Shaka please………… I am not in for this thriller.

      • MDG2020

        Dear F. A,
        You too worry ooo!
        Haba mana, hankalee faaa!

  • Darcy

    “The BBC tv mini series based on a book authored by Mark Dobbs, an alumni of Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, my alma mater”

    Brotherly, maka gini?? Ahn ahn.

    Great points all around. The problem, I think, is that Nigeria has far too many security agencies and worse, far too many gun carrying agencies.

    Scrap, the civil defence, take the guns away from Customs. Shift policing duties (gun free) to the States and create an overarching Federal Rapid Response and Conduct Supervision Agency.

    Also, fold in ICPC and EFCC and give it constitutionally determined independence, a fair start, No?