The Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday sacked the Director-General of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura
A top government official confirmed to our correspondent on condition of anonymity that Daura was “handed over to law enforcement agents” immediately after his appointment was terminated.
The former DSS boss was in the Presidential Villa when his removal was announced.
“Yes, he was immediately handed over to law enforcement agencies. You know that for somebody that held such an office, he needed to be debriefed and all that,” the source said.
Another source confirmed that Daura was driven out of the premises in a Hilux van belonging to the Nigeria Police Force.
Our correspondent reports that reporters who laid ambush outside for him saw his convoy leaving the premises without him.
It was gathered that the VP was highly embarrassed by the invasion.
The sack letter it was gathered was prepared even before Daura arrived. It was handed over to him by Osinbajo’s aides, as the VP refused to meet with him.
It was also gathered that President Muhammadu Buhari had been complaining of Daura’s antics and would have removed him about two weeks ago but was stopped by some of his aides.
The sack of the DSS boss followed early Tuesday morning siege to the National Assembly by armed and masked operatives of the department.
Osinbajo’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Laolu Akande, announced the firing of Daura in a statement made available to journalists.
He said the Acting President had directed Daura to hand over to the most senior officer in the service.
The statement reads, “The Acting President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has directed the termination of the appointment of the Director-General, Department of State Services, Lawal Musa Daura, with immediate effect.
“Mr Daura has been directed to hand over to the most senior officer of the State Security Service until further notice.”
The siege by the DSS, which began as early as 6am caught most employees of the National Assembly unawares as cleaners, bankers, reporters and others who had business to transact within the complex were prevented from entering the premises.
The security officials used an unmarked white Coaster bus and two black Hilux pickups to block the main gate leading to the National Assembly.
Not long after, Senators Abiodun Olujimi (PDP, Ekiti,) Ben Murray Bruce (PDP, Bayelsa) and Rafiu Ibrahim (PDP, Kwara) arrived at the scene. They approached the gate but the masked DSS officers also prevented them from entering.
Few minutes later, a female member of the House of Representatives, Boma Goodhead (PDP, Rivers) arrived and insisted on entering the premises.
When the armed men stood in her way, she approached the operatives menacingly and shouted at them.
She shouted, “I dare you to shoot, shoot me. How can you come here and be embarrassing us?
“Was this what Jonathan did to Buhari? You are all a disgrace.”
Following her protest, she was allowed to enter the premises at 8am. She was soon followed by some legislators but the DSS operatives prevented members of the National Assembly staff and journalists from entering.
In the statement that announced the sacking of Daura, Osinbajo was also quoted as describing the action of the security operatives as a gross violation of constitutional order, stressing that the development was not authorised by the Presidency.
He declared that all persons who participated in the siege would be identified and made to face appropriate disciplinary action.
The statement reads further, “Acting President Yemi Osinbajo, SAN, has described the unauthorised takeover of the National Assembly complex earlier today as a gross violation of constitutional order, rule of law and all acceptable notions of law and order.
“According to him, the unlawful act which was done without the knowledge of the Presidency is condemnable and completely unacceptable.
“By this statement, Prof. Osinbajo is consequently assuring Nigerians that all persons within the law enforcement apparatus who participated in this travesty will be identified and subjected to appropriate disciplinary action.”
Following the removal of Daura, the Vice-President, also on Tuesday, met behind closed doors with the most senior Director in the DSS, Matthew Seiyefa.
The meeting was held inside Osinbajo’s office at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
Osinbajo had, while terminating the appointment of Lawal Daura as the Director-General of the DSS, asked him to hand over to the most senior official in the agency.
Seiyefa, from Bayelsa State, arrived at the Presidential Villa in an official Sports Utility Vehicle at about 4pm.
He was seen clutching an office file as he made his way into Osinbajo’s office.
Shortly after his arrival, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, also arrived.
Magu, however, left before Seiyefa.
He left at about 4.40pm without talking to State House correspondents.
Siege scuttles National Assembly leaders meeting
The blockade led to the abrupt cancellation of the meeting of principal officers of the National Assembly scheduled for Tuesday.
The Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yusuf Lasun, announced the cancellation in an interview with journalists outside the National Assembly.
He explained that the meeting was no longer feasible with the tense atmosphere at the National Assembly.
Lasun said, “A meeting cannot be held under this kind of atmosphere. It is unfortunate that this is happening because when the parliament is under siege, democracy is under siege.”
The deputy speaker arrived at the National Assembly a few minutes to 12pm; the time fixed for the meeting and met the DSS officers at the National Assembly gate.
They allowed him and his convoy drive into the building but he soon drove out after a brief meeting with members of the House of Representatives and senators who earlier entered the premises.
He told reporters that although his aides had informed him about the siege, he chose to come for the meeting but soon realized that it was no longer feasible.
The deputy speaker also said he was in touch with the President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu; and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, among others.
It’s a coup against democracy – Saraki, Dogara
The President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Yakubu Dogara, have released a joint statement in which they described the invasion of the National Assembly by security officials as a “coup against democracy.”
Saraki and Dogara condemned the invasion of the sanctity of the legislature and the harassment of staff and legislators by officials of the DSS as another attempt to subvert democracy.
They noted that the heavy presence of armed security men who unnecessarily militarized the legislative complex and harassed legislators and the workers in the complex could not be justified in a democracy.
The statement reads, “By 6.30 am, the reports started coming in and by 7am, there were pictures and videos online showing armed security men preventing senators and honourable members from coming into the complex.
“Some of our colleagues then mobilised other members in both chambers from their respective abodes so that they could pressurise the security men from allowing them to gain entry.
“Obviously, the public outcry from Nigerians and members of the international community against this illegality, this desecration of the sanctity of the legislature and this flagrant abuse of powers forced the government to relax the directives given to the security men as they later allowed the legislators to walk from the main gate into the foyer.
It added, “Still the lawmakers were not allowed to drive in, in their vehicles and were denied access into the main building housing their offices.
“It is not clear what the plan of the government is but information reaching us indicated that some senators who are pro-executive arm are being camped somewhere here in Abuja and they are being compelled to sign an impeachment notice that would later be brought to the Assembly complex.”
The two presiding officers appealed to Nigerians and members of the international community to view the development as “a coup against democracy.”
They described what happened at the National Assembly complex on Tuesday morning as a throw-back to the inglorious days of military rule where dissent was not tolerated and freedom of association and other fundamental human rights were willfully and carelessly violated.
They expressed gratitude to senators and their counterparts in the House of Representatives for standing up to be counted in defence of democracy and the rule of law by resisting “this coup against democracy.”
Senator accuses colleagues of receiving US$1m bribe to remove Saraki
Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (PDP, Kwara South) alleged on Tuesday that lawmakers under the aegis of Parliamentary Support Group were given US$1m each to impeach Senate President Bukola Saraki and his Deputy, Ike Ekweremadu.
The lawmaker said this in an interview with reporters at the National Assembly on Tuesday.
His allegations could however not be independently verified. None of the leading members of the Parliamentary Support Group for Muhammadu Buhari could be reached for comments.
Calls to the mobiles of Senators Ovie Omo-Agege and Ali Ndume who are vocal members of the PSG were neither picked nor returned. A response to a text message sent to them was still being expected as of the time of filing this report.
Northern leaders, CUPP, IYC, Ortom, others condemn siege
Nigerians have condemned the blockade of the National Assembly by the DSS operatives.
The Coalition of United Political Parties accused President Muhammadu Buhari of being behind the invasion .
It said there was no way the operatives of the DSS and policemen would have carried out such an action without the backing of the President.
CUPP is a coalition of 39 political parties and associations, which was formed to oust Buhari in the 2019 presidential election.
It alleged that the President deliberately left Abuja for London to pretend that he was not in the country while the illegal actions were carried out.
CUPP said in a statement by its spokesman, Mr Ikenga Ugochiyere, that the action of the security agencies was a continuation of the series of desperation and what he called a show of shame by the Buhari-led Federal Government to “violently, unlawfully and undemocratically take over the leadership of the National Assembly, a plot it failed to achieve on the democratic turf.”
He said, “Yet again the coupists and enemies of democracy failed. Brave and courageous pro-democracy senators and representatives fought their way through the evil and anti-democratic barricades at the risk of their lives and ensured that our precious democracy is safeguarded. Nigerians are grateful to them.
“The CUPP is aware that the plotters shamelessly accepted to execute this brief in the absence of President Muhammadu Buhari so as to afford the President the needed alibi that he did not have a hand in the undemocratic events of today.
“We have seen through his façade of pontificating to love democracy while plotting to cross democratic red lines. Nigerians are indeed grossly disappointed.
Ugochiyere called on the international community to beam their searchlight on the events happening in Nigeria “before President Buhari plunges Nigeria into crisis in particular and the world into the worst humanitarian crisis of all time.”
He added, “President Buhari is now very desperate. He is baring all his despotic and tyrannical credentials.
“He has put the 2019 general elections in jeopardy and the totality of all his actions is to see that elections do not hold as that is the only way he can keep a hold on power.
“Nigerians shall continue to be vigilant to chase out a failed President before he eventually turns Nigeria into a failed state.”
While welcoming the sack of Daura, Ugochiyere called on the government to also sack the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris.
“We are waiting to see that the Acting President also sacks the Inspector-General of Nigeria Police to help restore the confidence of Nigerians in our democratic institutions that men like the former DG SSS nearly rubbished,” he added.
Similarly, northern leaders under the aegis of Northern Leaders and Stakeholders condemned the invasion.
It said it was regrettable that the trampling on Nigeria’s democratic values was perpetrated by the Buhari-led APC Federal Government.
A statement issued by the Secretary of the body, Dr Umar Ardo, in Abuja on Tuesday, said the invasion was the “worst form of impunity our country has witnessed in recent history,” adding that “destructive act against our democracy can only be surpassed by a full blown military coup d’état.”
He added, “Nigeria’s democracy was restored and nurtured since 1999 on the sweat and blood of patriots after it was toppled by General Buhari himself in 1983.
“Nigerians cannot therefore sit back and watch all that have been built for nearly two decades destroyed again by headless power mongers on account of their insatiable selfish interests.
“NLSA condemns this act in its totality and calls upon the NASS leadership to as a matter of urgency reconvene the Assembly and summon the leadership of the executive to explain this brazen act by the security services and apply disciplinary action where necessary as provided for by the constitution.
“NLSA also calls upon all Nigerians, especially northerners, to stand up against this tyranny and condemn it without reservation and defend our democracy and our constitution. Enough is enough.”
In his reaction, the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, also condemned the blockade.
Ortom in a statement issued by his Chief Press Secretary, Terver Akase, lamented that the action of the security operatives had made the country a laughing stock.
He stated, “I condemn police invasion of the National Assembly and urge patriotic Nigerians to reject this impunity which is an assault on our democracy. We cannot afford to remain the laughing stock of the world.”
Ortom said that a similar breach of democratic norms was happening in the Benue State House of Assembly and stated that if it was tolerated at the highest level, the impunity would spread across the country.
He recalled that the Presidency denied any role in the Benue saga and did not punish people responsible for the invasion of the state Assembly.
Condemning the action, the Ijaw Youth Council warned against attempts by the Presidency and desperate politicians in the country to truncate the nation’s democracy.
IYC, an umbrella body for Ijaw youths worldwide, described the invasion as disgraceful. The group in a statement signed by its President, Eric Omare, called on Buhari and the international community to save the country from the hands of politicians who were bent on destroying democracy in the country.
Daura sacrificed as fall guy – Ben Bruce
Some members of the National Assembly have described the sacking of Daura as a victory for democracy.
Senator Ben Bruce said though it would appear that Daura was sacrificed as the “fall guy” for the failed plan of the APC-led Federal Government to remove the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, it was still worth celebrating.
He spoke further, “I call on President Muhammadu Buhari to fire all the ‘coup’ plotters for doing a shoddy job.
“This was a monumental failure and the worst coup ever planned in the whole of my life.
“Well, if they wanted to use a scapegoat (sacking of the DG, DSS), it turned out well,” he said.
On his part, Senator Dino Melaye vowed that lawmakers would continue to oppose the planned leadership change.
“If they plan 10 times, it will fail 10 times.
“We will come tomorrow again and we will continue to come to the National Assembly.”
Dogara hails lawmakers
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Mr Yakubu Dogara, has hailed members of the National Assembly for resisting the invasion.
Dogara, who arrived at the National Assembly premises about 5.08pm on Tuesday, said it would take courageous citizens to defend democracy.
Commenting on the siege and the resilience of lawmakers, who guarded the National Assembly, the speaker said, “Democracy is always defended by courageous people. In any society where you run into the absence of courageous people, democracy dies and then sycophancy is enthroned, and with sycophancy, you cannot have democracy.
“What we have done therefore is service to our democracy and forever this day will go into history as one of those days our democracy faced serious trials and that true men and women of courage were able to ensure that it survived.
“You should be vigilant as it is said by so many philosophers that vigilance is the condition upon which God gives man liberty.
“I want to thank God also for most of you who sacrificed everything to come out here on account of the threat this institution was facing, to defend this institution which is the number one institution of any democracy.”
APC, police deny involvement
The All Progressives Congress has dissociated itself from the invasion of the National Assembly.
In a statement signed by its Acting National Publicity Secretary, Yekini Nabena, in Abuja on Tuesday, the APC said what happened at the National Assembly was purely a “legislative matter.”
The statement reads, “Our attention has been drawn to mischievous attempts in some partisan quarters to link Tuesday’s developments in the National Assembly to the National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Mr Adams Oshiomhole.
“While the party is monitoring the developments in the National Assembly like every other concerned Nigerian and stakeholder, there is absolutely no basis for all the false allegations and attempt to blame the APC national chairman for the development there. It is strictly a legislative matter.”
Similarly, the Inspector-General of Police, Ibrahim Idris, on Tuesday said his men were not involved in the early morning invasion of the National Assembly by security agents.
Idris made the denial in an interview with State House correspondents at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The police boss and Lawal Daura had met the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, shortly before Osinbajo relieved Daura of his appointment as the director-general of the Department of State Services.
Asked what his opinion was about the siege, the IGP said, “I have not received the detailed picture of the event. When I have a detailed picture, we will make a release about it.”
On whether policemen were involved, he said, “Policemen were not involved.” (PUNCH)