The appointment of Lawal Daura as the head of Nigeria’s secret police was greeted with public opprobrium and surprise. Many citizens expressed misgivings, not only because Lawal hails from the same Katsina State as President Muhammadu Buhari, but also on account of the fact that the selection lacked merit and competency.
His appointment as the sixth director general to succeed Ita Ekpeyong, a thoroughbred professional, was one of the low points of the Buhari administration, because Daura is the President’s kinsman.And having secured the top job in the Department of State Services (DSS) from where he unceremoniously left with monumental lack of distinction, Daura failed on many occasions to discharge his duties with patriotism or in obedience to the rule of law.
The first sign that the DSS under Daura would be put to purposes other than national security emerged on September 3, 2015 when the security organ of the federal government mobilised its operatives to invade the Akwa Ibom State Government House in Uyo.
The operatives, numbering 48, ransacked the premises without a search warrant. After the 50-minute braggadocio and pandemonium, the officers found only N1 million and $50, 000. Incensed by the unwarranted affront, Governor Udom Emmanuel was forced to pose three questions that echoed in the minds of most Nigerians: “Is this what you were looking for? And calling President Buhari, the governor in the same tone was said to have asked, “Is this democracy? Why send these people to invade our government house?”
As Buhari’s kinsman, Daura carried on as the custodian of the president’s political future. He disagreed with other heads of security agencies, particularly sidelining the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.
Believing that he was the ‘presidency’, it was hard to decipher whom Daura reports most of his assignments. For instance, a year after the Akwa Ibom misadventure, Daura sent his hooded operatives to raid the homes of some judges in Abuja and Port Harcourt at night.
At the height of public outcry, the service through one operative, Garba Abdullahi, explained that the crackdown followed the opulent lifestyles of the jurists, adding that the measure was aimed at instilling discipline and sanity in the judiciary.
But, investigations later revealed that the judges were targeted as a retaliatory effort to requite them for unsavoury rulings and harsh stance against the Gestapo style of the secret police.
For instance, one of the judges, Mr. Nnamdi Dimgba, whose brother received the manhandling of the operatives in his absence, had on July 22, 2016 tongue-lashed the DSS for failing to bring Air Commodore Umar Mohammed to his court for return hearing.
Also Justice Muazu Pindiga, former chairman of the Rivers State Gubernatorial Petitions Tribunal, was arrested on allegations of bribery and corruption. He was said to have rebuffed overtures to dangle justice in a predetermined outcome.
However, as if the DSS under Daura had become a government unto itself, it wrote a damning report that swayed the Senate against clearing the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).If Buhari ached at the burden of unfavourable public opinion, the division within the security agencies, as exemplified by the DSS report against and the attendant stonewall by the Senate, which latched onto it, stuck out like a sore thumb.
Not that alone, it was the DSS that supplied the raw materials with which the National Assembly nailed the former secretary to the government of the federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal.For the most of the strong-arm tactics adopted by the Lawal Daura-led secret police, Buhari’s public image evoked his undemocratic stance as military head of state, because he seemed powerless to curtail the excesses of his kinsman. But, yesterday, the game was up for Daura. The acting president, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, sacked him from office as the director general of DSS for unleashing hooded operatives on Nigeria’s citadel of democracy, the national assembly.