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Monday, 17 February 2020

Buhari’s team in disarray as NSA Monguno declares war on Abba Kyari

Buhari’s team in disarray as NSA Monguno declares war on Abba Kyari

There seems to be an ongoing battle for supremacy among the handlers of Nigeria’s national security, particularly, the National Security Adviser, NSA, Babagana Monguno and the President Muhammadu Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.

There had been escalation of Boko Haram insurgency and attacks by bandits in the Northeastern and Northwestern parts of the country of recent.

On February 13, 2020, a global watchdog, Amnesty International, had accused the military of burning down villages and forcibly displacing hundreds of people in its fight against insurgents in the northeast, an accusation the military had since denied.

On Monday, according to PRNigeria, the supremacy battle was heightened by the recent circular from the Office of the NSA in which Mr Monguno accused Mr Kyari of hijacking the coordination of security leadership of the country, a role legally sanctioned for his office.

Before now, it was gathered that Mr Kyari, contrary to protocols, had been convening and chairing meetings with heads of defence, security and intelligence agencies with their supervising ministers in attendance, without recourse to the constitutional repercussions.

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Things became so heated that the NSA, in a circular dated December 9, 2019, entitled: ‘Disruption of National Framework by Unwarranted Meddlesomeness,’ which was sighted by PRNigeria, directly accused Mr Kyari of usurping his powers and those of President Buhari.

In the circular copied to all service, intelligence and security chiefs, including the ministers of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Interior and Police Affairs as well as Mr Kyari himself, Mr Monguno accused the president’s chief of staff of authoring two circulars on September 13 and November 26, 2019 respectively, with contents and directives at variance with Mr Buhari’s orders.

Mr Monguno also noted that what Mr Kyari was doing is an aberration, adding that he was not in any position to preside over national security meetings, nor competent enough to determine and manage the nation’s security architecture and trajectory.

The NSA, therefore, warned Mr Kyari to refrain from dabbling into matters he had no authority over, directing the security and intelligence chiefs as well as the ministers to follow the established line of authority in national security coordination – from ONSA to the President.

However, in his response to the circular, it was gathered that President Buhari had simply told Mr Monguno to “mind his business and focus on his job”.

Sources close to the Presidency told PRNigeria that Mr Monguno was being regarded as an NSA that is lacking in both competence and charisma, while so others described him as ‘an absentee security adviser,’ especially at the times of urgent security challenges.

According to the source, the NSA was accused of always travelling out of the country and sometimes with the President, at the slightest excuses.

“It was against this back drop that PMB in his response told NSA to stick to his job and don’t give orders to the Service Chiefs. The PMB’s reply was that NSA should stick to his job,” the source noted.

The NSA’s letter read: “References A and B were sent in response to the request for Presidential intervention to sustain Internal Security operations of the police within the shortest possible time.

“However, the contents of the 2 references were in variance with Mr President’s verbal, directives. Consequently, ONSA scrutinized the documents further and sought clarification from Mr President who has directed that Reference B be disregarded by all parties as it was sent without his endorsement.

‘While it is expected that all Heads of Security agencies, having spent many years in service would understand the means of passing directives from the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, it may be necessary to remind all, in the face of glaring breaches to that procedure.

“For clarification, other than direct verbal directives from the President, written directives ’emanating from Mr President would be conveyed with a copy of his manuscript directive or at minimum, bear his signature.

“Additionally, Mr President may convey directives to the Heads of defence and security apparatus through the NSA who Intelligence Community Committee, Joint Intelligence Board and General Security Appraisal Committee on behalf of the President and supervising Ministers of defence and security agencies.

“It should be noted that the Chief of Staff to the President does not direct the security apparatus of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, his job as it relates to security stops at conveying Mr. President’s written directives.

“Similarly, you are reminded that the Chief of Staff to the President is not a presiding head of security, neither is he sworn in an oath of defending the country. As such, unprofessional practices such as presiding over meetings with Service Chiefs and Heads of security organisations as well as Ambassadors and High Commissioners to the exclusion of the NSA and/or supervising Ministers are a violation of the constitution and directly undermine the authority of Mr President.

“Such acts and continuous meddlesomeness by the Chief of Staff have not only ruptured our security and defence efforts, but have slowed down any meaningful gain that Mr President has sought to achieve.

“As professionals, you are aware that the security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires concerted and centralized effort taking into account internal, external and diplomatic factors. It is therefore detrimental to our collective security that the Chief of Staff who is a on-supervising minister holds meetings with diplomats, security Chiefs and heads of agencies”

“Pursuant to the foregoing, you are by this letter directed to desist from these illegal acts that serve nothing but the continuous undermining of our national security framework. Any breach-of this directive will attract the displeasure of Mr President.”

A seasoned intelligence officer who spoke with the PRNigeria on condition of anonymity, expressed disappointment at how messy and uncoordinated the nation’s security leadership has become.

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