Tension is growing between security agencies ahead of the relocation of President Muhammadu Buhari to the presidential villa in Abuja.
Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo have yet to relocate to Aso Rock villa, because renovation works going on in their official residences had not been completed. While the president currently operates from Defence House, Osinbajo is said to be residing in a private residence.
Ahead of their relocation, The Punch has learnt that there is currently an ongoing inter-agency cold war on who will be in charge of the president’s security.
A presidency source, who pleaded anonymity, said that one of the close aides of the president had written to the Nigerian Army, the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Nigeria police to send a particular number of their men to secure the state house.
According to the source, the head of one of the security agencies had refused to take action on the directive because the author of the letter had not been given any formal responsibility by the president.
The official noted that trouble started when some men of the Nigerian Army Intelligence Corps (NAIC) were driven into Aso Rock with the instruction to be deployed in strategic positions. The DSS officials on duty allegedly denied them access into the state house.
“The NAIC officials were first driven into the villa in a coastal bus on Saturday, but they were turned back by officials of the DSS. After a series of meetings, we were later told that we should allow them in. So they came in on Sunday while some others joined them on Monday.
“Naturally, it is DSS officials that are always in charge of the president’s inner security. But with this development, it seems they want to change the tradition and use the NAIC guys.
“The talk among operatives is that the development might be political considering the roles the DSS played in the build up to the 2015 general elections,” the source said.
According to another source, the DSS officials are currently at loggerheads with officials of a private security outfit, which is said to be owned by a retired DSS official who is close to Buhari.
The source said that shortly after the DSS officials arrived at the National Mosque, in Abuja on Friday to cordon off the place ahead of Buhari’s arrival for the Jumat service, about 30 officials of the security firm also arrived. The security officials intended to take possession of the mosque’s premises; however, their step was resisted by the DSS men who insisted that the responsibility to secure the place was solely theirs.
“After a lot of arguments, the officials of the security outfit agreed to leave the premises for the DSS officials as they were asked to go and stand outside the premises.
“That was the second time that the scenario played out in the mosque. On May 29 shortly after the president’s inauguration, that was the same way men of that firm showed up at the same mosque where the Commander-in-Chief worshipped,” the source added.
When contacted, Marilyn Ogar, the DSS deputy director of public relations, said that she had no information about the alleged rivalry between the service personnel and soldiers.
Meanwhile, there are indications that Buhari will not move into Aso villa until there has been a thorough spiritual cleansing in the villa. According to a villa source, the cleansing will be carried out by a team of Senegalese Marabouts.