A former assistant to the sacked director general of State Security Service, Lawal Daura, has accused his former principal of extensive corruption, and has portrayed him as a man who serially betrayed his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, for money.
The assistant, Abdulwahab Abdulrahman, a retired senior SSS official, said he left the agency because of the scale of corruption and abuse there.
“I didn’t want my children to see news of my eventual arrest on TV.”
Mr Daura, who led Nigeria’s domestic spy agency since 2015, was abruptly fired on Tuesday by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo after he ordered a siege on the National Assembly.
The siege, which many Nigerians have characterized as a coup d’état, startled a nation that has struggled in the past two weeks to keep pace with rapidly unfolding political stunts ahead of next year’s general elections.
The cordon saw gun-wielding masked men blockading the federal parliament building in central Abuja, denying access to lawmakers and legislative staff. It was lifted several hours later, but only after Mr Daura was summoned by Mr Osinbajo and summarily dismissed. The acting president said the exercise did not receive authorisation.
Many Nigerians believe the move was to facilitate the removal of Bukola Saraki as senate president as punishment for his leaving the ruling APC last week.
But while such plot failed, it helped further galvanize public outrage against Mr Daura, a controversial figure who in the past three years managed to create for himself a notorious label as an outlawed official responsible for illegal detention, clampdown on dissent and disobedience of court orders.
Now, his former associate, Mr Abdulrahman, whom some described as Mr Daura’s former “right-hand man”, has spoken out on what he said was Mr Daura’s darker side Nigerians never knew. Mr Abdulrahman served as special assistant to Mr Daura until 2016.
Besides corruption, he said Mr Daura repeatedly betrayed President Buhari.
Messrs Abdulrahman and Daura were members of the Buhari campaign’s security committee in the buildup to 2015 election. The committee was led by the current Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Dambazau.
Mr Abdulrahman said he served as the secretary of the 25-member committee.
“I noticed immediately we started work that for Lawal Daura it is simply about the money,” he said. “In one of earlier meetings he suggested that we should request for one billion to start work. Where will Buhari see one billion to give us?”
We could not independently verify the claim. Mr Daura could not also be reached as he remained in detention Wednesday.
Some of his aides revealed that Mr Abdulrahaman was bitter after being sacked by Mr Daura, and cautioned his claims be treated with restraint. Mr Abdulrahman denied being sacked; he told this newspaper he left of his own volition.
But while several other sources in the security agency confirmed most of the allegations against Mr Daura, they said both men worked together for years either for good or for bad till they parted ways in 2016.
Still, they said the revelations, especially with Mr Abdulrahman waiving any claim to anonymity, provide a rare opportunity for Nigerians to get a glimpse of the illicit practices at a security agency that should be one of the nation’s most revered, and how corruption and partisanship have stunted the department’s potential.