Crisis between two top Nigerian security chiefs, the Chief of Army Staff Tukur Lt. Gen. Yusuf Buratai and the National Security Adviser retired Major Gen. Babagana Monguno, heightened on Tuesday when the former removed senior army officers from the office of the latter allegedly without sending replacements.
Although President Muhammadu Buhari has not formally reinstated Mr Monguno as NSA, he still holds the fort in the office, advises the president on national security issues, attends cabinet and security council meetings.
DAILY NIGERIAN exclusively gathered that the “mass transfer” of army officers critical to the smooth running of the office had laid bare the strategic office responsible for digesting intelligence reports and briefing the president.
Mr Monguno, it was gathered from informed sources, is not only on collision course with Mr Buratai but other heads of sister security organisations.
A few years ago, the office suffered a similar manpower drain when feud between Mr Monguno and Lawal Daura, a former Director-General of the State Security Service, led to the withdrawal of all the SSS officers from the ONSA.
Insiders said the latest “mass transfer” was effected without the knowledge of the NSA, and is the worst in the history of the office.
Credible sources confirmed to DAILY NIGERIAN that the Chief of Army Staff had transferred Major General Adeyinka Famadewa, the Principal General Staff Officer to the NSA. Mr Famadewa is simply the chief of staff to the NSA.
Others affected by the transfer are Major General Musa Etsu-Ndagi, the Director Defence Affairs; Brigadier General Jafaru Mohammed, the Director of Finance and Administration; the Special Assistant to the NSA, Colonel AA Ibrahim and; the Director Legal Intercept, SS Shehu.
Also affected are Colonel Adesuyi (Crisis Center), UF Abubakar (Counter-terrorism center), among others from the rank of colonel to Major General.
DAILY NIGERIA also gathered that before the latest development, Mr Buratai had transferred the Director of Communication in the ONSA, Brigadier General MT Abdullahi, a few weeks ago.
Implications of the Crisis
With the mounting security challenges facing the country, feelers argue that absence of synergy among the security chiefs is drawing the administration’s efforts at tackling security backward.
Insiders said the Office of the NSA under Mr Monguno has been looked down upon by the nation’s military brass, such that the service chiefs shun statutory meetings summoned by the NSA.
“This is the first time critical organs in the ONSA were removed in huge number. It is clear the decision was due to battle of egos between Monguno and Buratai.
“The fact of the matter is that the service chiefs are not honoring the invitations of the NSA. They shun the ICC (Intelligence Community Committee) and JIB (Joint Intelligence Board) meetings, which are statutory, or send representatives.
“This is not the situation in the past where the service chiefs never missed even non-statutory meetings like GESAC (General Security Appraisal Committee) meeting,” a source who preferred not to be named said.
According to the source, during such regular meetings, security situation in the country is tabled, appraised and solution proffered for onward transmission to the president through the NSA.
Efforts to get the official response of the Office of the NSA were unsuccessful as “nobody officially speaks for the NSA nor his office”.
Spokesman for the Nigerian Army, Colonel Sagir Musa, declined comment on the matter.