Contrary to denial by the Presidency that operatives of the Department of State Security (DSS) were not ordered out of the villa, it was authoritatively confirmed that the Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the President has formally informed DSS that its personnel would no longer provide close body protection for the President as they are being replaced with men of the Nigerian Army and Police personnel “who were trained as Presidential Bodyguards.”
Reports said Thursday that ADC to the President, Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal, ordered personnel of the DSS out of the Villa and replaced them with men of Nigerian Army.
However, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina said: “President Muhammadu Buhari has given no such order. While it is true that a reorganization of security at the Presidential Villa which involves the realignment of personnel from various services is under way, the exercise does not translate into the expulsion of DSS personnel from the premises in any way. The changes being made are routine adjustments which are not unexpected in any dynamic environment from time to time.”
But in a memo by the President’s ADC, he stated that DSS personnel have been withdrawn from close body protection of the President and are being replaced by members of the Nigerian Army and the Police, adding that he was acting “sequel to directives.”
7 areas to be taken over
The memo listed about seven areas which the military and the police are to take over from the DSS operatives “with immediate effect.”
Some of the areas listed in the memo which are no-go areas for men of the DSS were: Admin reception/passage; Service Chiefs gate; residence reception, office reception, among others.
It, however, noted that “personnel of the DSS in conjunction with other security forces are to man other duty beats/locations within the immediate outer perimeter of the Presidential Villa.”
From 1999 till the recent incident where DSS operatives were ordered out of the Villa, it was the service that provided close body protection and manned sensitive positions within the Villa while soldiers and the police manned the outer perimeter of the State House.
Already, the memo appears to have come into effect as only a handful of DSS operatives were seen at the outer perimeter of the Presidential Villa as military men in mufti took over all the other positions inside the Presidential Villa.
From the Administration reception gate, where visitors are first screened before they get into the main villa building to the council chambers gate, there were no DSS officers as only soldiers in mufti were seen in those places.
Also, within the residence and the office of the President, the DSS body guards who were usually at the gate and the entrance were absent as they were replaced by men of the Nigerian Army who were in mufti.
A few officers of the DSS were, however, seen under trees discussing in hushed tones as they awaited further directives from their superior officers.
It was learnt that senior officers of the DSS, including the CSO to the President, were trying to resolve the matter amicably.