The inter-agency rivalry between the Department of State Security (DSS) and Nigerian Army came to a head on Wednesday as the Aide de Camp to the President, Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal ordered personnel of the DSS out of the Villa.
The incident which happened at the residence of the President at the Presidential Villa was extended to all other points that had been manned by the DSS personnel.
But Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said what happened was a realignment of security around the President which entailed that members of the armed forces would man the inner perimeter of the President’s security while operatives of the DSS would man the outer perimeter.
Since assuming office as the President, there has been an intense rivalry between DSS personnel and the army over who is to provide close body security for the President.
Some members of the armed forces were drafted from the Infantry Corps to the Villa after the inauguration of President Buhari to man all the strategic points at the Villa, a move resisted by the DSS personnel who had constitutionally provided close body protection to the President.
The issue, however, came to a head Wednesday evening when the ADC to the President ordered members of the DSS at the Presidential Villa to hand over to the men of the Nigerian Army.
The directive, however, almost caused an altercation between the army and the DSS whose chain of command is different.
It took the intervention of the Chief Security Officer who directed his men to “stand down,” a euphemism for complying with the directive of the ADC.
According to a soldier who was at the scene, “the ADC directed that they should hand over to us and leave the villa. We have now taken over fully as directed by the ADC and we are in charge.”
Already, military personnel have taken over all the strategic points at the Villa with a firm instruction that no DSS personnel should be allowed into the Villa.
This is the first time that the DSS, which has the professional capability and capacity, would be stripped of its constitutional responsibility of providing close bodyguard protection for the President and his immediate family.
But Mr Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, said the action was part of a realignment of the security apparatus around the President.
According to him, what happened is a realignment of security personnel from various services, saying: ”Rumours that personnel of the Department State Services have been expelled from the Presidential Villa are unfounded. President Muhammadu Buhari has given no such order.”
Buhari did not expel DSS personnel from Aso Rock – Presidency
The Presidency last night dispelled insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari has expelled operatives of the Department of State Security from Aso Rock.
Mr. Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, in terse statement noted that Buhari never gave such order.
Describing the rumour making the rounds to this effect as unfounded, Adesina clarified that “the changes being made are routine adjustments which are not unexpected in any dynamic environment from time to time.”
The statement last night reads in part: “Rumours that personnel of the (DSS) have been expelled from the Presidential Villa are unfounded.
“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 to the expulsion of DSS personnel from the premises in any way.”