The Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, appears to have taken sides with Abba Kyari in the chief of staff’s raging battle against the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno, PREMIUM TIMES can report based on fresh documents and knowledgeable officials.
In a move decried within the national security circles as being aimed more at “cutting the NSA to size” than maximising personnel efficiency, Mr Buratai ordered the immediate withdrawal of top army officers attached to the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) earlier this month.
A few days after seven colonels and three army generals serving at the NSA were ordered to leave without being replaced on February 4, the remaining team of 13 army officers serving at the NSA were notified to report elsewhere on February 10, leaving the fortified ONSA facility without any army protection, according to security sources and the notice of deployment seen by PREMIUM TIMES.
Twenty-three army officers serving at the ONSA were posted out without being replaced in two batches on February 4 and 10, documents showed.
Mr Monguno was away from the country at the time of the postings, our sources said, but he rejected the entire exercise as a charade upon his return and ordered the personnel to disregard Mr Buratai’s directive and remain in place.
Yet, Mr Buratai himself has not rescinded his decision, over two weeks after the first letters of deployment went out.
Mr Buratai approved postings of about 137 army officers serving in over a dozen military departments and formations between February 4 and 10. Twenty-three army officers serving at the NSA were transferred out without being replaced, the largest redeployment from a single outpost.
The officers consist of two majors-general, one brigadier-general, seven colonels, seven lieutenant colonels, five captains and one lieutenant.
Those affected include Adeyinka Famadewa, a major-general and principal staff officer to the NSA, PREMIUM TIMES learnt. Ado Ibrahim, a colonel and military assistant to the NSA, was also transferred and given three days to report at his new posting in Jaji, home of the military infantry in Kaduna State.
Other than core intelligence analysts of non-uniform career, the NSA, which coordinates all intelligence and security agencies of the Nigerian government, has always been staffed largely by personnel from security and law enforcement agencies in the country, according to officials familiar with its personnel practice.
“Any federal law enforcement agency you could think has personnel at the NSA, but most of the directors there are military officers,” a former official of the agency told PREMIUM TIMES.
The former NSA official, who spoke under anonymity because he is still in service, said all the agencies have the powers to make changes to their respective personnel serving there.
“But it has to be in liaison with the NSA before officers could be changed or withdrawn,” the source said. “This is because it takes a cumbersome process to vet personnel before they are admitted at the NSA and some requirements have to be satisfied before they are posted out.”