For watchers of the power configuration in the Buhari administration, the sack of Lawal Daura, former Director-General of State Security Services, yesterday was the end of a chapter in a complex power play at the presidential villa.
Recalled from retirement on July 2, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari to head the secret service, Lawal, a close associate of the president from his Daura homestead, was destined to be a major pillar of the power structure of the Buhari presidency.
And in the bipolar struggle for power at the presidency, Lawal understandably aligned with Mamman Daura, an erstwhile journalist and powerful business mogul nephew of Buhari, whose enormous influence on the president is well known. On the other side of the polar was Babagana Monguno, the National Security Adviser, who had on his side, Ibrahim Magu, the controversial boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Coming from the Daura homestead of the president and being a close ally of his powerful nephew, the former head of the secret service easily became the feet of the ‘cabal’ at the villa with so much gut and gusto that he could take any of the other power contenders without much ado.
This much played out in two instances. First was the controversial security report the DSS wrote to the Senate that effectively blocked Magu’s confirmation as the chairman of the EFCC. This brought him eyeball to eyeball with Osinbajo, who was favourably disposed to Magu’s appointment. In spite of the efforts of the vice president, who clearly by implication had pitched his tent with the NSA camp, Senate confirmation was withheld. But using his vast knowledge of the law, the vice president exploited a loophole in the 1999 Constitution to maintain Magu in office in an acting capacity.
That fight was barely over when another battle front was opened through the clash between Magu’s EFCC and the National Intelligence Agency over the latter’s safe house that was invaded by the former where about N13billion in several foreign currencies were seized. With the Director-General of the agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke sent on suspension and made to face an administrative enquiry at the instance of Osinbajo, who headed the panel with Monguno and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, as members, the stage was set for the second fight.
Perhaps motivated by the need to protect the independence of the intelligence community, Lawal stood behind Oke and offered to appear before the panel. Osinbajo working with Monguno blocked Lawal. And in spite of his working alliance with the Malami, Lawal could not stop Osinbajo from producing an adverse report on Oke.