Mathew Seiyefa’s reign as director-general of the Department of State Services (DSS) has come to an abrupt end.
Seiyefa was appointed DSS boss after Lawal Daura was fired for ordering an illegal raid on the National Assembly.
In the wake of the NASS blockade, the President Muhammadu Buhari led administration, to save face, accused Daura of conniving with top lawmakers to invade NASS and make the president look bad.
Voices loyal to the president and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also catalogued Daura’s many sins and trumpeted them online.
The Inspector-General of Police Ibrahim Idris wrote a report to the Presidency detailing how Daura pulled his anti-government stunt in collusion with top lawmakers police failed to name. Police arrested, detained and illegally arraigned journalist Samuel Ogundipe for writing about what the IG did. A court later freed Ogundipe after protests by concerned members of the public and media.
The idea was that Daura had to go because Buhari, who was outside the country when Acting President Yemi Osinbajo sacked the ex-DSS boss, would not tolerate corruption within his own government.
From then on, the general belief was that Buhari would not even dare touch anything Daura with a ten-foot pole. It was, apparently, an erroneous assumption.
Yusuf Magaji Bichi, who left the DSS earlier this year, has now returned after Buhari fired Seiyefa on Thursday. Bichi was finance and admin director under disgraced ex-DSS boss Lawal Daura. Of, course, this is no proof that Bichi is corrupt like the government alleged Daura was. It is just odd that the Presidency failed to state this fact – that Bichi was Daura’s “money man” – in the press statement presidential media aide Garba Shehu used to herald Bichi’s reign.
After Daura was fired, Abdulwahab Abdulrahman, a retired senior DSS official reportedly loyal to Buhari, questioned why the president waited for three years to fire Daura. Recall that it was Osinbajo who pulled the plug while Buhari was chilling in London. The Presidency had said Buhari gave Osinbajo the green light to punch the red button.
Daura and Abdulrahman were on a 25-member committee for Buhari’s 2015 election campaign. Abdulrahman said Daura was a corrupt government official who treated Osinbajo like trash.
“I noticed immediately we started work that for Lawal Daura it is simply about the money,” Abdulrahman told Premium Times.
“Daura was receiving money from everyone including the president’s enemies,” he alleged.
“What are we doing was mostly (working late into the night) receiving ‘Ghana Must Go’ (bags) filled with cash brought by enemies of government to him. The rate of corruption on that fourth floor was too much and the president doesn’t deserve this.
“He will go and get information on plans for (Senate President) Bukola (Saraki) and then leak it to him,” Abdulrahman said accusing Daura of betraying President Buhari.
He said Daura was so into the money he stopped sending aides to bureau de change but instead invited money changers to the office.
“They invite the secretary of the bureau de change at that Sheraton (Hotel) gate to come to the office late at night with their counting machines, counting dollars,” he said.
“When I had too much I decided to leave and I swore to the directors who wanted me to stay because of their personal interest that Daura will leave office in handcuffs because of what I saw.
“I was preaching to him that he needs to help Mr President because ‘you know you don’t deserve this office and he appointed you,’ because of that he stopped my pension for two years until I threatened to go to court,” Abdulrahman said.
At some point during these corrupt dealings, Bichi was the money handler for the DSS under Daura. The new DSS boss had retired after 35 years of service in 2017 as Daura’s finance and admin director but was retained by Daura for few months and then released in February, 2018.
Again, this does not mean that Bichi was corrupt.
We just assumed that Buhari would not want anything to do with an official his government disgraced out of office over alleged corruption and abuse of power – something Seiyefa was trying to correct.
After becoming acting DSS boss, Seiyefa promised to review DSS operations and reform the agency. He reversed Daura’s anti-transparency decision by naming a spokesperson for the secret police. He also tried redeploying DSS personnel but reportedly faced fierce resistance from Buhari’s chief of staff Abba Kyari.
Seiyefa also reviewed illegal DSS detentions paving the way for Jones Abiri, a journalist DSS illegally detained for two years, to regain his freedom. Human rights group were beginning to believe in the DSS. They even praised Seiyefa’s DSS. But the seeming reformer was fired hours after a court awarded N10 million in damages for Abiri against the government which detained him unlawfully.
Recall the Buhari-led administration said Daura was fired because he made DSS and the federal government look bad. Well, good things, as far as we know, were happening under Seiyefa. And he got fired for it or so it seems.
After Seiyefa’s predecessor Daura was fired, Bako Waziri Kyari, who claimed to be nephew to Abba Kyari, found his voice and levelled damning allegations against the chief of staff on popular talk show Berekete Family aired on Human Rights Radio 101.1 FM in Abuja.
Abba Kyari allegedly defrauded the village man of N29.95 million and used Daura’s DSS to harass, arrest, detain and frame the police officer who tried to probe the case. The Presidency, in response to the allegations, threatened to sue Punch for being one of the media houses that published the “libellous” claims.
Seiyefa is from Bayelsa State. Bichi is from Kano. Nigerians who hoped Seiyefa’s emergence as DSS boss could have helped Buhari prove he does not favour Northern Nigeria over the South, now accuse the president of regional jingoism.
We may have a bigger problem.