…as Buhari orders investigation
…Security experts, lawyers react
By Dapo Akinrefon, Evelyn Usman, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Henry Ojelu
PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari yesterday directed security agencies to carry out proper investigation into the shooting that took place last Thursday within precinct of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
His reaction came as pan-Yoruba socio-political organisation, Afenifere, some security experts and lawyers described the incident as a dangerous precedent which puts the country in bad light.
Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, in a statement issued yesterday, also said President Buhari was not in any form of danger arising either from the deadly coronavirus infections or the reported shooting incident by security personnel.
The statement read: “The Presidency wishes to acknowledge concerns expressed by several members of the public regarding the recent incident among the occupants of the State House which escalation led to the arrest of some staff by the police.
Says he’s not in danger of COVID-19
“This is to assure all and everyone that the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, Muhammadu Buhari, is not, and was not at anytime in any form of danger arising either from deadly infections or the reported incident by security personnel which is currently under investigation.
“This particular incident happened outside the main residence of the President.
Armed guards and other security personnel assigned to the State House receive the necessary training of especially weapons handling and where they come short, their relevant agencies have their rules and regulations to immediately address them.
“Having authorized the proper investigation to be carried out into this unfortunate incident by the Police, the President has acted in compliance with the rule of law. That a minor occurrence is being used by some critics to justify attacks on the government and the person of President Muhammadu Buhari beggars belief. In this particular instance, the President says the law should be allowed to take its course.”
It would be recalled that there have been reports of disagreement between the First Lady, Aisha Muhammadu Buhari and a presidential aide, Sabiu Tunde Yusuf as a result of a journey embarked upon by the latter to see his family in Lagos. The personal aide of the President was said to have travelled to Lagos on a chattered flight to see the wife that recently delivered a baby boy.
On his return to Abuja, the First Lady was said to have told the aide to self-isolate and stay away from office for 14 days. The aide was said to have reported the circumstances surrounding his journey to the President, who reportedly approved that he should carry on with his duty in the office. Not comfortable with the situation, the First Lady allegedly sent her Aide-de-Camp, ADC, Usman Shugaba, to ensure that her order was obeyed by the President’s aide.
Trouble was said to have started on Thursday night when the First Lady and three of her children, Zahra, Halima and Yusuf, accompanied by some of her security aides, led by Shugaba, stormed the residence of Yusuf, House 8, by the Pilot gate of the Presidential Villa and insisted that Yusuf should proceed on self-isolation for 14 days to save the President’s family from the danger of COVID-19.
Yusuf had four days earlier returned from Lagos after visiting his wife who was recently delivered of a baby.
Sources familiar with the event said on reaching the House 8 Guest Chalet of the President, where Tunde resides with his family, there was an altercation between him and Mrs. Buhari, her children and her security aides that eventually snowballed into a near fatal brawl.
The sources said Tunde, who appeared helpless and clearly outnumbered, had to flee on foot.
The source said: “At about 6pm, I saw about four Police officers following Sabiu, he was wearing blue caftan and barefooted. We were wondering whether anything had happened to the President as Sabiu is a personal aide to the President and very influential in the government.
“They (Police) went to his house inside here (House 8) and scaled through the fence to arrest him. He also scaled the fence to escape the policemen because all exit points in the villa were blocked because of him.
There was a vehicle with a driver and one other person waiting for him. Immediately Sabiu managed to enter the vehicle, the police officers started struggling with the driver, even as the car was in motion and it nearly hit other vehicles at the park.
“The driver managed to control the steering and when the policemen could not stop the vehicle, they ordered that the barricade that leads to the entrance be closed as they were shouting close the gate! Close the gate! Unfortunately, the security personnel at the gate had closed for the day and the barricade was up. As Sabiu’s vehicle crossed the gate, there were gun shots, about three times but the vehicle managed to escape and sped off.
“There was confusion everywhere, that other security personnel, mainly operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, who were on duty at the Pilot gate rushed to the scene. By this time, he had been seriously wounded but successfully made it to the residence of Mamman Daura where he spent the night.”
The source said the Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Mohammed Adamu, following a briefing on the horrific incident, arrived the Presidential Villa Friday morning and ordered Mrs. Buhari’s ADC and all the police personnel attached to her who took part in the altercation and shooting arrested and detained.
Narrating the ugly incident, the source at the Villa, who asked to remain anonymous, said: “Let me explain what is really going on so that your journal and your readers can truly understand what is happening in the Villa now, the dynamics and 2023 presidential politics.
“Since Mallam Abba Kyari died, the First Lady has been trying to kick the President’s Personal Assistant who is also his nephew, Tunde (The president named him Tunde in honour of the late Tunde Idiagbon, his former deputy when he was military head of state) out of the Villa so that she can effectively wield full influence over him (The President).
“She believes Tunde and the President’s other relatives are blocking her from having full control of her husband and power in the Villa. But it is obvious that the President does not want this because he has encouraged Tunde to continue with his job. Tunde’s wife just delivered a boy in Lagos. So, he got the President’s approval to fly to Lagos to see her with his two sisters last weekend. He returned to Abuja last Sunday and returned to work on Monday. ‘He was, however, asked to self-isolate for 14-days because of the coronavirus pandemic by the Chief Personal Security Officer to the President, Abdulkarim Dauda and the President’s Aide-De-Camp, Mohammed Abubakar, but he told them that the President said he shouldn’t.
“On Thursday, when the First Lady heard that he was still coming to work, she asked him to self-isolate but he told her that the President said he didn’t have to. Her insistence led to a heated verbal exchange between them and the President was later informed about this.
”The President however took sides with Tunde and didn’t see any reason he should self-isolate at all. He said Zahra and Halima (Buhari’s daughters) left the villa to visit their in-laws when Halima’s husband’s uncle died recently and they didn’t self-isolate on their return.
”He also pointed to the fact that when his new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, went to Lagos too, he didn’t self-isolate on his return, so he didn’t see any reason why Tunde should. So, he overruled her.
“What happened on Thursday night is a big embarrassment. The First Lady and three of her children – Zahra, Halima and Yusuf – took some policemen attached to her, including her ADC to Tunde’s house.
”They didn’t like the way Tunde spoke to their mother, so they actually went there to fight him. During their confrontation with him, he was overpowered and clearly could not withstand their number, so he ran for his dear life. It was as he was running and they were chasing him that they shot a few times into the air. They chased him to the house of his uncle, Mamman Daura. Of course, they couldn’t enter Mamman’s residence to get Tunde but they shouted and made a lot of threats before they eventually left.
“Do you know that Yusuf later went back to Tunde’s house in the wee hours of the morning with a gas tank to burn it down? Thank God Tunde wasn’t home when he got there. That was what saved his life. The DSS is responsible for the security at the villa. Gunshots were fired at the villa and the DSS, that is responsible for security, has not detained the shooters? No one has been questioned.
”This is even a dangerous precedence for visitors to the villa, including Ministers and top government functionaries. This would send a wrong and scary signal. You can be shot at or brutally attacked in the Presidential Villa at the First Lady’s orders if you do go against her. This is not how it should be!
Reacting last night, Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Alhaji Aliyu Abdullahi, who is the First Lady’s spokesman, said if the First Lady’s security aides were withdrawn, it was only fair they were replaced. He said: ”If you respect the President, you should respect the wife. On COVID19, the First Lady is only protecting the husband because they are one. If the President contracts the virus, it will also affect her. This is why she is over-protective of her husband.”
Reacting to the security breach at the Villa yesterday, Some senior police officers who preferred anonymity, described the First Lady’s Aide-de-Camp, ADC Usman Shugaba’s action as unprofessional. They said Shugaba’s arrest along with other security details to the First lady by the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Ibrahim, was in order.
Already, an investigation panel made up of Deputy Inspectors-General of Police and Assistant Inspectors-General of Police have been set up to probe the root remotest cause of the shooting at State House. If found culpable, the concerned officers, it was gathered, would be dealt with accordingly.
One of those who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “ What happened was a total collapse of the security system around the Presidency. It also means a lack of central command for the unified security system there. I don’t see why the First Lady’s personal aides will get to any level of firing a single shot within the Villa.
“’First and foremost, we must understand that all different formations of the armed forces and all security agencies and commands operate in the Villa. Any single shot fired there is presumed to be a shot fired at the Commander-in-Chief. So for him, what he has just told Nigerians is that there is no command structure in-charge”.
A security expert who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “What I am concerned about is this: at what point was the shot fired? What would have been the provocation? What would have been the threat and consideration for firing the shot? These are what should be investigated.
However, I also would want to ask: did the First Lady have to enforce anything personally, using her personal aides? If there is no system in place to carry out the instructions of COVID-19, would it have ever got to the level of the First lady going personally with her aides to enforce it?
“Now, if that has to be so, whatever is the enforcement procedure would not have involved the ADC to the First lady. So, I think what happened there was a total breach of the security system in the Villa, not a passive one. It, therefore, means that whoever is the Chief Security Officer to the President and the Brigade Commander, has a lot to do. ”I am not trying to accuse anybody but the truth is that there is an atom of over zealousness on the part of the First lady.”
It shows there’s no one in charge —Afenifere
Reacting to the development yesterday, the pan-Yoruba socio-political organization, Afenifere, expressed worry that there was nobody to call people to order. Afenifere’s National Publicity Secretary, Yinka Odumakin, said: “The shoot- out is a fallout of what Professor Wole Soyinka called nobody not being in charge. When there is nobody to call anybody to order, it would come to a point people will be having their way. ”The implication is that different sections of the polity will be settling issues on their own once there is nobody to call people to order.”
Security experts, lawyers react
Also reacting yesterday, Dele Oloke, Chairman, Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Ikeja branch, said: ”It is an unfortunate incident which I believe could have been handled in a more civil ways. Aso Rock is the seat of government and any indication that all is not well is dangerous at this time.
”That a gunshot was fired over an issue involving the President’s aide and wife of the President, clearly shows that something is really wrong. Security of life and property is the primary responsibility of government and where that role is in doubt, we have a serious problem at hand.
”I think those around the President should find better ways of handling issues with respect to the authority of the President. What is happening there clearly indicates that all is not well.”
Similarly, Gbenga Ojo, Snr Law Lecturer, Lagos State University, LASU, said: ”The shooting sends wrong signal that the President is not even in control of his domestic affairs, let alone bigger security issues in the country.
”The incident is a clear disrespect to the office of the President. There is no basis why a gunshot should have been fired over the incident. What would have happened if the man was killed?
”This also shows the overbearing nature of the President’s wife. That is certainly not how to settle issues of such nature. The incident is a disrespect for the President and the nation.”