Yusuf Bichi has resumed duties at the State Security Service, a day after his appointment was announced amidst nationwide uproar.
Peter Ifunanya, a spokesperson for the SSS, said in a Friday night statement that Mr Bichi held talks with senior staff members upon resumption earlier on Friday.
His resumption ended the short stay of Matthew Seiyefa as the SSS chief. Mr Seiyefa was appointed on August 7 to lead the SSS following the summary dismissal of Lawal Daura.
Mr Daura was blamed for the siege laid to the Nigerian parliament by SSS operatives in the morning of August 7. Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, in his capacity as acting-president at the time, sacked Mr Daura for deploying such a large detachment of officers without authorisation.
Mr Seiyefa’s appointment was widely hailed at the time, and even officers at the SSS celebrated the end of Mr Daura’s tenure, which was characterised by gross violations of the Nigerian laws and defiance of legal institutions.
Mr Buhari was not in the country at the time, having proceeded on a 10-day vacation in London days before. But presidential spokespersons released a statement that the president was in support of Mr Osinbajo’s action.
But events that played out upon Mr Buhari’s return indicated largely that the president was not comfortable with the decision of his vice and was already moving to undo it.
Initially, the president and his inner circle were plotting to reinstate Mr Daura, but the scheme became public after PREMIUM TIMES published how SSS insiders were opposed to it.
Mr Seiyefa was also asked by Abba Kyari, the president’s chief of staff, to reverse some of the routine administrative decisions he took as the acting SSS DG. These included postings of officials and approval of retirement leaves for concerned personnel.
The report raised nationwide concerns, and several groups, including a forum of southern leaders, condemned the plot to remove Mr Seiyefa and warned Mr Buhari against actualising it.
The leaders, including Ayo Adebanjo and Edwin Clark, said Mr Buhari had already packed key national security positions with people from his northern region and should leave Mr Seiyefa in place; a needed balance, they said, which would also reflect Nigeria’s diversity.
When Mr Buhari went ahead to announce removal of Mr Seiyefa yesterday, the leaders were amongst the first set of Nigerians angered by the development. They condemned the president’s action as insensitive, careless and ethnocentric.
They said Mr Buhari’s decision to ignore about six senior personnel at the SSS who should have been appointed to favour a man from Kano State who has already retired from service about a year ago was divisive and provocative.
On Friday afternoon the government defended its position, with Information Minister Lai Mohammed describing the outrage as misplaced. Mr Mohammed said Nigerians should do an analysis of all the federal appointments Mr Buhari had made since assuming office in May 2015 rather than focusing on only the security sector appointments which always leads to unbalanced conclusion.
Read the full statement by SSS on the resumption of its new director-general below:
This is to announce that the new Director General, Department of State Services, Mr. YM. BICHI, fwc assumed office at the National Headquarters of the Service, today, 14th September 2018.
The DGSS addressed the Management and called for members’ support. While calling for stronger ties among the staff, he pledged to work with them as a team.
He stated that his vision is to build a well disciplined, professional and highly motivated DSS with particular reference to staff welfare.
Also, he affirmed that the Service will support government agenda on rebuilding the economy, stamping out insecurity and fighting corruption.
He enjoined the Staff to refocus their intelligence collection efforts in this direction. Similarly, he implored the
management to ensure that the Service respects rule of law and human rights.
It would be recalled that the President on 13th September, 2018 appointed Mr Bichi as the substantive Director General of the Service.
He is an astute and versatile administrator; a highly detribalised Nigerian and an Intelligence Officer of immense repute.
His exciting career in the Service spanned a period of 35 years during which he served in different Commands and Formations.
He indeed possesses a high level experience and exposure that will no doubt reposition and make the Service one that Nigerians and personnel will be proud of.
Afunanya, Peter N.
Public Relations Officer,
Department of State Services,
National Headquarters, Abuja
14th September, 2018