The Human Rights Writers Association (HURIWA) has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately resolve the controversy surrounding the appointment of Abubakar Rufai Ahmed as Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) and to probe Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, his Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and the new appointee over alleged corrupt practices.
A statement by Emmanuel Onwubiko and Zainab Ahmed, its coordinator and media officer, stated that after curious review of recent developments at the NIA, HURIWA was convinced that Rufai’s appointment smacks of nepotism, injustice and fraud, given the avalanche of allegations against the man.
According to them, the intrigues and manipulations playing out at the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, were a national embarrassment, as no amount of cover up can hide the fact that Abubakar Rufai Ahmed was the wrong person to be appointed DG of the NIA.
The statement accused the President of deliberately ignoring the national outcry from very credible organizations and individuals, including the management staff, Directors and officers of NIA, over the appointment of the new NIA DG, stressing that it made no sense under a regime that tags itself as honest and transparent.
“The President chooses to remain aloof to the general mood of the nation, by refusing to adhere to the overriding public interest and overwhelming public good. While we are not oblivious of the powers conferred on him by the law to make such appointments, we hasten to state that the same law prescribes definite criteria for doing so. The action did not only negate the law, and also a gross contempt of the principles of justice, fairness, honesty”, they stressed.
The organization described as worrisome the issue of alleged corruption by members of the committee that claimed to have worked out the blueprint for the turnaround of the NIA under the leadership of Ambassador Babagana Kingibe.
“It could be recalled that the former Acting Director General of the agency, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda, made far reaching revelations to the effect that money was allegedly demanded and collected from him under the guise of Mr President’s directives. And given President Buhari’s known posture over such issues, It will be necessary of him ….(to) muster the moral courage and political will in referring the matter officially to the EFCC for thorough investigation of Babagana Kingibe, Abba Kyari, Abubakar Rufai Ahmed and others mentioned in the former Acting DG’s brief to the National Assembly committee on National safety and Intelligence”, they further stated..
“We are irked by the fact that, if indeed the appointee was a staff of the NIA when he took up permanent and pensionable appointment with the United Nations, it presupposes that he has been found wanting in his ethical and service oaths, and does not merit any public office. Having held two permanent appointments from the NIA and UNAMID at the same time and retired from the two in the same year gives us sufficient grounds to approach the courts for a proper interpretation of the implications of his action, viz-a-viz his appointment as the DG of the NIA”, HURIWA also pointed out.
They foresee “an imminent embarrassment that may eventually and inevitably result in the demolition of this national institution in which the nation has over the years committed huge resources to train manpower and to operationalize its mandates. To put it mildly, Rufai’s appointment poses grave dangers to the nation’s intelligentsia which we, at HURIWA find very traumatizing”.
In passing a vote of no confidence on the National Assembly over the matter, HURIWA also described as callous and a display of nonchalance and unbridled pursuit of pecuniary interests, the yeoman’s job executed poorly by the Federal House of Representatives, particularly with the wishy-washy reports that emanated from that lower chamber of the national parliament, lacking substantially in logic and dominated by half-truths and manufactured justifications.
“We have, therefore, passed a deserved vote of no confidence on the Committee of the House of Representatives, on National Safety and Intelligence, headed by Mr Sani Jaji, in this matter”.
“Apart from the ethical baggage of total disregard for the binding Constitutional provision of Federal Character Principle in appointments which you as the President of Nigeria celebrated unfortunately as shown by this show of Shame which really is the best way to describe the choreographed appointment of the embattled substantives Director General of NIA, we are worried about the disturbing allegation that this man has doubtful citizenship being a Chadian by birth, as confirmed by Presidential spokesman, Garba Shehu in a Hausa Interview Programme on Vision FM Radio, with Umar Farouk Musa on Wednesday 31st January 2018”, Onwubiko and Ahmed argued.
The DG’s alleged escapades with female staff of the United Nations somewhere in North Africa which was a big question that hasn’t been settled with satisfaction against the background of the poor public relations gambit that the Federal House of Representatives committee did in place of a thoroughly executed forensic investigations, have also tended to ridicule the President, they said.
If somebody from Katsina State must be so appointed according to them, “we expect you to appoint a clean person, and not this character”.
The organisation maintained that its members took exception to the reports credited to the House of Representatives Committee Chairman on Public Safety and National Intelligence, Honorable Aminu Sani Jaji, to the effect that the embattled Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) has convinced his committee about his nationality, his marital status and his record of service.
“We share in this anxiety and well-conceived fear of most Nigerians of reputable integrity that these conclusions from the lower chamber of the National Assembly are hasty, preposterous and substantially deficient in common sense. We have the permission of our teeming members all around Nigeria to adopt this open model of communication because we are particularly saddened that the channel of direct communication with your good offices aren’t transparently administered”, they emphasized..
“May we, therefore, use this medium to serve President Buhari a 72-hour notice to suspend, forthwith, this controversial DG of NIA who from all indications does not merit such a high level appointment and follow the due process of the law with specific reference to the enabling legislation setting up the NIA in matters of appointment of DG or we will not hesitate to resort to litigation to compel Mr. President to do what is in the overall National interest of Nigeria.
While demanding for “the setting up of a judicial panel of inquiry into the shoddy vetting procedures viz-a-viz his scandalous conducts while working as UN staff., HURIWA expressed suspicion that members of the House of Representatives committee may have been compromised. Equally suspicious is the coordinated silence by the Senate and other relevant stakeholders in the face of this national embarrassment. We shall be left with no option than to open up on other facts at our disposal, as concerns the appointee and his paymasters”.
They raised posers, to include, “ First, in their letter to the committee of the lower chamber of the Parliament, serving Directors of the NIA had alerted of plans to clone and fabricate documents in trying to whitewash the new NIA DG. True to these suspicions, the legislators were not thorough in carrying out this job. We therefore demand further and better handling of this issue but not without the immediate suspension from office of the embattled Director General”.
“We propose the involvement of forensic expert to carry out the verification of all the documents tendered by the Director General. This must be done since substantive DG he has hurriedly assumed office of an agency that has all the facilities to forge and clone all types of documents with professional precision”.
“Whereas the two chambers of the National Assembly were composed to reflect our Federal Character, it is necessary to answer the question concerning the propriety of the appointment of the headship of two foremost security outfits from the same tribal stock, Local Government and the same state as the President? What happens to Federal Character in this case?”
“Another fundamental question to ask is why paragraph 4(1) of NIA enabling Act was jettisoned even as this provision stated in very clear terms that the Director General of the NIA SHALL be appointed from amongst the core of serving Directors, and whether Abubakar Rufai fits into that category when he was appointed”.
“We are aware that as a practice principle, a candidate for the office of the Director General of NIA is supposed to be vetted and shown to be above board”.
Alleging further that, “We note with concern that the NIA has admitted that its team did not travel to either Chad or Sudan for the vetting of Abubakar Rufai Ahmed. There is a dark window in the vetting process, which makes it a nullity. The questions to ask here include: how do we account for his childhood and early education. Who did he stay with in Chad besides his parents or guardian? Does he have any fanatical or terrorist tendencies or was any of his family members involved in questionable conducts and could they have at any point used him as a conduit or a Mole?”
HURIWA concluded by reinstating it’s 72-hour ultimatum for Mr President to suspend the DG of NIA and order broad-based investigations of all the emerging accusations against him or they will institute a case in the Federal High Court to compel adherence to best public interest.