The Human Rights Writers Association, HURIWA, has urged Muhammadu Buhari, president of Nigeria, to immediately rectify 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 press release signed by Emmanuel Onwubiko and Zainab Ahmed, HURIWA’s National Coordinator and Media Officer, respectively 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 the statement issued in Abuja, the intrigues and manipulations playing out at NIA are a national embarrassment, as no amount of cover-up can hide the fact that Abubakar Rufai Ahmed is the wrong person to be appointed DG of NIA.
The release, which was made available to newsmen on Sunday, February 11, 2018, accused the President of deliberately ignoring the national outcry from very credible organisations 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,” HURIWA stressed.
The organisation 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,” HURIWA 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,” the group further said.
It said it foresees “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 operationalise its mandates. To put it mildly, Rufai’s appointment poses grave dangers to the nation’s intelligentsia which we, at HURIWA find very traumatising”.
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,” the statement argued.
“If somebody from Katsina State must be so appointed according to them, we expect you to appoint a clean person, and not this character,” HURIWA advised.
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 NIA Director General has convinced his committee about his nationality, his marital status and his record of service.
HURIWA said: “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.
“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.”
The group continued: “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 practical principle, a candidate for the office of the Director General of NIA is supposed to be vetted and shown to be above board”.