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DSS, EFCC face-off: How ex-security officer got caught in crossfire

From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja

The frosty relationship between the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DGSS), Lawal Daura and the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, may have worsened with the arrest and continued detention of a retired DSS Assistant Director, Abba Kaka Mohammed, the Abuja headquarters of the secret service agency.

Abba Kaka, who retired last year as an Assistant Director in the Office of the Director General, ADODG, has been a close confidant to both gladiators but became a victim of circumstance on suspicion of contributing to the worsening relations, which resulted in his arrest precisely on July 17 this year.

The face-off between the two heads of secret police and anti-corruption agency who have been locked in political and administrative rivalry since their appointments became an issue of public interest when the memo from the DGSS to the Attorney General of the Federation claimed that Magu lacks the prerequisite and necessary professionalism needed to prosecute the anti-corruption war of the present administration.

The memo informed the decision of the Senate not to confirm Magu’s appointment as EFCC chairman. The DSS indicted Magu for leaking various sensitive state documents to an individual currently under prosecution by his agency for alleged corruption.

The Service in the memo stated that for Magu to be allegedly neck deep in corruption and engaging in unprofessional conduct represented his preference for personal aggrandizement over national interest.

In the report titled, Request for Additional Documents/Information HAGF/DSS/2016/VOL.1/7, dated 19 December 2016, the DSS recalled how the Acting EFCC Chairman was indicted by the Police Service Commission in the minutes of its plenary meeting of December 20, 2010 chaired by the then chairman, Parry Osayande, a retired Deputy Inspector General of Police.

Part of the report read thus: “An officer appointed as Acting Chairman of EFCC should by all means be one of impeccable credential with proven integrity and capacity to lead the nation’s fight against graft in high and low places. Thus far, it is evident from Magu’s antecedents that he is by no means that kind of officer.”

Although the authorities of the DSS were yet to reply to the violation of Abba Kaka’s fundamental human rights by refusing to release or charge him to court for more than 50 days, a close source at the headquarters of the Service told Sunday Sun that the DGSS specifically ordered his arrest because he had become a security threat, as confidant to both feuding men.

The source further noted that Kaka who has done many questionable and dirty jobs for the DGSS was caught in the web of suspicion of possibly leaking DGSS’s sensitive secrets that could give the EFCC boss edge in the cold war raging between them.

“I knew that Kaka would be detained,” our source quipped, adding: “The DGSS who has never been comfortable with his closeness to the EFCC boss has been feeling insecure over the possibility of his leaking certain dirty deals he had done with him in the past, to the EFCC.

“Kaka has worked closely with the DGSS for several years, prior to his becoming the DGSS and he even retired last year in his office, where he performed the role of a Chief of Staff to Daura. But since his retirement the DGSS has never been comfortable with his closeness to Magu, who he has known for several years too. He found himself caught in the crossfire of the frosty relationship between the two heads of DSS and EFCC. His arrest is not unconnected with what many attributed to the deteriorated relationship between them.

“The arrest and detention became necessary because the DGSS, feeling very unsafe reasoned that detaining him should be the best way to gag him and sever his relationship with Magu. He felt that he might leak his secrets to Magu to give the EFCC boss edge over him on the cold war raging between them.  For the DGSS, the best way to silence Kaka is to detain him indefinitely. But I have to blame President Muhammadu Buhari, who still kept them in his service despite the obvious clash between them,” our source said.

However, miffed by Kaka’s continued detention in violation of his fundamental human rights, lawyers from Femi Falana chambers on behalf of Mohammed approached the Abuja Division of the Federal High Court on August 25 to declare the detention illegal.

The prayers Falana took to the court include the following relief: “A declaration that the detention of the applicant at Abuja by the first respondent in their detention facility since July 17, 2017 till date without being charged to court for a known offence is illegal and unconstitutional as it violates the applicant’s fundamental rights to personal liberty, dignity of person and fair hearing as enshrined in section 34, 35 and 36 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended) and Articles 5, 6 and 7 of the African Charter on Human Rights and Peoples’ Rights (Ratification and Enforcement) Act (CAP A10) Laws of the Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

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