At a time Nigeria is facing serious security challenges from terrorists, bandits, kidnappers and other criminal groups, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA), a critical organisation charged with the responsibility of defence intelligence gathering for the armed forces and the nation appears embroiled in leadership tussle over the headship of the secret service agency.
The current DIA helmsman – the Chief of Defence Information (CDI), Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Sani Usman, is insisting he would not leave office until Thursday, February 12, 2021, when he will clock 58 years.
The decision has brought sharp division among the officers and staff of the agency. While some members of staff support him, others, it is gathered, including senior military officers, disagree.
According to sources close to the intelligence agency, the senior military officers are not happy that the CDI refused to embark on the statutory three-month terminal leave prior to retirement in line with Civil Service rule.
They also accuse him of over-staying in service, saying that he ought to have left the military two years ago when he clocked 56 years. It was alleged that all efforts made by Tukur Yusuf Buratai, the immediate past Chief of Army Staff, to remove the CDI and replace him with his (COAS) choice candidate met brick wall.
Born on February 13, 1963, in Kano, Kano State, AVM Usman was appointed Chief of Defence Information (CDI) on July 8, 2016, by President Muhammadu Buhari.
Despite over N2 trillion spent by government on the fight against insecurity in the last five years, security analysts blame the country’s inability to end the activities of Boko Haram and other terrorist groups on the failure of intelligence gathering by relevant institutions, such as the DIA.
Established in 1986, the Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) has the mandate to provide an efficient system of obtaining military intelligence for the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence.
Part of the objectives of the agency is the promotion of Nigeria’s Defence Policy and enhancement of military cooperation with host nations. It is also expected to assist other military formations in the maintenance of the territorial integrity of Nigeria and protection of lives and property of citizens.
Trouble was said to have started two years ago when the CDI was alleged to have refused to go on retirement having attained the mandatory retirement age of 56 years for Major-Generals and equivalents. Senior commanders and directors at the agency were alleged to have kicked against his continued stay in office, citing military regulations.
However, their expectation that the military high command would retire AVM Usman and appoint one of them as successor failed.
BusinessDay gathers from informed sources that the current internal wrangling and power play is affecting both the morale and performance of the rank and file, as many of them are said to have pitched their loyalty between the outgoing CDI and his likely successor, the current Director of Administration, Major-General G. Oyefesobi, as the duo were alleged not to be best of friends.
Oyefesobi, a former Commandant of Nigerian Army Training and Command College (NATRAC), was appointed Director of Administration on January 14, 2019. He took over from Major-General A.B. Omozoje.
The current CDI Usman was admitted into the Nigerian Defence Academy Regular Course 33 on January 10, 1983 and commissioned Pilot Officer in the Nigerian Air Force (NAF) on December 14, 1985. He took over from Major-General S.J. Davies as Chief of Defence Intelligence on July 8, 2016.
As at press time, all efforts made to reach AVM Usman or the spokesperson of the DIA on the matter proved abortive.