24 HOURS after VP Yemi Osinbajo and SGF Boss Mustapha both warned separately that cracks on the Nigerian wall could lead to its break-up, a scandalous report came out in the People”s Gazette showing how the DG of DSS has put a sharp knife to the rope holding what is left of Nigeria together through an insentive and impunitous lopsided recruitment into the agency.
Director-General Yusuf Bichi was said to have activated a lopsided hiring process that tend to overfill the State Security Service with personnel from the northern parts of Nigeria. Peoples Gazette reported based on official documents and contributions of senior intelligence officials.
The Gazette’s findings obtained over a period of two weeks showed that the North has a massive share of the roughly 1,300 Nigerians currently undergoing cadet training at two different camps of the secret police in Lagos and Bauchi.
Of the total 628 cadet trainees who had resumed at the Bauchi facility as of September 23, 535 trainees joined the service from either the Northeast or the Northwest. Only 93 were from either the Southeast, South-South, Southwest or North-Central.
The Gazette’s findings also show that at least 71 of those currently undergoing cadet training hail from Bichi Local Government Area, Kano State — the director-general’s home local government area. Officials said the number was more, but the Gazette could not independently confirm the higher figures — as well as a slew of other disturbing allegations of bigotry against Mr. Bichi — prior to its publication.
The list of candidates was not compiled by state, but officials believe a state-by-state breakdown would exist at the headquarters in Abuja.
In Lagos, the Gazette was unable to obtain official attendance records of trainees at the camp in Ojo, but multiple participants, including senior officials, said Mr. Bichi disregarded the federal character concept and skewed the process for Nigerians from the North.
A top official estimated 708 trainees were at the Lagos training facility as of September 26. Officials were unsure how many people were taken as cadet trainees in total because some were still arriving three weeks into the six-month exercise.
Senior intelligence officials said even though the sectional disparity mirrors Nigeria’s reality under President Muhammadu Buhari, they are, nonetheless, worried that the development could potentially tip the ethnic and religious balance of national security in favour of a section of the country for decades.
“Some of us are worried less about the audacity of focusing on one part of the country to bring in new cadets than we are about its long-term implications,” a senior DSS official told the Gazette “We know he might find it difficult, but the DG would leave a better legacy if he sees himself first as a Nigerian.
In July, the Yellow House sent out a memo to all state and FCT commands, informing them that Mr. Bichi had ordered a fresh round of recruitment for the agency’s next generation of intelligence officers.
Mr. Bichi directed that each state command should conduct a rigorous selection process and forward four successful candidates to the headquarters for possible admission into the service. The DG also imposed strict entry guidelines for every potential recruit, according to the July 6 memo.
The directive also cancelled a 2018 recruitment process that was underway at the time, but said those who were successful in that process may join the fresh exercise.
Mr. Bichi emphasised that the four candidates for each state must be below 30 years of age and be selected across the three senatorial districts that make up a state.
It was confirmed that all commands complied with the directive, conducted a thorough selection of four candidates and sent the results to the headquarters.
But shortly after the candidates were cleared and sent to the headquarters before the July 15 deadline contained in the memo, Mr. Bichi seized the moment and initiated a recruitment process of his own, the Gazette learnt.
On September 1, Mr. Bichi told a few officials at the Yellow House to call people from a prepared list and offer them a role at the SSS. Those who were called were immediately asked to go to the Lagos or Bauchi training school, officials said.
Starting September 8, cadet candidates reported for training in Lagos and Bauchi, in some cases without the awareness of the director of state security in the state they applied from, documents and officials said.
“I just heard that some people from the state where I work, including some who did not make the cut for the four candidates we selected and passed to the headquarters, had reported to the training school either in Lagos or Bauchi,” an SSS chief said.
“Based on the four-per-state arrangement, only 148 people should have been employed across 36 states and the FCT,” the SSS chief said. “But we suddenly discovered that training schools in Lagos and Bauchi had over 1,300 between them.”
Mr. Bichi kept the list of those he had been sending to the training school secret, officials said. It was unclear how many people he intended to recruit, but they kept showing up.
Mr. Bichi has kept the process largely to himself, making it difficult for insiders to access his list or the criteria with which he was selecting cadet candidates, officials said.
For a long time, the SSS did not admit candidates who had a third-class university degree or lower into the service. Only those who did well in university and polytechnic were admitted as a security intelligence officer (level two), equivalent to an assistant superintendent of police.
In recent years, however, the service has been admitting candidates who graduated with a third-class, but it has been placing them on a rank below that of a security intelligence officer, officials said.
In Bauchi, some of the candidates were asked not to bother checking in for training at all, according to information gathered.
In at least one case, a candidate was asked not to go to Bauchi for training, but to resume directly at the DDS state command in Kano, the Gazette learnt.
A female third-class graduate resumed at the Kano State field office of the secret police on September 22 without undergoing training. Her employment letter said she should resume immediately as a cadet officer but go for a basic course training in 2021.
The Gazette’s findings show that the woman is also from Bichi Local Government Area. Her identity was not revealed based on legal considerations.
In Lagos, the 708 candidates undergoing training are so many that some lecture halls have been converted to hostels, the Gazette learnt. The facility was not sufficiently equipped to take in as many trainees at once, officials said.
Mr. Bichi’s regional recruitment agenda came three years after his predecessor implemented a similar hiring process that failed to reflect Nigeria’s diversity.
In 2017, Premium Times revealed how the 479 cadet officers that were commissioned from the 2016 recruitment exercise were substantially from the North. Lawal Daura was in charge of the SSS at the time.
This worrying fits perfectly into the ethno-agenda of Gen Buhari which has manifested in running the country as if he heads only a section of it.
The Southern and Middle Belt Leaders Forum has taken the government to court based on its serial sectionalism.The case comes up at the Federal High Court in Abuja on 2nd October.
We will not cease to do all we can to rescue the country from the nepotic grip of President Buhari.
Chief Guy Ikokwu
Senator Bassey Henshaw
Dr. Isuwa Dogo