Officials of the Department of State Services attached to the Presidential Villa, Abuja were on Wednesday ordered out of the premises.
The inter agency rivalry between the Department of State Services and the Nigerian Army came to head, yesterday, as the Aide de Camp to the President, Lt. Col Abubakar Lawal ordered personnel of the DSS out of the villa.
The officials belong to the Body Guard Unit of the DSS and had been working in the Presidential Villa since the days of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
The situation, it had also been reported exclusively by this newspaper, led to the rejection of about 253 new operatives of the DSS recently redeployed from the service’s various state commands to the Presidential Villa.
Trouble started for the DSS operatives on Wednesday when a security aide of President Muhammadu Buhari went round offices in the evening to chase the DSS officials out.
He was reported to have said that a directive had been given that they should no longer be allowed access into the premises.
Some of the affected officials who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity expressed shock over the development.
They however said they would still resume at their beat on Thursday (today) except they receive a contrary directive from their headquarters.
“We were asked to leave the premises or risk arrest. As I am talking to you now, some of us are gathering under the trees while some others have left.
“It is surprising but we have no choice than to resume here again tomorrow (today) and see what will happen.
“The only reason why we may not come here is if we receive any other directive from our headquarters,” one of the officials told our correspondent on the telephone.
But the Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr Femi Adesina, said what happened was a realignment of security around the President which entailed that members of the armed forces would man the inner perimeter of the President security while operatives of the DSS would man the outer perimeter.
Some members of the armed forces were drafted from the Infantry Corps to the villa after the inauguration of President Buhari to man all the strategic points at the villa, a move that was resisted by the DSS personnel who had constitutionally provided close body protection to the President.
The issue, however, came to a head yesterday evening when the ADC to the president ordered members of the DSS at the Presidential Villa to hand over to men of the Nigerian Army.
The directive, however, almost caused an altercation between the army and men of the DSS whose chain of command is different.
It took the intervention of the Chief Security Officer who directed his men to “stand down,” a euphemism for complying with the directive of the ADC.
According to a soldier who was present at the incidence, “the ADC directed that they should hand over to us and leave the villa. We have now taken over fully as directed by the ADC and we are in charge.”
Already, military personnel have taken over all the strategic points at the villa with a firm instruction that no DSS personnel should be allowed into the villa.