A group of concerned military and intelligence officers have voiced their deep concern about new schemes being fine-tuned by a cabal within and outside Aso Rock to retain power even if President Muhammadu Buhari’s health crisis renders him permanently incapable of reclaiming the presidency.
The officers had earlier drawn attention to moves by a coalition of forces around Senator Bukola Saraki and Abba Kyari, President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, to hijack power in the event that the ailing president’s failing health leads to a power tussle.
They now claim that some ambitious top government officials, members of the cabal, have designed a strategy to wrest power from Mr. Osinbajo using a combination of propaganda and some military-backed action.
The security sources remarked that the present leadership vacuum in Nigeria was the same scenario during the Presidency of the late Musa Yar’Adua. As Mr. Yar’Adua was sick and languished in a Saudi hospital, the cabal around him erected a strong barrier between him and Nigerians, ensuring that the people were kept in the dark about their president’s deteriorating condition.
The sources asserted that, during President Yar’Adua‘s prolonged medical leave in Saudi Arabia, the then military leadership saw the tenuous situation in the country as ripe for a power takeover. According to them, the then Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau, set up informal contact and action groups in Lagos with Ikeja cantonment as the focal point for controlling the commands in the larger Lagos area. They said a second group was established in Kaduna and Jaji while the third group was set up in Abuja where the control center was located. They said regular meetings took place during the first and second quarters of 2010. the current National Security Adviser, Mohammed Babagana Monguno a retired Nigerian Army Major General played a major role in smuggling a braindead Yar’adua into the Aso Rock Villa during that period.
However, the sources said that the then Acting President Goodluck Jonathan received solid intelligence briefing about the military’s plan and ordered his trusted associates in the security services to institute around-the-clock monitoring of the situation within and outside the military. When it became clear that the situation was on the verge of turning dangerous, Mr. Jonathan arranged to send General Dambazau on an assignment abroad and then retired him before he could conclude the mission. The then president’s move was seen as a masterstroke that saved the country’s nascent democracy, according to the security group.
They warned that the country’s current circumstances are similar to the Yar’Adua days, adding that a new set of power-hungry actors in top government positions believe that Mr. Buhari’s health problems provide another opportunity to try their luck at grabbing power.
The officers noted that, in May 2017, current Army Chief of Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, raised the scare of a coup d’état, adding that, two months later, nobody had been arrested and no further revelations made about the ostensible coup plan. Describing General’s Buratai’s talk as “a fake coup scare,” the security sources said it was part of the cabal’s propaganda to test the prospect of seizing power with military might.
The officers stated that Mr. Buratai’s high profile interview on BBC’s “HardTalk” was arranged by a political cabal to burnish his image, but his performance was so awful that the outside world was disappointed.
The sources claimed that the recent launch of a book on Brigadier General Zakariya Maimalari in Abuja on July 3, 2017, provided a cover for members of the cabal to converge on Abuja to further polish their power takeover strategy.
The sources urged Osinbajo to order his trusted security and intelligence hands to be attentive to any small detail or unnecessary movements in order not to be caught unawares by the machinations of those who seek to exploit the vacuum created by Mr. Buhari’s absence to enthrone themselves in power.