Nigeria’s acting president on Tuesday fired the head of the Department of Security Services (DSS), a local intelligence agency directly under the presidency.
Lawal Daura was axed in connection with a temporary blockade at the premises of the National Assembly (NASS) complex in Abuja. After ordering his firing, the DSS chief was arrested and detained by police officers, some local media portals reported.
The reports noted that he was detained for endangering national security with the siege on NASS. The action of armed, masked operatives raised tension as opposition lawmakers accused the government of an assault on democracy.
Osinbajo is acting as president in the absence of Muhammadu Buhari who is currently on a ten-day vacation in London. Buhari has in the past fired some top officials including Secretary-General to the federation, Babachir Lawal and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) boss, Ayo Oke – for acts of corruption and lack of judgment respectively.
Security forces temporarily blocked the entrance to Nigeria’s parliament on Tuesday, preventing lawmakers and others from entering for up to an hour, witnesses said.
Witnesses said armed men wearing the black uniform of the Department of State Security stood at the gates of the building, where they were later joined by police officers.
A Reuters witness said security agents, some of whom were masked, then allowed lawmakers to enter but continued to bar government agents and journalists.
A senior aide to Senate President Bukola Saraki was among a number of people who tweeted pictures and video from outside the National Assembly building. One showed the arrival of police outside the building and another showed a man, described as a senator, talking to a man flanked by an armed man.
Meanwhile, a former governor and now senator, Goodswill Akpabio, who was the Senate Minority leader in the ticket of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has resigned his position as minority leader.
Reports over the week indicated that Akpabio was on his way to joining the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC). He met with Buhari in London – where the president is on vacation.
When he returned to the country, he went to meet Bola Ahmed Tinubu, APC national leader and former Lagos State governor. Akpabio’s defection is expected to be officially announced in the coming days.
A Nigeria Police Force spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Saraki, whose Senate role makes him Nigeria’s third most senior politician, is among a group of lawmakers who have quit President Muhammadu Buhari’s ruling party over the last few weeks and joined the main opposition.
The defections precede presidential and legislative elections early next year.
Buhari plans to seek a second term in the February 2019 presidential vote but the loss of influential figures and divisions within his party could cost him support from powerful patronage networks and among voters.