Of NIA wrongful dismissal, Dauda’s defense and justice

Few days ago, the Abuja Division of the Appeal Court reversed via a judgment, the wrongful dismissal of former Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Mohammed Dauda. KEHINDE OSASONA reminisces on the legal brawl.

The controversial dismissal

After five years of legal battle, respite, few days ago, came the way of Nigeria former Ambassador to Chad Republic, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda when the appellate court sitting in Abuja ruled in his favour.

His wrongful dismissal which made him seek refuge in the court turned out to be a wise decision as Justice Peter Ige of the Appeal Court in Abuja affirmed the earlier verdict of Justice Funke Anuwe of the National Industrial Court of Nigeria (NICN) in Abuja which reinstated him.

Dauda said he got sacked for allegedly failing to pay head of the President Muhammadu Buhari-appointed review panel on the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Babagana Kingibe $2 million as bribe.

Dauda alleged further that Kingibe, a former foreign affairs minister and Secretary to the Government of the Federation,(SGF), had, aside several monetary demands, pointedly asked him to pay the $2 million as protection money which they called “handshake” to be confirmed as substantive DG,  or be kicked out of office.

According to Dauda, when he failed to accede to Kingibe’s demands, which included sidelining the National Security Adviser (NSA), retired Major-General Babagana Monguno, as well as draw huge sums of money, Kingibe ensured that the man who was his secretary at the panel, Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, displaced him as NIA boss.

The revelations, according to him, formed part of a petition Dauda sent to the House of Representatives’ Committee on Security and Intelligence on the NIA $44m Intervention Fund. 

Apparently miffed by his removal, Dauda challenged the action of NIA management in court, arguing that his dismissal from service did not follow due process and was wrongful.

Dauda contended that in contravention of the law, no special management staff of the disciplinary committee was set up to investigate the charges against him and that he was not given any fair hearing in the process that led to his ousting him from the NIA.

The Court after finding out that Dauda’s dismissal fell short of the NIA Act, also ordered that he be paid salaries and entitlements from March 2018, till date.

Justice Anuwe held that under the agency’s rule, the appropriate committee to investigate disciplinary cases against management staff is the management staff disciplinary committee, “not the special management staff disciplinary committee”.

Dauda this medium recall acted as the head of the security agency from November 2017 to January 2018, when he was replaced by an aide to former President Muhammadu Buhari.

Dauda had spent just a few months on the job before he was unjustly removed. Interestingly, it took the embattled Dauda, who was allegedly dismissed by the agency sometime in 2018, a tortuous legal brawl to get justice.

As Appeal Court affirms NICN Judgment reinstating Dauda

While setting the record straight and affirming Dauda’s reinstatement, the court cited non-compliance with the service rules in his removal, and ordered the payment of his salaries and entitlements from March 2018 till date.

According to Justice Ige, who delivered the judgment, he said the evidence leading to the dismissal of Dauda was frivolous and lacking in merit.

The Judge also resolved all the contentious issues against NIA in favour of Dauda who is a respondent in the suit.The appellate court also gave an order that the sum of N1 million be paid to Dauda.

Justice Ige held: “Dauda should be allowed to retire in service in accordance with the stipulated laws.

“There is no evidence before the court that shows that the respondent has constituted any risk or breached any law.

“The appellant appeal is hereby dismissed for lacking in merit and the Industrial Court judgment is hereby affirmed.”

We will study court judgment for informed further action.

In a swift reaction after the judgment was handed down, the NIA came out to deny the reports that its former Director General, Mohammed Dauda, had been reinstated.

The agency said Dauda was never a substantive Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, adding that he only acted in that capacity after the tenure of Ayo Oke. The NIA insisted that Ahmed Abubakar is the substantive DG of the agency.

In a statement issued by the Head of Legal Department, Mr. A.H Wakili, NIA said the matter decided by the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal related to the dismissal of Mohammed Dauda as a Director of NIA for several infractions and breaches.

He noted that the certified copy of the judgment of the Court of Appeal “is being awaited to be studied for informed further action.”

It reads in part: “Our attention has been drawn to false and misleading reports circulating online regarding Ambassador Mohammed Dauda’s reinstatement as Director General of the National Intelligence Agency by the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division.

“It is important to clarify that Mohammed Dauda was never a substantive Director General of the National Intelligence Agency. He only acted in that capacity temporarily, after the tenure of Ambassador Ayo Oke, and a brief acting stint by Ambassador Arab Yadam, until Ambassador Ahmed Rufai Abubakar, CFR, was appointed substantive Director General by President Muhammadu Buhari.

“The matter decided by the National Industrial Court and the Court of Appeal related to the dismissal of Mohammed Dauda as a Director of NIA for several infractions and breaches.

“The substance of the present appeal for which judgement has been passed relates only to procedural matters in respect of the dismissal. The case in respect of the infractions and breaches is still pending for adjudication.

“This false and misleading story was planted by Ambassador Mohammed Dauda and his cohorts to mislead the public. Meanwhile, a true certified copy of the judgment of the Court of Appeal is being awaited, to be studied for informed further action.”

Dauda reacts

But while also setting the records straight in a statement personally signed by him and dated 23rd June 2023 with the  caption RE: MOHAMMED DAUDA

In the statement, the embattled former acting Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) insisted that he is a professional with verifiable records.

Dauda said:  “In the last four years or there about, since I left the service of the NIA: albeit unceremoniously, I have been under tremendous pressure from friends and well-wishers, to counter the propaganda being orchestrated by media hirelings of the leadership of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), against me. But, knowing that, they were mere attempts to cover up the crass ineptitude, nepotism, impunity, tyranny and administrative rascality and impunity, that is taking place at the nation’s apex Intelligence agency, I often did not find it necessary to respond to some of the vile allegations.

“Although it is an open secret that the NIA has been suffering bad press, following my removal as the Ag. Director General and my subsequent purported dismissal from the NIA, I find it rather strange, that I am being painted as the culprit behind the negative media, to the extent that I have been branded a saboteur of National Security, for choosing to remain silent in the face of all the vilifications. An issue that the FCA has cleared me thoroughly.

 “I take particular exception to one of such unprofessionally scripted piece, entitled: “MOHAMMED DAUDA: UNMASKING THE FACE BEHIND FRIVOLOUS NIA PETITIONS”, co-authored by one Ismaila Iliyasu and Ekenna Ellis Ezenekwe. Both characters in the said piece do appear to be insiders or even staff of the NIA.

“As a professional; with a verifiable record of tremendous outing, and as a former boss at the NIA, I must confess that I was least impressed, with what I read, as being the accounts of what the writers claimed they discovered. As a matter of fact, that piece was the shabbiest piece of investigation I have ever seen: maybe, next to the doctored findings of the so-called investigative panel that sat and recommended my dismissal.

“As far as I know, being the appointee in question, and as far as the records show, I was appointed Nigeria’s Ambassador to Chad by former Pres. Goodluck Jonathan in May, 2014. Pres. Buhari could not have appointed me in May 2014, one year before he became the President of Nigeria.

“At the time of my appointment, I was the D1, Regions at the NIA headquarters: effectively the third in rank, after the then DG, Amb. EO Oladeji and Amb. Ayo Oke. Each time the two were out of town, I had been the one in charge of all operations at the NIA headquarters. There was no other person above me.

“I wish to place it on record that I had protested the earlier appointment of a female Ambassador, who was lower than me in rank to a neighboring French speaking country before me. I was only pacified with the explanation that, the lady, who had failed her Deputy Directorship exams, once, at the time, was appointed on the insistence of her lover, a former NSA, as a consolation prize, after he failed to get Presidential approval to appoint her as the DG, or even one of the two DDG’s.

“They accused me of shunning the disciplinary committee set up by the present DG to probe me. As an intelligence officer, who has vast contacts within and without the NIA, I was aware that the said disciplinary committee now legally declared illegal, by all the Courts, had a preconceived mission, which was to recommend for my dismissal and to rubbish my career.”