EXCLUSIVE: Buhari secretly appoints nephew Tunde Sabiu as NIA director

President Muhammadu Buhari has appointed his unqualified nephew the position of an assistant director at the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Peoples Gazette disclosed.

Sabiu “Tunde” Yusuf, a nephew and domestic but influential aide to Mr. Buhari, was recently admitted as an assistant director at the nation’s external intelligence outfit.

President Buhari inserted Mr. Yusuf into the NIA even as he lacked requisite field and administrative experience to handle the rigours of the crucial intelligence top job.

Buhari has declined to make the appointment public to avoid yet another round of public clamour over his bias for northern supremacy in public service.

According to the Gazette’s report, a source who sought anonymity to discuss matters of national security, said Mr. Yusuf, said to be in his mid-30s, has not been regular on the job because of his primary duties at the State House.

“It is whenever he desires that he will be at work,” one of our sources said. “The claim is now that he is on secondment at the Presidential Villa but his career work is now at the NIA.”

“The reason he was granted an office that should take at least 16 years of career buildup is that the president wanted him to be in charge of NIA before he leaves office,” another source said

Presidency sources said Mr. Yusuf was sent to the NIA on the back of his “special skills” that Mr. Buhari said would “be useful” to the organisation.

But the move has now triggered squabbles within the NIA, with officials saying it would affect the knowledge base of future intakes.

“The NIA is where you are recruited from the bottom, made to undergo important training and then grow through the ranks,” the official said. “Bringing someone like this is not good for the system.”

“How can you bring a novice to this office when he has no capacity to train others that will be recruited into service from now on?” NIA official said. “This is just a way of further destroying the system by this president.”

Mr. Yusuf, a dreaded confidant of Mr. Buhari’s, has recently been reported as one of the richest Nigerians alive, after his stash of unexplained billions became a matter of envy even for Governor Godwin Emefiele.

Those who know him said Mr. Yusuf does not speak Yoruba, with one person saying his middle name, Tunde, was only because he was named after Tunde Idiagbon, a departed army officer who served as deputy to Mr. Buhari’s dreaded junta of 1983-85.

Having undergone his tertiary education at Bayero University Kano, as well as basic computer training at a public institute in Jigawa, Mr. Yusuf who carries out functions as President Buhari’s private secretary has no known corporate experience.

The presidential aide, son of Mr. Buhari’s niece Hajia Halima who passed away in 2018, was famous for selling call cards in his hometown Kaduna before being ferried to the State House in 2015.

“He was a recharge cards expert if you want to know about his occupational background,” a presidency official said. “But he has now found himself in stupendous wealth as a top access merchant in the presidency.”

Mr. Yusuf shot into national infamy in mid-2020 after reportedly shunning calls by First Lady Aisha Buhari to self-isolate upon his return from a trip to Lagos — at the time the epicentre of the raging coronavirus pandemic in Nigeria. His trip on presidential jet had flagrantly violated Mr. Buhari’s ban on interstate travel at the time.

Mr. Yusuf was said to have reportedly influenced the arrest of Mrs. Buhari’s security aides, following an altercation that had ensued as a result of his repeated non-compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols.

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