There is currently tension in Aso Villa, Nigeria’s seat of power in Abuja, the country’s capital, as a fresh power tussle between President Muhammadu Buhari’s Personal Assistant and Private Secretary, Sabiu ‘Tunde’ Yusuf, and his wife, Aisha, the First Lady, gathers dust.
According to findings by SaharaReporters, trouble started on Monday when Yusuf returned from a private trip to Lagos where he had journeyed to alongside five women from Daura, Kano and Abuja to spend the weekend.
Upon his return to the Villa, he was asked by President Buhari’s Aide De Camp, Mohammed Lawal Abubakar, Chief Personal Security Officer, Abdulkarim Dauda, to self-isolate in order to protect the President and the entire State House Staff since he had earlier met with recent contacts of late former Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, Maikanti Baru, who passed away recently from Coronavirus related complications.
But rather than heed the advice of the men by embarking on a 14-day self-isolation, Yusuf, one of the most powerful and influential individuals around President Buhari, flatly refused and pushed his way into the Villa.
Worried that his presence could expose them to danger, the first family intervened in the matter on Thursday but rather than a solution being arrived at, things quickly spilled out of control after the security attached to the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, moved in and had Yusuf removed from the Presidential Villa.
Feeling slighted by that incident, the young man said to be in his early 30s connived with Buhari’s Chief Security Officer, Idris Kassim, to have the Federal Capital Territory Commissioner of Police, Bala Ciroma, arrest the First Lady’s ADC, Usman Shugaba, Escort Commander and other policemen attached to the first family.
SaharaReporters reliably gathered that all the arrested security attache to the First Lady are still in police cell on the orders of the CSO to the President and Yusuf.
A source in the Villa, who confirmed the development to SaharaReporters, said, “Since the death of late Chief of Staff to President Buhari, Abba Kyari, Yusuf had almost become the defacto “head of state” calling the shots in Aso Villa.
“The ADC and Escort Commander of the First Lady were unlawfully detained by the FCT Commissioner of Police under the instructions of the Chief Security Officer to the President, Mr Idris Kassim, and Yusuf.
“Yusuf in flagrant disregard of the Quarantine Act signed by the President, which prohibited interstate travels and in clear violation of the NCDC protocols and guidelines, travelled to Lagos and had seen visitors of more than 15 people every day against the advice of people he is working with.
“After his refusal to heed the call by the President’s security men, on Thursday evening, the first family got involved and insisted that he goes on self-isolation and again for the second time he refused.
“The first family recalled to him when one of the daughters of the President returned from school in London and had to undergo 14 days isolation. They said if she could do that, why couldn’t he do the same. When the situation was getting out of hand, the security attached to the First Lady had to intervene peacefully. Yusuf left the State House only for him and the President’s CSO to give directives to the FCT Police Commissioner to arrest the First Lady’s ADC, Escort Commander and other policemen attached to the first family.
“The protocols of the First Lady are still in police detention.”
Regarded as one of the wealthiest young men in Nigeria today, Yusuf until his appointment by President Buhari was said to be surviving on proceeds made from the sale of call cards in his native Daura, a small community in Katsina State in the Northern part of the country.
He is said to have gotten the name ‘Tunde’ after being likened to late Tunde Idiagbon, Buhari’s second in command during his military regime in the early 1980s, who was known to be powerful and strategic.
During Buhari’s 77th birthday in December 2019, Yusuf is said to have worn a Patek Phillipe leather wristwatch valued at $99,995.00 – about N36m.
Presidency sources said that the young man had amassed so much wealth in a short space of time that he can almost afford anything money can buy these days despite not from a wealthy background or having any known work history apart from serving in Buhari’s government.
Despite his glaring excesses and abuse for laid down procedures, President Buhari has refrained from calling Yusuf to order, it was gathered.
Interestingly, it is not the first time that individuals in the presidency would be flexing muscles against the First Lady and her family – in December 2019 for instance, Mrs Buhari accused Senior Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, as well as Mamman Daura, a nephew and close ally of her husband, of working against the first family.
She said that while Daura had continued to give a presidential directive without Buhari’s knowledge, Shehu had switched his loyalty from her husband to some cabals within the Presidency.
In a strong-worded statement, Mrs Buhari disclosed how Shehu had contributed to soiling her name.
She said at the time, “As spokesperson for the President, he has the onerous responsibility of managing the image of the President and all the good works that he is executing in the country. Rather than face this responsibility squarely, he has shifted his loyalty from the President to others who have no stake in the compact that the President signed with Nigerians on May 29, 2015 and 2019.
“To make matters worse, Mr Shehu has presented himself to these people as a willing tool and executioner of their antics from the corridors of power even to the level of interfering with the family affairs of the President. This should not be so. The blatant meddling in the affairs of a First Lady of a country is a continuation of the prodigal actions of those that he serves.
“Based on Garba Shehu’s misguided sense of loyalty and inability to stay true and loyal to one person or group, it has become apparent that all trust has broken down between him and my family due to the many embarrassments he has caused the Presidency and the first family.”