Revealing the cabal in Aso Rock

Seven strong men around Buhari

Masters of intrigues, plots

‘They’re vestiges of Kaduna Mafia’


By Onwuka Nzeshi Abuja

Once upon a time, Nigeria was under the influence of a group known as the Kaduna Mafia. It was a group of politicians, young intellectuals, top civil servants, businessmen and high ranking military officers from the northern part of the country.

It was believed to had operated from Kaduna, the capital city of the defunct Northern Region.

They were so powerful that no key decision of the government, including appointments in the civil and security services could be executed without their knowledge.

The Kaduna Mafia held the levers of power and influence in Nigeria right from the 1966 counter-coup down to the rebirth of democracy in 1999.

They toppled every government that did not have their imprimatur during that era and any attempt to topple governments installed by them was treated as a rebellion and brutally crushed.

Many of its members were educated at the famous Barewa College and possesed a certain level of managerial competence. They were known for their intelligence, commitment to the traditional values and socio- political and economic interests of Northern Nigeria.

The group thrived on a robust network of alliances among northern aristocrats and top government functionaries who favoured the group’s northern and Islamic bent. Although it operated like a cult and had no open register, some famous names associated with the group include, Adamu Ciroma, Mamman Daura, Ibrahim Tahir, Shehu Musa Yar’Adua, Mahmud Tukur and Mohammadu Buhari.

In the last two and half years of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration, a lot of strange and unimaginable things have happened around the corridors of power.

Although many Nigerians from across regional divides made enormous sacrifices to ensure that All Progressives Congress (APC) won the historic election that brought Buhari to power, his famous “I Belong To Everybody and I Belong To Nobody” declaration in his inaugural address was a shocker to many of his benefactors who thought they were equal stakeholders in the new administration by virtue of their sweat and toil during the electioneering campaigns.

By the time, Buhari made his first set of appointments, political pundits were quick to identify that he actually belonged not to every Nigerian. It soon became apparent that his words and actions were guided by an informal group he had assembled to work with him.

In essence, those who are familiar with this shadowy group believe that they are behind the many controversial appointments of the Buhari administration. They are the brains behind the absolute secrecy surrounding the health of President Buhari and his frequent trips abroad to seek medicare.

They are the Cabal, a congregation of very close family members, trusted friends and political associates. They share a common ideology of holding strongly to political power and advancing the economic interests of the group and the North. They are an offshoot of the once dreaded Kaduna Mafia.

Earlier in the year when President Muhammadu Buhari’s health deteriorated and he was flown abroad to receive medical care, a member of the Arewa Consultative Forum (ACF), Dr. Junaid Mohammed, had accused some key officials of the Presidency of manipulating the situation for their own selfish reasons.

Mohammed, a medical doctor and former member of the House of Representatives, argued that by denying Nigerians free access to the President and keeping the status of his health as a secret, the officials whom he referred to as the cabal in Aso Rock were working behind the scene to feather their own nests.

According to him, the cabal was an offshoot of the once dreaded Kaduna Mafia which held sway in the 1980s, adding that, its members were exploiting the poor health status of the President by getting him to sign away huge contracts worth billions of dollars.

In an exclusive interview with Sunday Telegraph, Mohammed named one Mamman Daura, said to be a nephew to President Buhari as the head of the cabal. According to him, Daura is being assisted by Alhaji Abba Kyari, the Chief of Staff to the President. He also named the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation , Mr Babachir Lawal, as a member of the group.

Mohammed said Nigerians should not blame anybody but Buhari himself and the people he brought into power for whatever mess his administration is recording because “these people” will continue to hold Buhari and the whole of Nigeria captive.

First Lady, Hajia Aisha Buhari, had an interview with the BBC, Hausa Service, where she alluded to the presence of a group who have held her husband captive. Although she did not give any names, her description of the modus operandi of the group perfectly tallies with what Junaid Mohammed had told the world.

Members of the cabal have unfettered access to the President and they are usually abreast of his thinking and policy directions. They are his ardent supporters who do the odd jobs to safeguard the regime. They have their hands in every pie and have been fingered in most controversies, scams and scandals that have bedevilled the current administration.
Profile of those Nigerians believed to be member of the Cabal in Aso Rock.

Alhaji Mamman Daura, is an uncle to President Muhammadu Buhari. Although Daura is two and half years older than the President, the nephew-uncle relationship has been extremely close and dates back to their childhood years. For the two men, it has been bond of blood and mutual respect.

It is said that Buhari had always listened to and confided in Mamman Daura because of the mutual trust both men had cultivated over the years. However, critics say the relationship is too close for comfort because it has practically made Mamman Daura the defacto President in the current administration.

Daura is said to have studied Economics but went into journalism and rose to become Editor of The New Nigerian in the 1970s.

When the then Major Geberal Muhammadu Buhari overthrew the democratically elected government of President Shehu Shagari in 1983, Daura was one of the few people that Buhari trusted enough to give principal advisory roles. He later served as Head of the African International Bank and also chairman of the board of the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA).

Mamman Daura is alleged to have influenced most of the controversial appointments President Buhari made since the administration came into power. Daura was the one who singlehandedly brought up Abba Kyari, the current Chief of Staff to the President. No doubt, he simply brought into his uncle’s administration, his foster son.

He has no official portfolio in this administration but reportedly maintains an office in one of the guest houses in the Villa, popularly referred to as the Glass House. He parades a large retinue of staff and a fleet of official cars.

The story was told of how the wife of the President (Aisha) and her children once confronted Daura and blamed him for all the negative image the government had acquired, warning him to stay away from their husband and father. Perhaps, what they do not know is that Aisha may have known her husband for about thirty nine years but Buhari and Daura have maintained their bond of brotherhood for nearly more years.

Abba Kyari was born in 1938. He had his early Education at Borno Middle School and Barewa College, Zaria. He holds a Bachelors and Masters Degrees from the University of Cambridge and the University of Warwick in Law and Sociology. In 1959 he enlisted in the Nigerian Army as an Officer Cadet and attended the 12th Regular Officers’ Training School, Teshia, Ghana from March 1959 – September 1959.

Kyari proceeded to the Mons Officer Cadet School, Aldershot, England where he had training from October 1959 to March 1960.
He held various appointments in the army, including Platoon Commander and then Transport Offices in the 1 Brigade Transport Company, Second-in-Command and then Commander in the Nigerian Army Artillery, Commander of 1 Brigade, Kaduna and Commanding Officer 5th Battalion, Nigerian Army, Kano. In July 1967, General Yakubu Gowon appointed Abba Kyari Governor of North-Central State after it was formed from the Northern region during the military regime of Yakubu Gowon.

Although his regime was not tolerant to the media, he was among the top brass of the military who subtly advocated for a return to civilian rule during the Gowon era. After retirement from the Nigerian Army, he was appointed to the Board of Directors of First Bank of Nigeria, Standard Alliance Insurance and Merchant Bank of Commerce.

He became Chairman of Gamah Flour Mills and of Alif Engineering and Construction. He has also worked with the New Nigeria Development Company, New Africa Holdings, African International Bank, United Bank for Africa, Unilever, and Mobil in various capacities over the years. Kyari led the Northern delegates to the 1994 National Constitutional Conference, and was appointed Chairman of the National Defence Committee of the conference. He was appointed the new Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari on August 27, 2015.

Today, Kyari can safely be considered as the third person in the triumvirate of the Buhari administration. Although he is not from Daura by birth, he is by his adoption and association over a long period.

He is reputed to be the only person outside Buhari and Mamman Daura who knows the true health status of the President. It was the duo of Kyari and Mamman Daura who shuttled between Abuja and London during President Buhari’s prolonged medical vacation which lasted 104 days.

The first major scandal linked to him was the alleged N500m bribery involving officials of a major telecommunications firm which was in breach of Nigeria laws and doomed to go bankrupt if it paid the huge fine imposed on it by the Nigeria Communications Commission.

Although, Kyari has denied any link with the said transaction, the telecommunications firm had since moved on without undergoing the full penalties it was meant to hear for flouting the rules on registration of SIM cards Since Kyari is the clearing officer to the President and receives mails on his behalf, every leaked memo is a scandal in his office. He has not been at ease since a memo from the Minister of State, Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, leaked into the social media.

The most recent episode of a leaked memo was the salvo fired by the Head of Service of the Federation, Mrs. Winifred Oyo-Ita, in response to the query issued to her on the Maina scandal.

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The alleged altercation between Kyari and Oyo-Ita at the Council Chambers just before the Federal Executive Council meeting has gone viral on social media.

Lawal Daura was born in Daura, Katsina State, on August, 5, 1953. He attended Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria from 1977–1980 and started his carrier in the State Security Service (SSS) in 1982 where he rose to the rank of Director. He was the Deputy Director, Presidential Communication, Command and Control Centre, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, between 2003 and 2007.

He also served as State Director of the SSS at various times in Kano, Sokoto, Edo, Lagos, Osun and Imo states. He attended various professional courses both home and abroad including the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies, Kuru, near Jos.

His appointment to head the secret police was greeted with a lot of criticisms apparently because of the fact that he hails from the same village as President Buhari.

Many Nigerians viewed it as an act of nepotism but some others dismissed the objections as unnecessary distraction. He is credited with the conflicting security reports which have kept the appointment of the Acting Chairman of the EFCC in jeopardy till today.

If Daura were not part of the ministers serving in the inner temple, if he were not part of the privileged group running this administration, he would long have been shown the way out for daring to submit security reports nailing a nominee of the President who was due for confirmation by the National Assembly.

Colonel Hammed Ibrahim Ali (rtd) was born on January 15, 1955. He was Military Administrator of Kaduna State, Nigeria from August 1996 – August 1998 during the military regime of General Sani Abacha. He is married and blessed with 4 children.

Ali holds a Masters degree in Criminology.
After retirement from the Nigerian Army, he became Secretary of the Arewa Consultative Forum, a northern lobby group, He was appointed as the Comptroller-General of Customs on August 27, 2015.

Prior to his appointment as the helmsman of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Ali was the Chief of Staff to General Muhammadu Buhari throughout the period of his repeated attempts at the presidential election on different political platforms. Ali has been in the news several times for the wrong reasons.

It was he who lifted the ban placed on rice importation through the land borders by the previous regime.

The policy somersault led to a reversal of fortunes for rice farmers in the country. Much later, Ali succumbed to the public outcry that trailed his pronouncements and eventually the ban on rice importation was restored. He had a running battle with the Senate after the upper chamber of the parliament summoned him to respond to some issues in respect of his job.

He did not only shun the summon but when he reluctantly did show up, he appeared on mufti to the chagrin of the lawmakers who politely sent him away and gave him a fresh date to return in his official uniform. Ali has since gone to court to halt the parliament from interrogating him and compelling him to wear the uniform.

He recently relaunched the Buhari Support Organisation ( BSO), a common platform of the over 600 pressure groups mobilising towards the re-election of President Buhari in 2019. Critics of the regime have said that Ali jumped the gun when he launched the second term for President Buhari when the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) had not declared electioneering campaigns open. He is a member of the cabal, one of the untouchables and it is unlikely that INEC will impose any sanctions on him as it threatened to do when Governor Ayo Fayose launched his own campaign.

Abdulrahman Bello Dambazau was born on March 14, 1954. He is an indigene of Zaria in Kaduna State. Dambazau had his secondary education at Barewa College, Zaria, where he finished from in 1974. He then proceeded to the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, where he was member of the 17 Regular Combatant Course. In June 1977, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant into the Infantry Corps of the Nigerian Army.

In 1979, Dambazau also attended the US Army Military Police School, Fort McClellan. Dambazau later went to Kent University where he obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice in 1982 and a PhD in Criminology from the University of Keele in 1989.

Dambazau served as a Military Police officer, an Aide De Camp to the Chief of Army Staff in 1979. He also commanded military police units and then served as a Special Investigator from 1984 to 1985. It is worthy to note that Dambazau was made a Registrar of the Nigerian Defence Academy from 1993 to 1999. He also worked as Chief Instructor, Support Weapon Wing of the Infantry Centre and School from 1999 to 2001 and later as Directing Staff at the National War College from 2004 to 2006.

From 2007-2008, he subsequently served as GOC-General Officer Commanding 2nd Division, Ibadan. He was appointed Chief of Army Staff by President Umaru Yar’adua in 2008.

In October 2015, his name was forwarded as one of the Ministerial nominees to be screened by the National Assembly. He is currently the Minister of Interior under the current regime. Dambazzau has been fingered in many deals and plots of the current government including the ‘Mainagate’ scandal.

He is believed to have worked closely with the Attorney General of the Federation (Malami), the Director General, DSS (Lawal Daura ) and the Federal Civil Service Commission to secretly reinstate Alhaji Abdulrasheed Maina into the Civil service.

Abubakar Malami, Senior Advocate of Nigeria, was born on April 17, 1967, in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State. He is an indigene of Kebbi State and had his early education at Nassarawa Primary School, Birnin Kebbi from 1973 to 1979 and later, College of Arts and Arabic Studies. He proceeded to the Usman Dan Fodio University, Sokoto where he studied Law between 1987 to 1991.

Abubakar Malami then proceeded to the Nigerian Law School, Lagos, in 1992 where he was called to the Nigerian Bar.

He then obtained his Masters Degree in Public Administration from the University of Maiduguri in 1994. Between 1995 and 1996, he worked as Magistrate Grade II in the Kebbi State Judiciary. He was a member of the Local Government Election Tribunal for the 2003 Election and National Publicity Secretary, Muslim Lawyers Forum of Nigeria from 2002 to 2004.

He served in various capacities, including being a state counsel and magistrate in Kebbi State and teaching law at the Usman Dan Fodio University before going into private legal practice. He was also the National Legal Adviser to the defunct Congress for Progressive Change (CPC) and was one of those who worked closely to advance the interest of the All Progressive Congress (APC) especially the candidacy of President Mohammadu Buhari over the years.

Indeed, he was the Lead Counsel of the Legal Team of the defunct CPC right from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court, when he was the National Adviser of the CPC.

He was a member of the defunct CPC Merger Committee that negotiated the formation of All Progressives Congress together with the defunct ACN, ANPP and factions of APGA and DPP. He had been one of the consistent members of the opposition right from 2003 till the victory of the APC in the general elections in March 2015.

He sought for the nomination as the Governorship candidate of the APC for Kebbi State but withdrew from the race due to pressure from elders of the party. Before his appointment as the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, he was a private legal practitioner with a track record of demonstrated ability to lead diverse and complicated litigations.

His unparalleled performance in the legal profession resulted in his conferment with the respected rank of a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) in the year 2008.

After the successful outcome of the 2015 presidential elections which was won by APC, Malami was nominated by President Buhari to serve in the 19- man transition committee of the All Progressive Congress. He was sworn in as the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice on the 11th November, 2015.

Malami has been doing a yeoman’s job for the cabal and the government of the day He has perfected a style of issuing legal advice to save whom the cabal wants saved and send to the gallows whoever the regime wants crucified. His roles has again brought to the fore the clamour by constitutional lawyers and members of the civil society on the need to separate the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the office of the Minister of Justice.


Babachir David Lawal is a native of Hong in Hong Local Government Area of Adamawa State. He had his university education at the Ahmadu Belllo University, Zaria, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering in 1979.

Lawal had a brief stint with the Delta Steel Company, Aladja before moving on to Nigerian External Telecommunications Limited and Data Sciences Limited.

He thereafter founded his own Information and Communications Technology (ICT) and Telecommunications Consulting Firm in 1990. He is a member of the Nigeria Computer Society, the Nigeria Society of Engineers and the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria. He was appointed as the Secretary to the Government of Federation (SFG) on August 27, 2015.

He lost the position recently, following allegations of corruption brought against him by whistle blowers. He was alleged to have used his office to award questionable contracts to companies linked to him, a case of conflict of interest.

As if to make matters worse, one of the contracts worth about N200m was supposedly awarded for the cutting of grasses at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp in the North East region. Due to his entrenched powers and immense influence within the cabal, Buhari was initially reluctant to punish him.

Apparently to give him a soft landing and buy time, Lawal was merely suspended from office for several months. It took a resounding public outcry for him to be pulled out of the office. However, there are strong indications that Lawal is still in office by proxy as the new Secretary to the Government of the Federation as Mr. Boss Mustapha, is not just his cousin, but his nominee.

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