Are 17 security agencies headed by one section of Nigeria as claimed by Atiku? | Dailytrust

Are 17 security agencies headed by one section of Nigeria as claimed by Atiku?

Atiku Abubakar
Atiku Abubakar

Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the 2023 presidential candidate of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), has said if elected, his government will ensure that appointments to security agencies are fair and balanced.

Atiku also claimed that the 17 security agencies in the country are being headed by a particular section of the country under the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.

He made the claim during an interview with Arise Television’s Reuben Abati and Tundun Abiola on Friday.

Full Text: When asked how he would tackle the spate of insecurity in the country, Atiku said a lack of balance in the appointments of heads of security agencies in the country had fuelled agitations.

“You have to give every part of the country a sense of belonging. We have 17 security agencies in the country and everyone is headed by people from one section of the country,” the PDP presidential candidate had said.

Daily Trust analysed the statement by Mr Atiku and found out that of the two claims he made, one was false and the other is not completely true.

Claim 1: Nigeria has 17 federal security agencies

Verdict: FALSE

What are security agencies?

Security agencies are government organisations that are in charge of activities that border on intelligence for the internal security of a nation, which could be either domestic or foreign.

In addition, security agencies could also be in the practice of conducting counterintelligence to thwart other countries’ foreign intelligence efforts.

They are also saddled with the responsibility of protecting the territorial integrity and sovereignty of a country.

Checks by Daily Trust show that the major security agencies in Nigeria are 10; namely, State Security Services (SSS), National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the armed forces (comprising the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air force) as well as the Nigeria Police Force (NPF).

Others are the Nigeria Customs Service, Nigerian Correctional Service, Nigerian Security and Civil Defense Corps (NSCDC) and the Nigeria Immigration Service.

Consequently, Daily Trust sought the input of a security expert on why only these agencies are classified as security agencies when there are other paramilitary agencies that also carry out national security functions.

A security expert, Bello Abdulmajid, confirmed that the above-mentioned listed organisations are the basic and key security agencies in the country.

“The SSS, DIA and the NIA basically do intelligence information sharing. While the Army, Air Force and Navy ensure that the country is shielded and protected against enemies of the state.

“The Nigeria Police Force is in charge of maintaining law and order, Customs and Immigration are always at the borders to guard against smuggling of dangerous weapons as well as migration of foreigners or terrorists into the country respectively.

“Also, the Civil Defense does the work of protecting critical infrastructure and facilities of government while  Prisons Service, as it was known before, is in charge of isolating criminals from law-abiding citizens in their facilities.”

Speaking further, Abdulmajid said the number of security agencies in the country cannot be up to 17, except the former vice president mistook some law enforcement agencies and civil outfits to be part of security agencies.

He said, “I suspect Mr. Atiku had combined other agencies that share intelligence with security agencies and categorised them as security agencies

“For instance, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) are all law enforcement agencies because they share intelligence with security agencies.

“They are only law enforcement agencies and not security agencies. Many people make the mistake of categorising them as security agencies whereas they are not.”

Speaking further, the security expert said: “Most times I also hear people call the road safety corps and fire service as security agencies of government, but they are not. They are civil agencies of the government and not security agencies.

“The function of the fire service is to fight the outbreak of fire incidents in both public and private buildings and facilities, and road safety ensures that motorists maintain rules while on Nigerian roads. So where is the security function? These are just civil agencies and nothing more.

“You recall that the House of Representatives has rejected a bill proposing to arm personnel of the Federal Fire Service.

“The bill was meant to grant firefighters the power to bear arms to protect themselves from mob attacks while responding to emergencies. The lawmakers rejected the bill based on the fact that the Federal Fire Service is a civil outfit and not a security agency.

“So I think the PDP presidential candidate added security, law enforcement and civil agencies of government together to make it 17, which in the real sense is not true.”

Another security expert, Kabiru Adamu, said although some agencies like the NDLEA, ICPC and EFCC are law enforcement agencies, “they can be subsumed into security agencies in a general description.”

“Some of these law enforcement agencies are categorised as law enforcement agencies because they share intelligence with security agencies which is why, in a general description, they are subsumed and categorised as security agencies.

“However, in a distinction classification, agencies like the NDLEA and EFCC remain law enforcement agencies by nature of their constitutional mandate,” Mr Adamu told Daily Trust.

Conclusion: Following the findings by Daily Trust and expert opinion on the number of security agencies in Nigeria, the claim by Mr. Atiku Abubakar that Nigeria has 17 security agencies is false.

Claim 2: Nigeria’s 17 security agencies are all headed by one section of the country.

Verdict: False

Daily Trust checks show that although the majority of the national security agencies are headed by people from northern Nigeria, there are also those headed by southerners.

State Security Service

The State Security Service (SSS), otherwise known as the Department of State Services (DSS), is the basic domestic intelligence agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

The agency is primarily responsible for gathering information and intelligence within the country, especially for the protection of senior government officials, such as the president and state governors. The agency is headed by Mr. Yusuf Magaji Bichi from Kano State, North West geo-political zone.


The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is a federal government agency responsible for overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations.

The NIA is also one of the entities created after the National Security Organization (NSO) was dissolved and the country’s security services were being restructured.

The NIA is headed by Amb. Abubakar Ahmed Rufai, who hails from Katsina State, North West geo-political zone.

Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA)

The Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) is the basic military intelligence agency of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The agency was established in 1986 and is responsible for providing an efficient means of obtaining military intelligence for the Nigerian Armed Forces and Ministry of Defence.

The DIA is headed by Maj. Gen. Samuel Adebayo, who is from Ekiti State, South West geo-political zone.

Armed Forces

The Armed Forces of Nigeria comprise the Nigerian Army, Navy and Air Force. The Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces is President Muhammadu Buhari. However, the coordinator of the three Armed Forces is the Chief of Defence Staff, who is General Lucky Irabor from Delta State, South South geo-political zone.

Nigerian Army

The Nigerian Army is the land division/branch of the Nigerian armed security guard services. It is the largest of the armed forces. The Chief of Army Staff is Lt. General Faruk Yahaya from Sokoto State, North West geo-political zone.

Nigerian Navy

The Nigerian Navy is the sea division/branch of the Nigerian Armed Forces. The Chief of Naval Staff is Rear Admiral Awwal Zubairu Gambo from Kano State, North West geo-political zone.

Nigerian Air Force

The Nigerian Air Force is one of the largest in Africa, consisting of about 10,000 personnel. It is responsible for aerial support for the other divisions of the armed forces. The current Chief of Air Staff is Air Marshall Oladayo Isiaka Amao from Osun State, in the South West geo-political zone.

Nigeria Police Force

The Nigeria Police Force is mandated to protect people’s lives and property; prevent, detect and investigate crime; and prosecute offenders. It is headed by the Inspector General of Police, Usman Alkali Baba, from Yobe State, in the North East geo-political zone.

The Nigeria Immigration Service

The Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS) is the federal government organisation responsible for border security and migration management in the country.

The NIS has witnessed a series of changes since it was extracted from the Nigeria Police Force in 1958.

 The service is saddled with the responsibility of issuing all Nigerian travel documents, which include the Nigerian passport. The agency is currently headed by Idris Isah Jere from Kaduna State, North Central geo-political zone.

Nigeria Customs Service

The Nigeria Customs Service is an independent customs service under the supervisory oversight of the Nigerian Ministry of Finance. It is responsible for the collection of customs revenue; facilitation of both national and international trade.

The NCS also undertakes anti-smuggling activities, which is one of its security functions. The service is currently under the leadership of retired Col. Hameed Ali () who hails from Bauchi State, North East geo-political zone.

Nigerian Correctional Service

The Nigerian Correctional Service (NCoS), formerly the Nigerian Prison Service (NPS), is a federal government agency that operates prisons.

The Comptroller General of the Correctional Service in Nigeria is Haliru Nababa from Sokoto State, North West.

Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC)

The primary function of the NSCDC is to protect lives and properties in conjunction with the Nigeria Police. Also, one of the crucial functions of the corps is the protection of pipelines from vandalism, and in rare cases, the agency is also involved in crisis resolution efforts.

 The NSCDC is currently under the leadership of Ahmed Abubakar Audi as the Commandant General. He hails from Nasarawa State, North Central.

Conclusion:  Findings by Daily Trust show that although many of the heads of security agencies are from Northern Nigeria, the claim by Mr. Atiku is false as some of them also come from the southern part of the country.

This fact check is produced in  partnership with the Centre for Democracy and Development (CDD).

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