The Drama surrounding the huge amount of money discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Ikoyi, Lagos, continues take several twists and turns, as recent reports suggest that the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, who had claimed ownership of the Money, never briefed President Muhammadu Buhari on the discreet operations which the funds were supposedly for.
The NIA had reportedly claimed that the money was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan, for some “covet” security operations which necessitated the payment of the money in cash by the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, so as not to expose the operations.
According to the EFCC, the money, totaling $43.4m, £27,800 and N23.2m was discovered following a tip-off from a whistle blower.
However, credible online newspaper, The Cable, reports that government insiders described the NIA narrative as “a cock and bull story” as it was impossible for any security or intelligence agency to be involved in any “covet” operation without the knowledge of the Commander-in-Chief of the nation.
“It is impossible, probably treasonable, that a security agency will be carrying out covert operations without the knowledge of the sitting president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” The Cable quoted an inside government source as saying.
“The president has been in power for nearly two years now and not once did the NIA DG mention any such project to him, either at security meetings or one-on-one.”
According to the report, it has been established that former President Jonathan actually approved the funds in 2014, “But like the monies released for Boko Haram operations, the funds were diverted for non-security use. That is why they ended up in a private residence.”
“It appears the funds were diverted for the 2015 elections but some smarter guys kept part for personal use,” the source said.
The current NIA director general, Ayodele Oke, was appointed by Jonathan in November 2013 but has been retained by President Buhari.
It was reported that while EFCC personnel were carrying out the operation in Ikoyi, the NIA DG had approached the acting EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu to inform him that there were “covert” security funds in the flat being searched by the operatives.
But The Cable reports that Oke only told Magu that there were “sensitive documents” in the house and pleaded that EFCC should abort the operation, but Magu would not listen to him.
A security official was quoted in the report as saying that “Oke had never mentioned any discreet project being executed by NIA since he started holding security meetings with the president in June 2015.”
“He never mentioned anything of this nature to the president in private either. For him to be coming up with this story in April 2017 — for the first time — there is a clear case of an attempted cover-up.”
Recall that the former Chief Security Officer to ex-President Jonathan from 2010-2015, Gordon Obuah, died suddenly on Thursday after a “massive heart attack”, fueling speculations that he might also have known about the funds.
Obuah has been under investigation by the Department of State Services, DSS, which is said to be monitoring his movement for the last two years.
There are many reasons the claims by the NIA appear suspicious, The Cable reports.
“To start with, if the president, if the national security adviser and if other security chiefs were never aware of covert projects until now, that in itself is a big problem,” another top government official was quoted as saying.
“Second, if NIA needs such a huge amount of money in Nigeria, it has enough safes in fortified offices to keep it. It does not need an unprotected private residence. It makes no sense to keep the funds in a private residence without putting operatives on guard.
“Third, if a covert project was approved and monies were collected more than two years ago, are the projects still being executed? Why was no progress report filed with the president?
“Budgets are released yearly and unspent funds are retired yearly. There is also no record that the NIA sought exemption or got approval to keep the monies away from TSA.”
It was gathered that President Buhari is awaiting further reports from the national security adviser, Babagana Monguno.