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Latest reports have it that the huge amount of money recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from a residential apartment in Ikoyi Lagos actually belongs to the National Intelligence Agency, NIA.
Online Newspaper, Premium Times, reports that the money, totaling $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000, was a discreet allocation released to the NIA for “major but covert security projects.”
The newspaper quoted Presidency and security sources as saying that the funds were approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan following a briefing by the immediate past Director General of the agency, Olaniyi Oladeji, on the need for some “crucial and covert security projects”.
According to the report, “the funds were later released in cash directly from the Central Bank of Nigeria as a way of making its spending completely secret.”
The projects for which the money is meant for are said to be scattered across the country, “but there is a major one in Lagos being funded with the cash warehoused in the Ikoyi building”.
Premium Times quoted one of its sources as saying that “the spending on the projects cannot be subjected to the usual expenditure process, and that is why the funds are held in cash. If you like, you can call it illegal projects in the national interest.”
Only relevant top officials of the government and of the NIA are said to be aware of the issue.
As soon as he got wind of the operation by the EFCC, Present Director General of the NIA, Ayodele Oke, was said to have approached the acting chairman of the anti-graft commission, Ibrahim Magu, at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja, to brief him on the issue and get him to withdraw his men from the premises.
But Magu reportedly declined the request and instead directed his men to proceed with the operation.
Oke was then said to have rushed to the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to inform them of the matter and how Magu’s attitude was causing the NIA huge embarrassment.
Premium Times also reported that the NIA DG met with President Muhammadu Buhari in company with Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami to table the same complaints.
“Those who saw the NIA DG before he was called in to see the president said he had two bulky envelopes believed to contain paper and audio-visual records of the security projects,” the newspaper reported.
President Buhari has since directed Magu to forward to him a detailed report on the operation and to immediately deposit the funds with the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN.
Oke was also directed to properly document his complaints against the EFCC boss, and then reapply for the seized funds.
Premium Times quoted a top presidency source as saying that the President might direct Attorney General Malami to review the reports submitted by Oke and Magu, and then forward appropriate recommendations.
When the newspaper contacted presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina, about the matter on Friday, he said that “it’s a security issue, and not strictly a presidency issue,” directing further enquiries to the security agencies involved.
However, the NIA DG confirmed that the money belongs to his agency, but declined further comments when asked what the funds were meant for.
EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, also said that he had not been briefed on the matter.
Similarly, AGF Malami also told the journalists that he had not been formally briefed to take any action on the matter.
It should be noted that the EFCC had obtained a temporary forfeiture order from the Federal High Court, Lagos for the monies, directing that interested parties have until May 5 to come and explain why it should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government.