The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has invited some officials of the National Intelligence Agency for questioning, Newsdiaryonline has learntThose invited include a director (name withheld) as well as two accountants.
Though there has been no official statement on this latest twist, it is believed they were interrogated over the ongoing probe into the Ikoyi billions.
EFCC uncovered $43m cash as well as money in other currency at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi recently. The Director General of NIA, Ayo Oke said the money belongs to his agency.
The development led to the DG’s suspension along with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal.A three-man probe panel led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo concluded its work last week and it is scheduled to submit its report this week.
It was not immediately clear how President Muhammadu Buhari’s trip will affect the submission of Osinbajo’s report. Buhari’s media aide said Osinbajo will continue to run affairs in the president’s absence.
However, it was learnt that even as the panel was working on its mandate, EFCC continued with its probe into the cash haul by inviting the NIA official for questioning especially about the agency’s finances.
Sources were however divided over what the officials revealed to EFCC.A source critical of Oke said those questioned were “singing.” He even claimed that the NIA officials were detained over the weekend, a claim that checks at EFCC found to be untrue.
Another source close to NIA topguns confirmed that the officials were invited but they were in fact released early last week.The source said: “Early last week, a director and two accountants were invited by the EFCC but released unconditionally.”
When Newsdiaryonline contacted EFCC for clarification, an official said he was “not aware of any NIA officials” being quizzed.
Even more, there also appears to be disagreement among Nigerian experts over disclosures of NIA funds. Those kicking against full disclosure are being accused of trying to “deodorize the scam.” A source insisting on full disclosures argued for instance that “The most decorated and celebrated General in recent US history General David Petreaus as CIA Chief was disgraced from office. General Flynn is even a recent example. Investigation has opened on his relationship with the Russians because he refused to make full disclosure.”
Other officials at NIA argued that it was inappropriate to treat funds allocated for intelligence the same manner you as you handle normal programmes as there are always cover stories for security projects. But the most profound argument for caution on revelations on NIA expenditure was made by Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, a former minister of external affairs.
According Akinyemi, “External Intelligence operations do not belong into the same security genre as domestic security forces such as the SSS, EFCC and the Police.
“External Intelligence officers, otherwise called spies, do not operate under the same operational penalties as domestic intelligence officers.
“The ultimate penalty for a foreign spy in most countries is death. Countries go to incredible lengths to hide the identities of their agents both domestic and foreign and their operations. No receipts get issued. Budgets are called black budgets because they are never publicly acknowledged.”
How much of Akinyemi’s advice the federal government will take remains to be seen as the EFCC has dragged the cash haul to court seeking total forfeiture of the money uncovered.