Wednesday, December, 20,2017
Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday said those found guilty in the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ikoyi cash scandal will be prosecuted secretly, even as his administration plans to overhaul the national security architecture.
In April, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had uncovered $43 million, £27, 800 and N23 million at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Buhari spoke at the Aso Rock Presidential Villa in Abuja while receiving a report of the panel established to review the operational, technical and administrative structure of the NIA.
Presidential spokesperson Femi Adesina, in a statement, quoted Buhari as saying that the Osborne Tower incident and its aftermath had brought to the fore, the need to review the entire national security architecture.
President Buhari said the present national security architecture has been in operation as established 31 years ago.
He said the discovery of monies in the flat at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, was an “unfortunate incident which rightly aroused public interest and outcry.”
|Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode.|
“All the circumstances surrounding the obtaining, keeping custody and disbursement of the funds have been examined by the Vice President’s Committee and all those found to be culpable will be made to account and appropriately sanctioned.
“However, it must be understood that this cannot be done in a manner that jeopardises national security or exposes the operations of any intelligence agency, which must, by nature be conducted in secrecy.
“Suffice it for me to assure all that justice will be done consistent with our anti-corruption policies,” the president said.
Buhari commended the Presidential Review Panel on NIA led by former Secretary to the Government of the Federation Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, for completing their assignment expeditiously.
He said the recommendations of the panel and that of an earlier committee headed by the vice president to look into the Osborne matter would assist the government in improving the operations of the NIA and the overall national security architecture.
“Your panel’s recommendation, informed as they are by your collective experience and expertise in this field, should in particular help to reposition the NIA to better perform its vital functions with greater professionalism.
“Once again, I thank you very much for undertaking this national assignment,” the president said.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was present at the presentation of the report by the panel which has Chief Albert Horsfall, Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim, and Ambassador Ezekiel Oladeji, as members.
How the fraud was executed
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) collected $289,202,382 in cash from the account of the National Petroleum Investment Management Services (NAPIMS) in February 2015 after the postponement of the general election, The Cable reported.
NAPIMS is a subsidiary of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) which manages the investments of the national oil company.
It was also from NNPC’s accounts that the office of the national security adviser withdrew the bulk of the $2.1 billion it got for “Boko Haram operations” in the months leading to the 2015 elections.
According to reports by TheCable, funds were approved for NIA’s “covert operations” by President Goodluck Jonathan and subsequently withdrawn in cash from NAPIMS account at CBN.
The entire NIA budget for 2015 was a little over N25 billion which was about $160 million at the time — further suggesting that the payment was extra-budgetary.
The Department of State Services (DSS) also got huge sums of cash in naira and dollars for “covert operations” in the run-up to the elections.
These revelations are coming in the light of the recovery of $43 million, £27,000 and N23 million in a flat in Ikoyi, Lagos state, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following a tip-off from a whistleblower.
NIA said it was its money and that it was meant for “covert operations” — according to reports.
There is now strong suspicion that the Ikoyi haul might have been part of the $289,202,382 released to the agency two years ago.
A presidency source had told TheCable that President Muhammadu Buhari was not briefed on the funds which were warehoused at a private apartment.
Although Oke reportedly said the apartment belongs to NIA, Sahara Reporters alleged that it belongs to Chobe Ventures — owned by Folashade Oke.
The now-suspended NIA DG has a wife named Folashade Oke, further fuelling speculation that it was a family affair.
But NIA is said to have claimed that the money was only “in transit” at the Ikoyi apartment for onward movement to the agency’s property elsewhere.
“The circumstances make everything suspicious,” the senior presidency official told TheCable.
Buhari has set up a three-man panel to investigate both Oke and Babachir Lawal, secretary to the government of the federation, over various allegations.
Oke was appointed by Jonathan as the NIA DG in November 2013 and retained by Buhari, even though he replaced other security chiefs in August 2015.
Oke’s tenure is up in November 2017.