EFCC quizzes former DSS boss Ita Ekpeyong

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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday arrested and interrogated a former Director General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS) Ita Ekpeyong over alleged financial misdeeds during his leadership of the security agency.

An attempt by the anti-graft body to question Ekpeyong last year was blocked by the sacked DSS boss Lawal Daura.

However, EFCC operatives, it was gathered, were able to pick Ekpeyong yesterday from his Asokoro residence in Abuja. He was quizzed on the utilization of the sum of N20 billion he was said to have received from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

When contacted yesterday, the spokesman of the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren confirmed that operatives of the commission arrested Ekpeyong in connection to state funds traced to him by the anti-graft agency.

He said Ekpeyong was interrogated and released by the EFCC yesterday.

Daily Trust reports that the funds were linked to extra budgetary money disbursed by the CBN to security agencies towards the end of the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan.

Investigations into the disbursements of the funds were triggered by the discovery of $43million stashed in a private apartment in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi Lagos, later linked to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

EFCC sources told Daily Trust that operatives of the anti-graft agency picked up Ekpeyong after he lost the protection of the DSS, which he enjoyed under Daura.

Daily Trust learnt that the interrogation of Ekpeyong is the first step before questioning Daura, over alleged fraud.

Daily Trust exclusively reported on Thursday that the EFCC is waiting to interrogate Daura to explain the utilization of N17 billion, being part of the money received by Ekpeyong from the CBN.

An EFCC source noted that investigators have to first get statements from Ekpeyong, before questioning Daura, in order to properly establish a logical case of how the funds were utilized.

Daily Trust also gathered that Daura is still in the custody of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF), but has been relocated to a ‘Police safe house’ in Abuja.

The Inspector General of Police Ibrahim Idris has also written acting President Yemi Osinbajo seeking permission to search the residence of Lawal Daura, TheCable report yesterday.

A source said the EFCC expects the police to make him available to its interrogators, after they are done with him.

DSS will review all cases of detention, Seiyefa says

Meanwhile, the new acting Director General of DSS, Mathew Seiyefa, said the agency under his leadership would review all cases of detention and perceived human rights abuses.

Seiyefa made this known yesterday during his maiden press briefing as DG, DSS at the Headquarters of the Service in Abuja.

He said, “We are reviewing at the moment all issues that have brought about, some unhelpful perception of the Service in recent times, including detention.”

“We are reviewing all cases of detentions, perceived human rights abuses, public perception and misunderstanding of the purposes of some of our recent actions,” he added.

He noted that the agency is taking steps in order to learn lessons from its actions that have been received adversely, in order to enjoy the confidence of the public.

He said in spite of critical reports about the role of the DSS, it would continue to protect the national interest and not any sectional agenda.

He said, “In doing all these, we are also cognizant of the fact that we are operating a democracy, with respect for the rights of people.

“Whether they are group rights or individual rights, so long as they are legitimate rights and they are engaged in legitimate actions, we respect that.

“And we would work on the basis of our core mandate, which is the detection and prevention of threats against the internal security of Nigeria, always bare this in mind,” he said.

He said the DSS would redouble its efforts in intelligence gathering, intelligence collection and also analysis.

He said, “Because one thing is to get the intelligence and another one is to analyse the intelligence to guide policy formulation, to guide security management.”

He said, “Some say agencies are fighting, some say agencies are at cross purposes and all that, but I would like you to signal strongly that we would partner and work with all agencies in improving the security of the country.”

Fielding questions, Seiyefa said the issue of a specific person to respond to media enquiries is under ‘active consideration’ adding that, “no matter how your work is, if you don’t carry along the media, the public would not buy in.”

Seiyefa said “Whether we would collaborate with other people, we are very, very sensitive and positively disposed to the issue of collaboration with other agencies.

“Just as we expect them to collaborate with us, where there are issues concerning them, we would also collaborate with them, like I said it is about the national interest.

Asked if detained former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki would be released from detention, Seiyefa said, “I have just taken over; I am being briefed, at the appropriate time, when I must have heard all the issues involved, would make a determination.”

He added that, “I think it’s too early for me to make a definitive statement; I am still receiving briefings from the right schedule holders and all that.”

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Godwin Okafor is a Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur and Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. He has over 16 years experience in financial journalism. His experience cuts across traditional and digital media. He started his journalism career at Business Day, Nigeria and founded Naija247news Media in 2010. Godwin holds a Bachelors degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. He is an alumni of Lagos Business School and a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania (Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists). Over the years, he has won a number of journalism awards. Godwin is the chairman of Emmerich Resources Limited, the publisher of Naija247news.

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