DRAMA : AS NSA, NIA CLASH OVER SEIZED N13BN CASH

There was confusion on Saturday over the seized
N13bn cash found in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos,
which was discovered by the Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission.
The seizure is the subject of an ongoing
investigation being conducted by Vice-President
Yemi Osinbajo; the Attorney General of the
Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN); and the
National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno.

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A highly reliable source said that the embattled
Director General of the National Intelligence Agency,
Ambassador Ayo Oke, hid the over $43m from
President Muhammadu Buhari and Monguno in a
private apartment.

However, the NIA replied swiftly, saying that Oke
mentioned the money to Monguno twice.
According to the source, while the suspended NIA
boss was widely reported to have claimed that
Monguno was aware of the existence of the money,
the NSA only got to know, for the first time, about
the existence of the money during the work of the
presidential committee that audited the Defence
Equipment Procurement in the Armed Forces.

The committee had observed certain payments from
the Central Bank of Nigeria to the NIA and raised
questions, drawing the attention of the NSA to the
funds.

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“The Presidential Committee on Audit of Defence
Equipment Procurement, in the course of its
assignment, came across an information that the
NIA received a huge sum of money in early 2015
from the former president (Goodluck Jonathan).

“Based on that, the NSA carried out a preliminary
investigation, during which the agency claimed the
money was released for some projects aimed at
commencing the NIA’s 30th anniversary. That was
in January 2017,” the top government source said.
The source added that a team was constituted to
ascertain the situation. The first suspicion of a
potential abuse, according to the source, was
noticed at this stage, especially considering the
amount of money involved and the purposes stated.

“This was how the NSA and the presidency learnt of
the existence of such funds. We were not told by
anyone in NIA until the committee saw something,
and raised a red flag,” the source noted.

He added that when Oke was compelled to explain
what was happening, “he still did not inform anyone
any Federal Government official or the Presidency
that he kept $43m cash out of the said funds at a
private apartment anywhere in Lagos or any part of
the country.”

There were also instances where the Central Bank of
Nigeria paid out some of the funds directly to some
NIA contractors, raising questions about why the
suspended NIA top gun needed to put aside such
huge cash in a private apartment.
In addition, it was gathered that the projects, for
which the former president approved the funds,
totalling $289m, included two in Lagos whose cost
was put at about $28m, which is way less than the
$43m cash found in the Ikoyi apartment.
The source explained further that, as of January this
year, funds for the Lagos projects had actually been
released to the tune of $18m, meaning that only
about $10m was left to be paid four months ago,
before $43m was found in the apartment.

As the three-member committee submits its report
on Wednesday, there are indications that the
suspended Oke may be indicted by the panel after
grilling at least seven officials of the NIA.
Another source within the presidency told one of our
correspondents that some of the officials quizzed
were those in the finance department of the agency.

The source said, “The panel has quizzed about
seven officials of the NIA, including the suspended
DG. The committee wanted to understand the
workings of the agency and if it was the norm for
such a huge amount of cash to be kept outside of
financial institutions.”
The outcome of the probe will determine if the
EFCC should continue with its investigation of the
NIA or not.

The NIA, however, said it briefed President Buhari
on the release of $289m by the administration of
Goodluck Jonathan in April 2015, a month before
his inauguration.
The NIA, in a statement, said in January 2016,
Moguno was officially informed of the existence of
the money in a memo.
The intelligence agency said, “We would appreciate
if the media can correct the allegations that the
NSA was not briefed. Please find below some
details:

“The first briefing was April 2015 to the President
on the state of affairs of the agency. The funds
were itemised as $289m intervention fund approved
and released to the agency by the (Goodluck)
Jonathan administration in November 2014.
“The second briefing was in January 2016; in a
memo to the NSA, he gave more details of the
funds.

“Based on the second briefing (memo) report, the
set up an audit team, headed by a brigadier
general, which inspected the projects and submitted
a report in February 2016.

“The NSA wrote back to the DG, NIA on May 17,
2016, stating that the detailed report of NIA’s
projects and exercises had been presented to the
President and the President was pleased with their
work.”

Courtesy:TNR

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