Mr Ayodele Oke, the suspended Director General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), has been declared not guilty, as President Buhari and NSA boss, Monguno approved the plan to keep the ‘loots’ in a secured secret location rather than bank. NIA also claimed phoning EFCC to call off their planned raid in their facility, but the financial crime agency refused.
As the President and his security chief are implicated in this alleged loot diversion, the case will die a natural death. Some Nigerian security experts on intelligence gathering, have also declared that Ayo Oke, is not guilty, over his secret stashing of $43 million, at a flat in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
This came as the 3-man Presidential Probe Committee headed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, swung into action, to unravel the mystery behind the huge cash, which was discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. However, Intelligence experts who spoke on Monday, warned that except the investigation is handled with extreme care, the nation’s intelligence community might be undermined with dire implications for national security.
They contended that because of the security implications of the operations of intelligence agencies, they operate largely undercover, making their modus operandi unusual, clumsy, and, in fact, sometimes illegal. “The unusual operational practices of intelligence agencies are a worldwide phenomenon,” a source said on Monday, adding: “When Nigeria needs to intervene in the politics of another country, say Liberia, to install a President that will support its policies, how do you think it does it? It is the NIA that is used. ￼
“Where in its books would you find such operational funds? Another typical example was the $400 million cash flown by the United States government to Iran, after a deal was struck to end Iran’s nuclear programme. “So there can be no such thing as money laundering as far as intelligence is concerned, because the agency’s operatives would always be in possession of money for covert operations,” he said. Did the DG, NIA comply with this law? Insiders revealed that Oke did.
In his April 2015 general brief to the President on the state of affairs of the agency, Oke itemized the $289 million intervention fund approved and released to the agency by the Jonathan administration, in November, 2014. In another memo to the NSA in January, 2016, he gave more details of the funds, including projects being undertaken, the amount expended, balance in the bank, and cash at hand. Based on his report, the NSA set up a verification team, which inspected the projects and submitted its report in February, 2016.
The NSA wrote back to the DG, NIA, on 17th May, 2016, stating that the detailed report of NIA’s projects and exercises had been presented to the President, who was pleased with the agency’s foresight in developing the critical infrastructure outlined in the report. If Oke filed his report with the appropriate authorities, why then is he in trouble? Insiders suggest that Buhari might not have read the reports, and secondly, that the inter-agency rivalry might have been at the root of his woes. Both might be at work.
While Buhari might not have been able to read the report, because of his busy schedule that was compounded by his health issues, the NSA, Ibrahim Monguno, is said to hate reading. Recall, that there has been a running battle between the EFCC and NIA, since April last year, over the financial operations of the spy agency. The EFCC had instituted a secret investigation into the Central Bank of Nigeria’s account of the NIA.
The intelligence agency only became aware of the investigation, when the account of Julius Berger PLC, one of the Contractors handling its projects, was blocked. Enraged by what it believed to be a breach of the law and security protocol, the NIA protested to the NSA, who in an April 19, 2016 memo to the EFCC, asked it to “refrain from the external audit of NIA and other intelligence agencies”, as it contravened Paragraph 12 (1) & (2) of NIA Instrument No 1, issued under the NSA Act, 1986.
The EFCC was apparently not happy with the NSA’s restraining order, insisting that it had the powers to investigate suspected financial crimes. The NIA opposed this claim, on the grounds that intelligence service involves national security, which cannot be inquired into by a non-intelligence body like the EFCC. This conceptual disagreement perhaps, explains why on April 12, 2017, when the NIA requested the EFCC to call off its raid on its Osborne flat, the anti-graft agency refused.