President Muhammadu Buhari has promised to sanction everyone found culpable in the looted $43.5 million, £27,800 and N23.2 million recovered from a Lagos apartment earlier this year.

The president made this promise while he was receiving the report of the Presidential Review Panel on National Intelligence Agency (NIA) at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday, December 19, 2017.

According to a statement signed by the president's Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari described the discovery as an "unfortunate incident which rightly aroused public interest and outcry."

He said, "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 consistently with our anti-corruption policies."

The president fired the NIA's former Director General, Ayodele Oke, in October based on the recommendation of the Presidential Investigation Panel headed by Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo.

This was after Oke had laid claim to the recovered loot, saying it was earmarked by the agency for covert operations.

Since he was sacked, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has invited Oke, his wife, Folashade, and some other officials of the NIA for questioning in the relation to the recovery.

While speaking on Tuesday, the president also praised the Presidential Review Panel led by a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, for completing the assignment.

The panel had been tasked with reviewing the operational, technical and administrative structure of the NIA.

The president said, "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.

"The Osborne Tower incident and its aftermath have also brought to the fore the need to review the entire national security architecture, which has now been in operation as established 31 years ago.

"Once again, I thank you very much for undertaking this national assignment."

The other members of the panel; Chief Albert Horsfall, Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim and Ambassador Ezekiel Oladeji were also present at the presentation of the report.

History of Ikoyi loot

The loot was recovered by officials of the EFCC in Flat 7B, No. 16, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos during a raid on Wednesday, April 12, 2017.

A lot of controversy trailed the discovery of the loot, with public outcry, especially on social media, demanding that the culprits be brought to book.

The loot was initially claimed to belong to the NIA whenOke said that the amount in the apartment was marked for covert operations. After President Buhari suspended Oke and set up a three-man panel headed by Osinbajo, to properly investigate the matter, he was sacked on October 30.

The issue became even more controversial when Senator George Sekibo, a lawmaker who represented Rivers East senatorial district at the time, appeared at plenary with a whistle, claiming that the loot belongs to the Rivers state government.

Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike,further claimed ownership of the funds which he alleged were misappropriated from the state by his predecessorRotimi Amaechi.

Former aviation minister, Fani Kayode,and spokesperson of Ekiti State governor, Ayodele FayoseLere Olayinka also insisted that the apartment where the loot was found belonged to Amaechi. The current Minister of Transportation strongly denied the claims.

The loot has also been linked to former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)Adamu Mu'azu;  senator representing Lagos west,  Solomon Adeola; and an ex-managing director of Petroleum Products Pricing and Marketing Company (PPMC), Esther Nnamdi-Obue.

On June 6, JusticeSule Hassan of a Federal High Court division in Lagos ordered the final forfeiture of the monies recovered to the Federal Government.