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Recovered $50M Why NIA angle smells like burnt dodo

The angle that says the NIA owns the money found in a Lagos apartment, keeps smelling like burnt dodo.

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Acting EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu play

Acting EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu

(Punch)

On Wednesday, April 12, 2017, Nigerians were treated to a now-too-familiar sight by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

It was the sight of a stash of cash hidden somewhere.

Unclaimed and unmarked.

This time, the location was Flat 7B, N0. 16, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi.

The haul of cash was neatly arranged in different national currencies and concealed in cabinets.

The cabinets themselves were hidden behind wooden panels of a bedroom wardrobe.

Court grants permanent forfeiture of Ikoyi apartment to FG play EFCC official sweats it out while counting recovered cash (Twitter)

 

This was some serious shit.

The EFCC treated Nigerians to the sight of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 in raw cash in a time of recession and in a period where we need all the dollars and pounds we can lay our hands on to shore up a faltering economy.

You can now understand why the discovery of this money has dominated the headlines for a week now.

Nigerians are only managing to get by at this time and the EFCC has been pouncing on allegedly looted funds from Kaduna to Lagos and making a show of the discoveries, complete with TV cameras and live internet streams.

By some calculations, the money totals $50M. Some say it's $43M while some have put the cumulative sum at $48M.

The local equivalent stands at N13B.

Whatever, the image of that money hasn't disappeared from the consciousness of most Nigerians for a week now.

As it should be.

The sum is staggering and mind-blowing.

EFCC recovers cash from Ikoyi home play Neatly arranged discovered cash (Punch Newspaper)

 

What is even more staggering and mind-blowing is the controversy that has trailed the discovery of this humongous sum of money.

We have been treated to claims and counter-claims about who owns the money.

Some pinned it on former PDP chairman Adamu Muazu.

Others said it belongs to  former Managing Director, Operations, at the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue.

To cut a long story short, Nnamdi-Ogbue and Muazu have both denied that the money is theirs.

Former aviation minister Fani Kayode and spokesperson of Ekiti Governor Ayodele Fayose, Mr. Lere Olayinka have insisted that the apartment where the money was found and the money itself, belong to Transportation minister, Rotimi Amaechi.

Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike who hates the sight of Amaechi so badly, wasted no time in linking the money to his arch-enemy.

Wike has also demanded that the money be returned to Rivers State from where it was stolen by Amaechi who served as Governor of the oil rich State between 2007 and 2015.

5 times the Mace has come under attack in Nigeria's history play Rotimi Amaechi didn't find Wike's accusation funny (Sahara Reporters)

 

Amaechi and Wike have practically been hurling insults at themselves in the media for a week now.

But the strangest twist to this $50M saga is the one that says the money belongs to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

According to this version of events, the money was concealed in that Ikoyi apartment by the NIA which planned to use same for a "covert operation".

ALSO READ: Confusion rages over ownership of $50M

Various reports say the boss of the NIA, Ayodele Oke, has been furious with EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu for blowing the cover of the agency he leads and ruining the entire covert operation.

Magu's EFCC was in chest-thumping and celebratory mood when it found the cash last week.

EFCC even went as far as securing a forfeiture order from a court of competent jurisdiction.

For the EFCC, this was one more operation to show that it is indeed working.

Presidency sources have told Pulse and other media houses that the money has actually been claimed by the NIA and that NIA boss, Oke, has been running round the presidential villa in order to explain to President Muhammadu Buhari why this large sum of money was concealed in a private facility and not one of the many safes of the NIA.

NIA DG. Ambassador Ayodele Oke play

NIA DG. Ambassador Ayodele Oke

(Sahara Reporters)

 

There are numerous holes to pick from this NIA narrative.

First, the story says the money was disbursed to the NIA by immediate past President Goodluck Jonathan.

Jonathan left the villa in 2015. If the NIA hasn't spent $50M since the days of the Jonathan administration, when does it plan to spend the money?

If the money was part of NIA's budgetary provision during the Jonathan era, as has been claimed in certain quarters, why hasn't it been returned all this while as "unspent"?

The normal practice is to return unspent  budgetary funds in a fiscal year to the federal coffers. Why didn't the NIA do same?

Like we've pointed out earlier, if the NIA has to keep that amount of cash, it shouldn't be in a private facility.

For Pete's sake, the NIA is a secret intelligence security outfit--Nigeria's equivalent of America's CIA (Central Intelligence Agency).

Keeping that amount of money in a residential apartment was always going to jeopardise whatever "covert operation" or special project the NIA was cooking.

It doesn't make sense that a secret intelligence outfit would hide that amount of money in somebody's apartment.Whatever happened to the vaults of the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA)?

Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike blows a whistle play Wike thinks he has blown whistle on Amaechi (Twitter)

 

And since the NIA is primarily charged with external security, what was that huge amount of money doing on Nigerian shores?

And who rented this apartment? Why haven't Nigerians been given the name of the person who lives or lived in this apartment?

Certainly, the tenant and landlords must have names?

Unless of course the apartment was rented by the NIA. In which case, why was the NIA so careless with stashing cash in this apartment, so much so that whistle-blowers could smell the money from a mile?

The NIA isn't that clumsy and careless. Or so we thought.

If this money does belong to the NIA, then our CIA equivalent has been thrown up as a huge joke in the light of this saga and we should not hesitate to sack Oke and ring changes within the operational structure of the NIA.

There are more questions to be asked.

President Muhammadu Buhari and Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant-General Tukur Buratai play Buhari and Army Chief, Buratai (Daily Post)

 

Why wasn't President Buhari or any member of his cabinet briefed about this "covert operation"?

Why was the EFCC--a sister agency of the NIA--not even remotely aware that this money belonged to the NIA before it stormed the apartment, a horde of journalists in tow?

We have a serious problem on our hands if security agencies who should be singing from the same hymn sheet with respect to keeping us safe, don't even know what the other is up to.

We have a serious problem on our hands if an intelligence agency has been hiding millions of dollars in a residential building since 2015.

How many more security agencies do this and why, in God's name, are they allowed to do this?

ALSO READ: Buhari set to fire NIA boss

Are NIA monies exempt from the Treasury Single Account (TSA) policy of the federal government of Nigeria?

The more this whole saga is examined, the more it looks like a huge cover-up.

The more it looks like Nigerians are just being messed with here.

President Buhari has reportedly instructed that the money be deposited in the coffers of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

The NIA has plenty of explaining to do to get back this money and loads of questions to answer.

The fact that a media hugging and attention seeking EFCC has chosen to go quiet since this NIA angle broke in the local press last week, tells you that the Nigerian presidency has been left sorely embarrassed by this fiasco.

And just as well.

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