EFCC’s Recovered $50MILLION found in Lagos Hiding for 2019 ELECTIONS, Nigeria Intelligence Agency Lied…Why Nigerians may never know True Identity of the funds’ owner
*Nigeria’s Anti-graft Agency at Cross-roads, Under Pressure by CABAL
* ‘Federal Government Plotting to Shield Real Owner of Slush Funds’-Chief Willy Ezugwu, Secretary General, Conference of Nigeria Political Parties
* ‘Treasury looters keep money in Graveyard, Forest’-Lai Mohammed, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture
* ‘The Notes NIA is claiming not issued by Central Bank of Nigeria. CBN issues mint fresh notes ONLY to BANKS’-Isaac Okorafor, CBN Spokesperson
* Nigerians Angry, take to Social Media to vent their Annoyance
BY THOMPSON KELECHI/ANTI-GRAFT EDITOR, ABUJA & LOLA IBAYEDE/CRIME REPORTER, LAGOS & LAUREETA CLEM/SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, INVESTIGATION NIGERIA
SHOCKING INVESTIGATION carried out by our team of experienced crack reporters has proven that the found $43,449,947, £27,800, and N23,218,000, totaling $50million hidden inside an apartment, at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos by Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was kept away purposely to be used for 2019 Elections by the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Our correspondents discovered that the $50million, a fall-out of the proceeds and balance of 2015 Election’s Campaign Funds were allegedly diverted by few politicians without the knowledge of the Presidency into a secret apartment in Lagos. These few politicians are believed to be very powerful in Nigeria’s corridor of power, seen as ‘untouchables.’ They are more described as Cabal, who by their position in the government of Nigeria could take any action, even in the last minute on any issue of National Security, and nothing would happen.
It was to avert been traced during and immediately after the victory of APC in the 2015 Election that the Cabal resolved too keep this controversial 50million away in the Ikoyi apartment, and not in any Nigerian bank, which would have attracted a red flag by Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) based on the apex bank’s regulatory banking policies on deposits in Nigerian banks.
The Nigerian Presidency, sources said was kept away from this manipulation and diversion of funds because President Muhammadu Buhari’s open position on war against corruption is in no doubt. It was believed by the Cabal that if Mr President had been aware, he would have immediately ordered the funds be returned to the coffers of the government, since he detests corruption.
But historic moves made by Ibrahim Magu led EFCC to bursts the Ikoyi home hideout of a Nigerian politician where this huge sum of money was kept in apartments belonging to another Nigerian public office holder in the Transport ministry had thrown spanner in the works of the Cabal, who felt all their plans to financially capture 2019 Election is already waning.
This immediately drew anger from Nigerians from all works of life. Sensing the danger, lawlessness and protests that may ground the activities of the federal government as a result of this exposure by EFCC, the Cabal began to put enormous pressures on the anti-graft agency NOT TO MENTION THE NAME(S) OF THE OWNER OF THE FUNDS OR APARTMENT OWNER under any circumstance for the purpose of National Security.
The Nigerian Presidency was briefed, made to see the spiraling effect of lawlessness, break-down-of-law and order that may accompany the EFCC revelation of the true identities of persons behind the fund. President Buhari, our security sources was assured the Cabals were taking this step to save the nation and ensure stable National Security.
It was at this juncture, the idea of Nigeria’s foreign intelligence service, Nigeria Intelligence Agency, NIA was muted to claim responsibility and ownership of the $50million so that the identities of the fund’s owners would be shielded and the money returned to the coffers of the Federal Government and no arrest or prosecution would be made.
That was the reason NIA reacted 24 to 48 hours after EFCC made the hidden $50million open to the world and claim ownership of the fund. NIA, as a soft-landing for the owners of the funds explained that the money found on the seventh floor of the building was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for covert operations and security projects covering a period of years.
According to NIA, “The money was released in bits during the tenure of a former NIA director-general. The cash was approved before the advent of the Treasury Single Account made by Central Bank of Nigeria.”
Due to the national importance of this issue, the Director-General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke; the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu; and the National Security Adviser to the Nigerian Presidency, Babagana Moguno, had met over the issue. A Presidency source also confirmed the meeting to one of our correspondents.
The NIA source explained that when EFCC operatives arrived the Ikoyi property last Wednesday, they were informed that the said apartment was a safe house of the NIA from which discreet operations were carried out.
Remembering that Nigerian laws permit NIA to keep funds in private apartments outside the CBN, EFCC boss rejected all entreaties from the NIA and entered the building, breaking the fireproof safes and taking the money. For the records, NIA is a product of the first national address as president in June 1986 when Ibrahim Babangida issued Decree Number 19, dissolving the National Security Organization (NSO) and restructuring Nigeria’s security services into three separate entities under the Office of the Co-ordinator of National Security:
State Security Service (SSS) – Responsible for domestic intelligence
National Intelligence Agency (NIA) – Responsible for Foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations
Defence Intelligence Agency (DIA) – Responsible for military intelligence.
Meanwhile, the CBN has denied claims by NIA, that the apex bank approved and released the massive stash of cash recovered by EFCC from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos. Though NIA had claimed that it received the funds directly from the CBN. The funds were valued at N13 billion, based on the prevailing exchange rate set by the CBN.
However, when contacted, the CBN said it was not sure that the recovered billions, in mint fresh notes, were moved directly from the bank to the NIA. Contacted to clarify its role in the disbursement of the funds, the CBN Spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said: “It is true the Central Bank of Nigeria issues mint fresh notes, but it is only to banks. After that (issuance to banks), the CBN does not know which of their customers they (the banks) give those notes to, and for what purpose. I cannot say if the notes the NIA is claiming came from the CBN. So, I will not be able to answer questions on it for now, except I receive a specific request.”
Also, the Conference of Nigeria Political Parties (CNPP) has accused Nigerian government of plotting to cover up identity of real owner by plotting to shield the real owner of the sums of $43,449, 947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 (about N13.3 billion) recently recovered from an Ikoyi apartment in Lagos State. It called on the EFCC to prove to Nigerians that its activities are not lopsided by naming and prosecuting the true owner of the money. This national umbrella organisation for all political parties and associations in the country warned that it would mobilize its members, well-meaning Nigerians, and civil society groups “to resist any cover-up of the real owner of the stashed cash,” dismissing the claims that the money belongs to the NIA.
In a statement issued yesterday, Saturday by CNPP signed by its Secretary General, Chief Willy Ezugwu, he maintained that if it was found that the money and the apartment truly belonged to the former governor of Rivers State and Minister of Transport, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the cash should be returned to the River State treasury.
His statement reads: “We’re worried that the current anti-graft war is becoming a show as each day passes. It is more worrisome when you begin to hear that a government security agency, the NIA, which is not a revenue generating organ of the federal government, is laying claim to the recovered.
“The NIA’s angle to the controversy is nothing but a deliberate plot by the Federal Government to cover up the true identity of the looter. How can the NIA claim to own N13 billion cash stashed in a private residential apartment; NIA has no office in Lagos?”
“The war against corruption is now being exposed for what it truly is on daily basis, a lopsided fight against perceived enemies of the present administration, while all members of the ruling party are shielded from prosecution. The case of the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF) is still fresh in our minds, how President Muhammadu Buhari quickly absorbed him of any wrong doing even before any investigation was carried. The Minister of Transport has been at the centre of several financial scandals which were never investigated. But any plot to cover up the owner of the Ikoyi apartment loot will be strongly resisted, with the CNPP leading the struggle. Enough is enough.”
Same way, Nigeria’s Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed claimed “Treasury looters keep money in graveyard.” The Federal Government says its anti corruption agencies have been inundated with information on how treasury looters have resorted to burying stolen funds in their backyards, deep forests and graveyard.
Stating it precisely, Mohammed, who disclosed this on Sunday in Lagos, said the whistle-blowing policy is working and has led to the recovery of more looted funds in many currencies. Mohammed assured in a statement signed by his Special Adviser, Segun Adeyemi, that all the recovered looted funds were safe and government will give full account to Nigerians. The Minister appreciate Nigerians for their enthusiasm and commitment in helping the government to tackle corruption through disclosure of useful leads to appropriate government agencies.
His words: “Since we launched the whistleblower policy, we have received immeasurable support from Nigerians. Yes, there is monetary reward for any information that leads to recovery of looted funds, but from what we have seen, most of the Nigerians who have come forward with useful leads were driven by patriotism rather than reward.
“Nigerians, fired by a fervid resolve to help banish corruption from their country, have daily inundated the offices of the appropriate government agencies with valuable information. We have been told how looters have resorted to burying stolen funds in their backyards, in deep forests and even in burial grounds.
“Thanks to whistle-blowers, it is now clear that a rapacious few have pillaged the nation’s wealth through a vicious orgy of corrupt practices. More funds were in the possession of looters than were available to government at all levels to meets its obligations including paying workers’ salaries and providing social amenities.
“The government will not abandon the policy for whatever reason, but will continue to rejig it and make it more effective as a tool for fighting corruption. As soon as the necessary reconciliation process and the litigation in some of the cases were concluded, government would give full account of the recovered looted funds to Nigerians. If you have useful information on looted funds, let us know, the government will protect your identities and give you their stipulated reward.”
Unwilling to stomach the EFCC Lillie-levered approach in naming names behind the $50million loot, majority of Nigerians are angry, and have taken their anger to the social media to vent their annoyance.
It remains to be seen what would be the fate of Magu, EFCC chairman after his earlier exposure of the $50million bursts in Lagos hideouts, Nigerians still eager to know the public office holder (s) who allegedly own the fund, as they also demand to know the faces of those politicians who are the Cabals behind this raging storm of hidden looted hefty sum of money.