In spite of the standoff with the Department of State Security Service (DSS), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has raised two teams to probe allegations against a former Director-General of DSS Mr. Ita Ekpenyong and ex-Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayo Oke.
While Ita might be interrogated in Abuja in connection with the $2.1billion arms procurement by the Office of National Security Adviser (ONSA), the ex-NIA DG is likely to clarify a few things before a separate panel in Lagos on the $43.4million recovered from a flat at Osborne Towers.
Oke’s appearance might however be delayed because he is assisting the Presidency in the ongoing re-organisation of the NIA.
There are indications that the Presidency may wade in the inter-agency crisis between the DSS and the EFCC.
The EFCC has decided to push ahead with the investigation of Ekpenyong and Oke.
EFCC acting chairman Ibrahim Magu told reporters at the Aso Villa yesterday that he was not discouraged about Tuesday’s failed attempt to arrest former Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS), Ita Ekpeyong, and former head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayo Oke.
He said no one is above the law and that the agency has concrete evidence against the former heads of DSS and NIA.
He insisted that the law will take its course.
A source in the commission said: “There is no going back on any of the ongoing investigation because the EFCC is carrying out presidential directives.
“We have invited these former chief executives of top-flight security agencies for interaction. And in fairness, they are willing to appear before our teams.
The EFCC has always opened a line of communication with them and they have cooperated so far.
“The EFCC is not overbearing because all the reports referred to us for follow-up were actually not generated by this commission.
“The President actually mandated this commission to work on these reports.
“As part of his commitment to anti-graft war, President Muhammadu Buhari raised a Special Investigative Committee on Arms Procurement, which was headed by AVM JON Ode, and the report of the panel was sent to the EFCC for further investigation. It was on this basis we have invited some former Service Chiefs, a former National Security Adviser and others.
“Also, based on the directive of the President, a committee led by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo looked into the circumstances behind the $43.4million recovered from a flat in Osborne Towers. And the President directed further investigation.
“The normal procedure is to conduct discreet investigation and when a case has reached a maturity stage, you are to invite those concerned. We do not rush into any case.
But when anyone is invited and he or she refuses, we always allow the law to take its course by obtaining a warrant of arrest.
“Nigerians need to appreciate that we have been on some of these investigations in the last one and a half years.”
On the case of the former DG of DSS, another source added: “The EFCC and the DSS have been on this case for more than one month on the need for Ekpenyong and some officers to appear for questioning. It has been a dingdong affair between the two agencies.”
It was learnt that the DSS was opposed to the arrest of its former DG in order to “protect the integrity of the service.”
A source said: “Nobody is saying that our former DG should not appear before the EFCC but we want a civil and polite procedure adopted.
“As a responsible agency, the DSS wanted a process in which it will collaborate and even facilitate the procedure of interacting with Ekpenyong. We are only opposed to the gangster style of the EFCC when it is obvious that a suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
“The DSS is looking at the larger picture and security implications of hauling a former DG into cell on mere allegations. So, it is a disagreement on method.”
But a source added: “When Supreme Court judges and others were arrested, was the DSS approach tidier at all in line with the Rule of Law? Did the NJC make input? Was the ex-CJN aware before or after the sting operations?”
Concerning the ex-DG of NIA, a top source said: “Oke has always cooperated with the EFCC, there was no basis for the operation conducted in his house on Tuesday with a view to arresting him.
“The same ex-DG of NIA is assisting a three-man presidential committee working on the reorganization of the agency. He was actually directed to be on standby for his input and to guide the committee.
“It is certainly impossible for Oke to be in Lagos and Abuja at the same time. As soon as he is done with the reorganization committee, he will have interaction with the EFCC.
“In deference to EFCC’s investigation, Oke has not traveled out of Abuja since he was suspended. He does not want either to be accused of obstructing justice or running away. He is now having a feeling that maybe the EFCC was out to frustrate or kill him. He felt bad that a siege was laid on his residence by a 28-man team when he has always been available in Abuja.”
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