NIA never briefed Buhari on ‘covert Project’ linked to $43m ceased by EFCC

Chidi Samuel || The controversy surrounding the huge sums of money recovered by the EFCC in an unoccupied apartment in Ikoyi area of Lagos continued Saturday as it emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari was never briefed by the National  Intelligence Agency over the ”covert operations” the money recovered was earmarked for.

The disclosure has further added more confusion to an already murky situation over the discovery of the sums stashed in a private apartment which the EFCC ceased on Wednesday following a tip-off by a whistleblower.

Before the NIA stepped out to claim the sums recovered, some individuals were at various times linked to the monies but they all denied such claims. Even River State Government through their Governor, Nyesom Wike, late Friday joined the fray by claiming the Money belong to the State Government.

Federal Government sources have however poured cold water to the claims by the NIA describing it as an ”afterthought.”

Oke- NIA DG

According to a source in the Presidency, “It is impossible, probably treasonable, that a security agency will be carrying out covert operations without the knowledge of the sitting president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces.”

“The president has been in power for nearly two years now and not once did the NIA DG mention any such project to him, either at security meetings or one-on-one.

“From what we know so far, funds were indeed approved by Jonathan for the agency in late 2014. But like the monies released for Boko Haram operations, the funds were diverted for non-security use. That is why they ended up in a private residence.

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“It appears the funds were diverted for the 2015 elections but some smarter guys kept part for personal use.”

Ex-President Jonathan

It will be recalled that While the Ikoyi operation was underway on Wednesday, Ayodele Oke, NIA director general, who was appointed by Ex-President Goodluck Jonathan in 2013, reportedly got in touch with Ibrahim Magu, EFCC’s acting chairman, to inform him that there were ”sensitive documents” in the flat being searched by the operatives.

According to a security source, “that was what gave away the game”.

“Oke had never mentioned any discreet project being executed by NIA since he started holding security meetings with the president in June 2015.”

“He never mentioned anything of this nature to the president in private either. For him to be coming up with this story in April 2017,  for the first time, there is a clear case of an attempted cover-up,” the source stated.

The sudden death of Gordon Obuah, the chief security officer to Jonathan from 2010-2015, on Thursday of massive heart attack is leading to speculation that he might also have known about the funds.

He was under separate investigations by the DSS over security funds and had his movement curtailed by the secret police in the last two years.

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Various sources in the Presidency are skeptical of the claims by the NIA. To them, several things don’t add up with the claims of the Spy agency.

According to one the sources, “To start with, if the president, if the national security adviser and if other security chiefs were never aware of covert projects until now, that in itself is a big problem.”

“Second, if NIA needs such a huge amount of money in Nigeria, it has enough safes in fortified offices to keep it. It does not need an unprotected private residence. It makes no sense to keep the funds in a private residence without putting operatives on guard.

“Third, if a covert project was approved and monies were collected more than two years ago, are the projects still being executed? Why was no progress report filed with the president? Budgets are released yearly and unspent funds are retired yearly. There is also no record that the NIA sought exemption or got approval to keep the monies away from TSA.”

As President Buhari awaits the reports of the National security adviser and the Attorney General of the Federation, the last has definitely not been heard from this unfolding saga.

Additional reports from Thecable