The attempted arrest of former Directors-General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS), Ita Ekpenyong, and National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ayodele Oke, by operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was an act of vendetta, the Director-General of the DSS, Lawan Daura, told a Senate panel.
This was as the Senate on Thursday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to, as a matter of urgency, intervene in the cold war raging between some key security agencies, namely the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Directorate of State Services (DSS), and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
The red chamber also directed that the EFCC should henceforth “apply minimum publicity when dealing with sister agencies that are clandestine in nature.”
The resolution also said the EFCC must conduct its activities with minimum publicity in order to retain the integrity of the institutions, saying that public altercation as witnessed between these agencies must not be allowed to repeat itself.
These were contained in the report of the Senate Ad Hoc Committee on Investigation of Arrest Episodes of Tuesday, November 21, 2017 Among Officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, National Intelligence Agency, and Directorate of State Services.
The 16-page report, in its five-point recommendations, also noted that “there’s no institution or individual that’s above the law or immune from investigation”, adding that “security agencies must be properly guided against blanket investigations as these can jeopardise our security operations and bring our country into disrepute, both locally and internationally.”
Also recommended by the Senator Francis Alimikhena-led 10-man committee was the need to amend the National Security Agencies Act Cap N74 LFN 2010, with a view to giving powers of control to the coordinator on national security over these agencies on behalf of the president.
The report also called for a written presidential approval before any search and arrest could be carried out by security agencies in the future, and must also be done in a discreet manner to avoid public exposure.
The committee, in the body of the report, noted although it raised concerns regarding the manner in which operatives of all three agencies handled the issue of the arrest of some former chief executives, submissions by the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, in the course of the probe, revealed that the incidence was in contrast to what was reported in the media.
According to Magu, EFCC operatives, after being prevented from arresting the former Directors-General of the NIA and DSS, Amb. Ayodele Oke and Ita Ekpenyong respectively, left their premises without creating any scene.
However, the DSS Director-General, Mr. Lawan Daura, in his submission before the Senate panel described the incident of November 21 as a vendetta on the part of the EFCC.
He said the stand-off was a spill-over effect of actions taken by the DSS against some ad-hoc members of the probe panel put together by the Office of the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno, to investigate the Defence Procurement from 2014 to 2015.
“These ad-hoc members were later found to be involved in some shady deals, which bordered on corrupt practices.
“The service subsequently arrested Mohammed Umar (Air Commodore Rtd), the arrowhead of the members involved in extorting money from suspects under investigation in order to give them a soft landing. At the end of the investigation, he (Umar) was arraigned in court and is presently being prosecuted at the Federal High Court, Abuja.
“Against this backdrop, the NSA and Ibrahim Magu, Acting EFCC boss, who were clearly not happy with the arrest and prosecution of Umar, decided to embark on a vendetta to investigate the Service on some trumped-up charges, including corrupt practices…”
Daura said in the report considered and adopted by the Senate: “The crux of the matter is the attempt by EFCC to investigate the DSS accounts with the CBN and other expenditures by the Service.
“To this end, the Commission requested the Service to ensure the release of Mr. Ita Ekpenyong (former DG. State Services) and Mr. Kunle Kadiri (former Head of the Accounts Department of the Service) for investigation.”
Daura, in his submission, said the Service resisted the Commission because the “extant laws establishing the Service prohibits it from the Commission’s kind of investigation without a Presidential Order.
“It was suggested to him to call EFCC Board meeting to thrash it out or to secure such Presidential Order.
“The Service also advised appropriate authorities to set up a Presidential Committee in the manner that the Ikoyi Tower/NIA money was investigated,” the report cited Daura as saying.
On the part of the NIA, the then acting DG, Mohammed Dauda, in his memorandum, told the panel that there was no official communication from the EFCC to his agency with regards to any arrest.
He said news of the purported arrest of the agency’s former boss by the EFCC got to him via the media, adding that the agency had expected a prior notice from the EFCC before such assignment could be embarked upon to its facility.
However, the NSA, Gen Monguno, retired, in his submission before the panel, noted that the EFCC investigation was based on the outcome and recommendations of the Presidential Panel headed by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The report also quoted the NSA as expressing concerns over the “apparent lack of unity and cooperation which has led to the current state of disjointedness and disharmony amongst the sister agencies.”