Cash not slush fund, says NIA
DSS boss offers to testify at panel
National Intelligence Agency (NIA) boss Ayo Oke is to face the Presidential Investigative Committee today —the second time in two weeks.
He will be questioned over the $43.4million recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Oke will explain today how the cash got to Apartment 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, The Nation learnt.
The cash haul is suspected to be part of the slush funds for the failed re-election of former President Goodluck Jonathan
But Oke, who has submitted a document to the committee, is said to be insisting that the $43.4million was part of the $289million special intervention funds for NIA which he spelt out in a memo to the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno.
In the document, Oke accounted for the $289million, which he said was spent on nine key projects.
He stressed that the $43.4million was no campaign funds.
The NIA is, according to a source, worried about the leaks from the panel, which it claims have been destroying its image.
The committee last night sent text messages to Oke and some government officials whose names were not immediately known.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Oke has been re-invited because the committee has not been convinced about where he got the $43.4m and how the cash got to Apartment 7B in Osborne Towers, Ikoyi.
“These are the two questions he needs to clarify before we round off our work. We want to give him the benefit of doubt.
“Oke admitted that NIA got $289 million Special Intervention Funds for nine projects and he has accounted for how the funds were spent on the completed and ongoing projects.
“The only area of disagreement is that the panel suspects that the $43.4 million is not part of the $289 million. It believes the cash was part of the campaign slush funds for the re-election of ex-President Jonathan.”
An NIA source said last night that the fresh invitation to Oke was unnecessary because he had provided the committee with all the documents it needed.
“In fact, NIA accounts have been scrutinised and no infractions were found. Some forces are just desperate to find faults.
“It is as if there is pre-determined agenda.”
A document obtained by our correspondent indicated that the NIA DG in a memo of January 26, 2016 to the NSA, gave the following breakdown of the Special Intervention Funds:
- Total amount—$289, 202, 382
- Payment already made on nine projects as at January 2016—$98,891,067.57
- Actual balance—$190, 311.314. 42
- Cash at hand—$89,298.759.43
- Cash in the bank—$101,012.555
But the suspended NIA DG in the memo insisted that the $43.4million was part of the $289million Special Intervention Funds.
A top NIA source said: “The $43.4million was part of the $89.298million cash at hand with the agency. We have not paid all the bills. As of January 2016, this agency declared the cash to the NSA in a detailed memo. This cannot be controverted.
“The NIA was never given any money for the campaign. If the $43.4million was part of the campaign, what will the agency be doing with it for about two years after the election?
“The $43.4million was part of the funds meant for an ongoing security classified project in Lagos. The money cannot even complete the project; it is part of the project. If this money is taken away, the project cannot be completed.
“When the NIA DG appeared before the committee, he insisted that the cash recovered was not slush funds in any manner whatsoever.
“He even listed the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS) , Mallam Lawal Daura, as one of his witnesses who knew about the classified projects. Daura has formally written to the panel to testify. But the panel has not permitted Daura to appear before it.
“Up till now, nobody knows why a vital witness was yet to be allowed to testify before the committee.
“All we are reading about borders on some leaks from the committee which are rubbing off on the image of NIA.
“As a professional organisation, we believe that some of the leaks were sheer lies from the pit of hell.”
A source in the Presidency confirmed that the DG of NIA wrote a memo to the NSA and the NSA did a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari and the President was briefed about the nine projects being executed with the $289million.
“The NSA was said to have raised a committee to inspect the projects. “It is a different ball game whether or not the funds spent on the projects were justified,” the source said, pleading not to be nambed because of the “sensitivity” of the matter.
The Osinbajo panel is yet to do cost analysis, he added.
“The only issue outstanding before the committee is the suspicion that the $43.4 million was campaign slush funds. It is unclear if NIA does not want to open the Pandora Box,” he said.
There were indications last night that the Minister of Finance, Mrs. Kemi Adeosun, may have been co-opted into the committee.
It was not clear if it was based on the directive of the President or not.
A source close to the committee said: “The presence of the Minister is to clarify the release of some funds, including budgetary and extra-budgetary or for special intervention.
“I think the committed is at liberty to call on anyone to assist it.”
But the involvement of the minister has created some disquiet in government circles, with some wondering why those with knowledge of intelligence were not involved in the committee’s work.