#EFCC Discovery: NIA, Others… Were They Awaken By Whistle-Blowing Policy? -Falana

Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, Femi Falana, SAN, has said the recovered monies by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be guarded until there is a proof of ownership.

Falana recalled that “in 2014, two businessmen (an Israeli and a Nigerian) smuggled $9.3 million to South Africa from Nigeria. It was alleged that the private jet with which the fund was hauled was leased from the then President of Christian Association of Nigeria, Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor.

“Both suspects were arrested while the fund was seized. The additional sum of $5.7 million sent to South Africa through a bank by the duo was also seized. Although the Federal Government was not implicated in the transfer of the fund, the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA) later claimed that the $15 million was meant for the purchase of arms from a firm in South Africa.

“We must avoid a situation whereby huge funds hidden in abandoned buildings and apartments are said to be “operational funds” kept by certain security agencies. If the EFCC had refused to seize the fund last week, the whistle-blower could have rushed to the media to accuse the Buhari administration of keeping stolen money for the 2019 general elections.

“Apart from the NIA, the Rivers State government is also laying claim to the fund. But instead of giving the Federal Government a seven-day ultimatum to hand over the money to the Rives State government, Governor Nyesom Wike should instruct his attorney-general to file an affidavit at the Federal High Court.

“But before doing that, he should carefully study the case of FRN v CBN (unreported) where the application of the Delta State government to claim the bribe of $15 million paid to the then EFCC chairman, Mr. Nuhu Ribadu, by a former governor of the state was dismissed as the applicant was unable to prove that it owned the money.

“On a more serious note, are Nigerians to believe that an agency of the federal government kept about $50 million in an apartment without adequate security personnel to guard the money? Why was the fund not kept in a safe in the well-fortified ONSA? When was the National Intelligence Agency exempted from the Treasury Single Account (TSA)?

“If the DG of NIA has just gone to brief President Buhari that the fund was collected from former President Goodluck Jonathan for a special project, why did the briefing not take place before now? Since the NIA is in charge of external security why was it necessary to execute projects in the country? How much of such fund is being kept in private homes by the NIA and other security agencies?

“Since the whistle-blowing policy of the Federal Government commenced why has the NIA not deemed it fit to take the anti-graft agencies into confidence with respect to the fund being kept in Ikoyi for the so called covert operations?

“Is the Federal Government not being exposed to ridicule when corrupt public officers are competing with government departments to hide millions of United States dollars in dump sites and ‘safe’ apartments? Anyway, since the Federal High Court has granted the application filed by the EFCC for an interim forfeiture of the fund, it is no longer an internal affair of the Buhari administration. Let the National Intelligence Agency approach the court with convert proof to claim the money.”

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