It has emerged that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), which is seeking to interrogate the sacked Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, has spread its investigations to cover spendings by the service under the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan and the funds inherited by Daura from his predecessor.
Sources close to commission told the Sunday Tribune at the weekend that investigators of the EFCC have zeroed on funds Daura received from the previous administration and what exactly happened to the funds.
Following the interrogation of the former Director General of the DSS, Mr. Ita Ekpeyong, it emerged that the service actually returned more than N3 billion unspent operations funds during the period.
The EFCC has also received details of the funds inherited by Daura.
A source in the commission said following the failure of the investigators to make expected discoveries when the searched the home of Daura, attention has now been zeroed in on what happened to the funds he inherited from Ekpetong.
It was learnt that the need to get to the roots of every kobo handed over by Ekpeyong necessitated the search of his house, his interrogation and the decision to place him on stand by for further investigations.
A source in the know said: “With the apparent lack of substantial evidence in the searches conducted so far in the residences and guest houses of Daura, investigating authorities are holding on to suspected depletion of funds he took over from his predecessor, Ekpenyong Ita.
“The monies handed over are a public knowledge. When the director general of such Service hands over, copies are customarily sent to the President, the National Security Adviser, the Service itself, the incoming and outgoing directors general would have their copies.”
The source said that some of the funds already accounted for included the various sums $21.23m and N12.96 billion in pension fund, N2.2 billion in serial account, and another N2.2 billion earmarked for insurance.
There are different other us heads totaling about 20, a source at the EFCC said, adding that Ekpeyong has actually been cooperating with investigators by appearing at the Commission’s headquarters almost every other day.
Sources said while the EFCC was actually not probing the operations accounts of the DSS, it’s investigators were worried about some bulk movements.
For instance, a source said that there may be questions as to why the accounts of the commission stood at about N6 billion as of June this year from the N12.9 billion that was handed over by Ekpeyong.
The investigators are concerned and checking out if the funds were diverted and who authorised such
“The EFCC is only interested in just some basic questions that he (Daura) may need to provide answers to. Mind you, this is not a probe of the DSS, we are only seeking clarifications,” a source said.
The ongoing probe is, however, said to be causing some confusion in Intelligence circles following reports that President Muhammadu Buhari had last year given a directive that probes of DSS, the National Intelligence Agency(NIA) and other Secret services would only be undertaken by close insiders in order not to expose Nigeria to ridicule and suspicion by the global Intelligence networks.
Sources in the administration said at the weekend that if the ongoing probe continues, it could go against against the tide in inquiry into intelligence matters all over the world.
It was also gathered that the Ambassador Babagana Kingibe-led Committee, which investigated the NIA funds discovered in Lagos, had also recommended as such.
It was learnt that the confusion reigning so far could stall further probe and questioning of Daura by the EFCC.
A source familiar with the situation said: “The committee had advised the President, and it was approved, that matters of intelligence should be discreetly handled by a special body of former members of the community and the report turned in to the President for necessary actions.
“This (investigations of DSS) would be a clear case of blatant disregard of the Presidential directive arising from the report of the committee, and the norm all over the world.
“If it goes this way, nobody would volunteer information that could be processed into intelligence, there may be no bilateral collaboration between Nigeria intelligence agencies and some known cracked foreign agencies in the world like the FBI, CIA, MI5, MI6 and more, for fear that they could be exposed, compromised and the lives of their operatives compromised in the course of open probe. And I know that we (Nigeria) have enjoyed that goodwill over years.
“An open investigation by outsiders might just be penny wise, pound foolish. A bubble of pyrrhic victory that would evaporate and expose Nigeria to ridicule.
“Either way, even if there’s misdemeanour anywhere, any inquiry without a presidential imprimatur in line with the world best practices and as recommended by the committee would be a bastardized effort.”
In furtherance of the ongoing probe of the blockade of the National Assembly on July 24, sources have confirmed that suspected collaborators have been cleverly placed on watchlist.
It was confirmed that some of the collaborators allegedly mentioned in the interim report have been placed on watchlist.
The list of those placed on close watch was said to have been longer then expected as according to sources, it contained top officials of the administration suspected to have held secret meetings that led to the blockade of the legislature are also on the list.
The unusual thing about this move is that the agency in charge of the close watch is not your usual agency and the administration is keeping the identity of the agency under wraps, a source said, adding that the suspects include heads of some parastatals, and agencies.
“Those involved cannot leave the country for now,” the source said.