An advocacy group, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), has called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to investigate a plot to steal $44 million from the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) by Messrs. Babagana Kingibe, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation; Rufai Abubakar, Director-General (DG) NIA; and Mr. Abba Kyari. Chief of Staff to President Muhammadu Buhari.
The demand for investigation was made through a petition addressed to Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Acting EFCC Chairman. According to HEDA, its demand for an investigation and possible prosecution of of those involved in the attempted diversion was based on a report published by SaharaReporters on 6 February.
Signed by Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, Chairman of HEDA, the petition stated that the envisaged investigation will go a long way in banishing doubts about the fidelity of the government's claim that it is tackling corruption.
"The allegations were made by Mr. Muhammed Dauda, the immediate past Acting Director-General of NIA. Mr. Dauda has disclosed that he fought off attempts by Messrs. Babagana Kingibe, former Secretary to the Government of the Federation; his protégé and incumbent Director-General of the NIA, Mr. Rufai Abubakar and Abba Kyari, the President’s Chief of Staff to steal $44 Million NIA Intervention Fund," said HEDA in its petition.
The group added that the attempted theft was revealed in a brief to the House of Representatives Committee on National Security and Intelligence. It recalled that Mr. Dauda said he was provided with a picture of the agency’s financial position, which included $44 million. The said sum was part of the money that sparked the Ikoyi apartment cash scandal. Mr. Dauda, said HEDA, stated that he was introduced to the agency's Acting Director of Finance and Administration (DFA) who briefed him on the nature of the agency’s assignments.
"The Acting DFA also told Mr. Dauda that the $44 million in his custody, which was not part of the agency’s budgetary allocation and should not be touched because it had become an exhibit in an ongoing case. The purpose of the disclosure, Mr. Dauda said, was for his information,". HEDA quoted SaharaReporters as having reported.
The group noted that shortly after Mr. Dauda assumed office as Acting DG NIA, the Presidential Review Panel (PRP) headed by Mr. Kingibe started its review of goings on in the agency. Mr. Dauda, after his first meeting with the panel, said Mr. Kingibe advised him to, in his own interest, cooperate with the panel and avoid being close to the National Security Adviser, General Babagana Munguno. Mr. Kingibe equally told Mr. Dauda that his panel had Presidential powers to overrule previous instructions or directives issued by the National Security Adviser.
HEDA noted that Mr Dauda said he was instructed to channel all the agency's activities, contacts, concerns and complaints through the office of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari only.
HEDA said it was also reported that things went smoothly until Messrs. Kingibe and Abubakar began pressuring Mr. Dauda for gratification. Mr. Dauda, said HEDA, explained to duo that the agency’s dollar account had been depleted because of the difficulty in sourcing dollars from the Central Bank of Nigeria after the Ikoyi apartment cash scandal erupted. Kingibe and Abubakar
replied that the $44 million in the custody of the acting DFA belongs to the agency and that the DFA had no power to stop Mr. Dauda from spending the money. Messrs. Kingibe and Abubakar urged Mr. Dauda to impress it on the National Security Adviser to withdraw the DFA or ask the NIA security department to stop him from accessing the premises of the agency.
Mr. Dauda told the House Committee that if the Acting DFA was out of the way, he could be powerless to resist further pressure from Mr Kingibe and his gang.
“They kept insisting that they had the mandate of the President and that the President had directed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to hands off the money and that it was legitimately ours. They verbally queried me on the logic of keeping the money as an exhibit since there was no case pending in court. Ambassador Kingibe told me that he was the one who through the Chief of Staff drafted the memo that the President assented to, instructing the EFCC to hands off our case (Ikoyi Cash Scandal) just to convince me that there are no more encumbrances on the money,” Mr. Dauda said in his brief to the House Committee.
Mr. Dauda, observed HEDA, said Mr. Kingibe and his mob invoked the President’s name to squeeze cash out of the NIA.
”The current DG NIA once called me on whatsapp just like Ambassador Kingibe always does and said that his Oga was traveling to London for medical check-up and he suggested that I should find something for him as a sign of goodwill. So, I reluctantly gave him $50,000 against my will, a decision that made me sad throughout the day.
“I met and gave a lady Ambassador Kingibe simply introduced as ‘Angela’ money twice at the car park of the Hilton Hotel. Once $50,000 and the second time, $20,000 which apparently did not impress him," Mr. Dauda told the House Committee.
On the plot to steal $44million, HEDA stated that the former Acting DG NIA said he was invited for a meeting in a house at Asokoro, Abuja, where he was told that the Acting DFA was conspiring with some people to steal the $44 million in the safe and was told that he would be held responsible if he did not move to stop the plan. In addition, they demanded an immediate gratification of $2million to make them work on the President to confirm Mr. Dauda as the substantive DG.only if he could immediately make $2million.
“They told me that their committee had completed their assignment and that their recommendations were so generous to the DG, NIA. They said they recommended the appointment of two deputy DGs and watered down their powers enough so that they will not be in a position to pose any threat to him as the DG. They then suggested that it was his turn to do something in return by making available $2 Million.
“I told them it was not going to be possible as the only money available was the $44 million and I did not know how to approach the Acting DFA. They also told me at the meeting that if I cannot sack the DFA, they would send someone to do it soon. That was my last communication with them until I heard of my removal from office on Wednesday, January, 11 on Channels TV around 8pm,” said Mr. Dauda to the House Committee.
A day after his removal, he advised the National Security Adviser to evacuate the money from the NIA, an advice the NSA heeded. The money was moved and taken to the office of the NSA.
At a meeting he had with the incumbent DG later, Mr. Dauda said his successor said the Presidency was unhappy with the turn of events. The DG NIA also said he was blamed by the Presidency for not taking over at the agency immediately, a development that led to the $44 million being stolen. Mr. Dauda said he explained that he approved the transfer of the money so the money could be safe and that if there was no ulterior motive, the anger was baseless.
"On the whole, we are of the vehement position that the above is an expose on how much corrupt practices still loom large in our country’s political scenes, even in a sensitive security related office such as the NIA.
"We thereby urge you to use your good office to urgently expand your scope of investigation of the Osborne Ikoyi scandal involving the former DG of NIA to cover the allegations and characters mentioned in this report with a view to prosecute all indicted officials," said HEDA.