Monday, 22 January 2018

$44m: EFCC quizzes ex-NIA boss Ambassador Dauda

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the weekend quizzed the former acting Director- General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Muhammed Dauda, Daily Trust authoritatively learned. 

Daily Trust last week exclusively reported how another $44million in cash kept in NIA’s vaults in Abuja was removed to an unknown destination, two months after Ambassador Ayodele Oke was sacked as head of the agency. 

Top security sources said the money was surreptitiously removed even before the agency’s substantive DG Ahmed Rufai Abubakar resumed duty.  Ambassador Dauda, who was appointed the acting head of the NIA about two months ago after the sack of Mr Oke by President Muhammadu Buhari, was sighted at the headquarters of the anti-graft agency on Friday and Saturday. 

“Ambassador Dauda was at the EFCC for about two hours on Friday,” a security source conversant with the issues confided on Daily Trust. The source said the immediate past NIA chief was also at the EFCC on Saturday. “The former NIA chief went back to the EFCC on Saturday for another round of ‘meeting’ that lasted for two hours,” another source said. 

The source didn’t disclose what Mr Dauda discussed with the EFCC operatives during the two marathon meetings. The security source who declined being named for security reasons said the NIA chief was at the anti-graft agency between 11 am to 2pm on Friday. He returned to the EFCC on Saturday around 3 pm and left around 5 pm. 

Another insider said Mr Dauda might have been questioned on the “latest happenings in the agency.” Another source said the visits might not be unconnected to the controversial removal of $44million from the vault of the intelligence agency about a week ago. 

The EFCC was unable to pin down Mr Oke for questioning as the Department of State Security (DSS) prevented its operatives from arresting him recently in Abuja. 

Another source said after the foiled arrest attempt on Mr Oke, “another fresh invite was sent to him. He refused to honour the first letter, but we sent another one just recently.”    But an EFCC source said Mr Dauda, who served as a director in EFCC might have gone there “to visit his former colleagues.” 

Another source told this newspaper that the former NIA chief “might have obtained a clearance from the National Security Adviser (NIA) before the two visits to the EFCC.” 

Tracing the origin of the money, the sources told Daily Trust that the Jonathan administration released over $260million to NIA as General Intervention Fund. At the time federal government launched an investigation into the funds last year, only the cash discovered in Lagos and the $44million lying in the Abuja vault remained to be expended out of the original $260million, the sources said. As soon as it started its probe, the Vice President Yemi Osinbajo-led committee directed that the money must remain in NIA’s vault as an exhibit, Daily Trust learnt. 

The sources, however, said, “While the money remained in the vault, certain powerful forces mounted pressure on the acting DG, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda, who was redeployed from Chad, to use the money since it is the property of the NIA but the acting DG refused.” 

According to our sources, the “powerful forces” pushed very hard for the money to be tampered with, saying the government had forgotten all about it, but for the firm resistance of the outgoing acting DG. Our sources added, 

“But barely two days after President Buhari named a substantive head for the agency, a black bullion van was dispatched to NIA and the money was removed to an unknown destination around 6 am on Friday. 

The team that removed the money was accompanied by a serving military officer who was posted to the intelligence outfit months ago as the finance officer.”  The total amount of money that was taken away from NIA’s vaults on that Friday was $44,285,996.  

When the EFCC acting spokesperson Mr Samin Amaddin was contacted for the story yesterday, he said he was not in Abuja at the weekend, so he couldn’t confirm it. Ambassador Dauda also didn’t pick his calls nor replied to a message sent to him.  (Daily Trust)

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