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The N15 billion seized by EFCC operatives in Lagos last week was part of the monies channelled by ex-president Goodluck Jonathan through the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) for his party’s 2015 campaigns, a retired employee of the agency told the Daily Trust yesterday.
Ibrahim Ibrahim, who retired from the NIA 2006 as deputy director, said though Jonathan approved the monies to be distributed to PDP chieftains, the embattled Director-General of the agency, Ayo Oke did not do so for unknown reason.
“A lot of things have happened; a lot of public officers have actually drifted away from the disciplined course and as a result so many things have happened. The NIA is not an exception at all,” Ibrahim said.
“I think what really happened was that the money was issued to the agency (NIA) just in the same way it was given to the NSAs office.
“President Jonathan approved $289 million or so in November 2014 in excess of the approved budget of the agency.
“So, that excess was intended as campaign funds and the agency, the DG NIA in particular, was supposed to disburse the fund but along the way, he found a way of diverting even that one for his own private use,” Ibrahim said.
When asked why campaign funds should be channelled through the NIA, Ibrahim, who worked closely with Oke before he retired, said, “As I mentioned, it was intended as campaign funds and it was diverted the way money was given to NSA Dasuki that was the same way it was given to Ayo Oke. It was not meant specifically for the operations of the agency but a kind of money laundering for the agency to launder the money for PDP chieftains.
“I think they saw that security agencies are a kind of perfect means through which money laundering for such purposes could be done because it is simply to say the money is for operations,” he said.
On whether it was normal during his days in the NIA to keep monies for covert operations in private buildings, he said, “It’s abnormal; it’s a total lie. There’s no way any operation would be approved and then it would not be conducted in more than two years. As I said, this money was approved in November 2014 and we’re now in April 2017-two years plus! It’s not normal.
“Certainly President Jonathan approved some money to be laundered through the agency for campaign purposes but he did it as if he was giving the agency allocation of funds for their operations and he did it in excess of their budget,” he said.
Sheding light on the probable source of the funds, he said, “Well, it is possible the money came from the NNPC and it might have come just directly from the Villa; there’re a number of ways,” he said.
Money drawn from NNPC- Source
The seized money mainly came from the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Daily Trust gathered in Abuja yesterday.
A credible source with knowledge of the transaction said the money was released to the Nigerian Intelligence Agency (NIA) over two years ago. He said this was in compliance with a memo from the office of the then National Security Adviser (NSA), Col Sambo Dasuki, retired.
EFCC operatives on Thursday last week seized $43.4 million, £27,000 and N23 million from an apartment at Osborne Towers building in Lagos.
The NIA claimed the money belonged to it and that it was using the apartment as a safe house.
“The money was actually released from the NNPC accounts shortly before the 2015 general elections; and this was sequel to a memo from NSA Sambo Dasuki’s office,” the source said.
“Specifically, the memo directed the GMD (Group Managing Director) of the NNPC to release $45 million to the NIA for the purpose of espionage in the North East and the neighbouring Chad, Niger, Cameroon and Benin towards combating the Boko Haram.
“May be part of the $45 million was used for something else that brought the figure down to $43.4 million but the actually request for dollar was $45 Million. The other denominations might be releases based on separate memos, the NNPC has money in different denominations and request for release could be made in any of them depending on circumstances.
“And the fact is, that specific memo for the release of dollars was just one out of many because at that time, it was very common to see memos from the NSA for release of funds mostly for security related issues not necessarily captured in the budget,” he said.
“Also, not much questions are being asked whenever the memos came because they’re mostly based on superior directives from the presidency or the office of the minister of petroleum resources.
“However, what usually followed were also memos giving some details as to how the funds were spent so that the records at the NNPC could be kept clean but to the best of my knowledge, there was no corresponding memo on the $45 million dollars found at the building in Lagos-invariably meaning that the money was not spent on anything,” he added.
A source alleged that the money was to be used for the 2015 election but was now being kept to be used for 2019.
He added that further investigation might implicate the current leadership of the agency and other opposition governors in financial crimes.
He explained that monies used for covert operations by the NIA are not usually in large amount.
The source said funds for top class operations which required up to ten undercover operatives in a foreign country did not exceed $100,000, usually withdrawn from a bank.
He also said it is abnormal that such money (N15 billion) was kept in what is being described as a safe house.
According to him while there are safe houses, they are only used strictly for operational purpose and not financial.
Another source said the maximum for any operation is 100,000 US dollars and a safe house has to be a stand alone building not in a block of flats in which you cannot guarantee any safety or security.
Spokesperson to former president, Goodluck Jonathan could not be reached last night for comment, but he had denied that the former president approved any such money.