*Following the money trail
Little by little, droplets of information concerning the N13 billion uncovered in an Ikoyi luxury apartment seems to be seeping onto the public space.
Yet, the public is not being enlightened more and more by the bits of information that come through; instead, the waters are daily being muddied up some more.
No, I’m not writing about the outlandish claim that the money belongs to Rivers state government where a former State Governor was alleged to have diverted it from.
Some folks have even gone to the wayward extent of accusing the Federal Government of conjuring out the sum just so that the populace could be diverted from the hardship and ills of its misrule.
Yet, since this immediate past Monday, some little drops of facts have been coming in.
Unfortunately too, some persons have made it to appear that the stashing of the money was as normal to a security agency as breathing is to man.
To put this in proper perspective, Mr. Segun Adeniyi encapsulated the thinking pattern of this group when he wrote on Thursday April 27, 2017 in his THISDAY newspaper column:
“I want to reserve my comments on how Nigeria has suddenly become “treasure island” where huge sums of money that have no owners are now being found almost on a daily basis.
“I will also keep the powder dry on the controversial N13 billion (in local and foreign currencies) belonging to the National Intelligent Agency (NIA).
“While the suspended NIA Director General, Ambassador Ayo Oke ought to have fallen on his own sword the moment he bungled what ordinarily should be a simple covert operation (moving cash), I also believe the EFCC should have been discrete in handling the matter given the important national security projects involved.
“What I find most reprehensible is the attempt to drag in the name of President Goodluck Jonathan to score a cheap political point.
“I have it on good authority that President Jonathan indeed approved the projects and directed the release of the 289 million Dollars to the NIA in February 2015.
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“But those claiming that President Muhammadu Buhari is not aware of the money (including the balance of more than 30 million Dollars that is still in NIA custody) and the projects involved don’t know what they are talking about”.
Well, if we take Mr. Adeniyi seriously, those “who don’t know what they are talking about” include all the members of the House of Representatives, who have resolved to “ascertain the owner of the money which was discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) courtesy of a whistle-blower.
“The resolution followed the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon Gabriel Kolawole who said ‘There is need for thorough investigation into the matter in order to ascertain the source of the money given the claims on its ownership, purpose and the damaging effects it is having on Federal Government’s anti-corruption drive’”.
Here, already, Representative Kolawole’s perspective is more all-encompassing than Segun Adeniyi’s, which left out what the money was meant for question.
I take it for granted that from the tone of Mr. Adeniyi’s article, he may have seen the documents Ambassador Ayodele Oke used in briefing President Mohammadu Buhari.
Even then, what has been left unsaid is where the money emanated from, and what it was approved for. Was it appropriately budgeted for the usage of the NIA (National Intelligence Agency)?
Enough of the preamble: I begin by saying that as the budget of the NIA in the year in question, 2015 (an election year) was all of $160m then the government’s extra-budgetary allocation of all of $289m to the same agency, looks suspicious.
It is from this point that every attempt to unravel the facts must begin.
Also, the problem of what the money was meant for becomes clearer when one remembers that this extra-budgetary allocation to NIA was made three months (February 2015) after that controversial sum of money that was supposed to buy arms to combat Boko Haram insurgency, was allocated to the National Security Adviser’s Office (in November 2014).
How the then NSA handled that sum is still being looked into by the courts, as the present administration has alleged that the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Col Sambo Dasuki (rtd) used the money for other purposes. It is on record though that Dasuki has denied any wrong doing.
Yet, as allegations go, the nation has heard tales of how the money meant to fight Boko Haram was diverted to aid former President Jonathan’s 2015 re-election bid.