The promise by President Muhammadu Buhari to trace and recover billions of dollars of Nigeria’s oil money stashed in foreign bank accounts by top officials of the immediate past administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan may not be an empty threat after all as there are strong indications that the president has ordered the National Intelligence Agency, NIA to follow the looted funds to the various coffers where they are now being kept.
The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is a Nigerian government secret security agency tasked with overseeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence operations, with operatives embedded in the country’s foreign missions across the world.
An impeccable source close to the president revealed that the amount of money being traced now is far above the missing $20 billion the former CBN Governor and current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi alerted the nation about.
It was gathered that soon after Buhari won the presidential election in March, well-connected individuals and foreign governments have been giving the president loads of documents and information on the whereabouts of billions of dollars kept in foreign accounts by top officials of the Jonathan’s administration. These have also been followed up with calls for probe especially of the oil sector where billions of dollars have been declared missing.
Not comfortable with the docility that had bugged down the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC under the Jonathan administration, the president, it was gathered turned to the NIA with a wider network in foreign intelligence gathering and put the Agency to task.
To further show the seriousness of his commitment to trace and recover the looted funds, President Buhari is taking the Director General of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke along on his trip to the United States tomorrow. The U.S has promised to assist the new administration with intelligence and other needed support to track and recover the looted billions.
Other top NIA officials already on ground in the U.S include a former Director of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, simply identified as Mr Wokoma. The new role being given to the NIA, it was gathered, is pending the time the president will reorganize and restructure the two main anti-graft agencies; the EFCC and the ICPC.
Beside being given the assignment to probe the stolen funds, the NIA, it was also learnt “is the one the president is using to screen some political appointees so far appointed and possibly the ministerial nominees as well.”
Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina had in a statement on Wednesday said top issues that will dominate discussion between President Buhari and President Barack Obama at next week’s meeting in the United States are security, terrorism, corruption and trade relations. He said Buhari will depart Abuja tomorrow, Sunday to Washington DC on a four-day official visit during which he will hold high-level talks with President Obama and other senior officials of the US government.
According to the statement, ”topmost on the agenda of President Buhari’s talks with President Obama and United States government officials will be measures to strengthen and intensify bilateral and international cooperation against terrorism in Nigeria and West-Africa”.
Before the president returns to Abuja on Thursday, next week, he will
also meet with Vice President Joe Biden and confer with the US Attorney-General, Loretta Lynch, the US Secretary of Treasury, Jack Lew, the US Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker and the US Trade representative, Michael Froman on United States support for his administration’s war against corruption as well as fresh measures to boost Nigeria- United States trade relations.
Though the statement only listed the governors of Imo, Nasarawa, Edo, Borno and Oyo States as well as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Permanent Secretaries of the Federal Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Trade and Investment, as those who will accompany the president on the trip, Saturday Sun however gathered that the NIA boss, Ayo Oke will be part of the team in furtherance of the on-going investigation being done by his Agency.
On Tuesday, June 23, President Buhari in Abuja assured state governors that the days of impunity, lack of accountability, and fiscal recklessness in the management of national resources are over in Nigeria.
Speaking at a meeting with the governors in the Presidential Villa, Buhari also vowed that funds stolen by government officials who abused their offices in the recent past will be recovered and systemic leakages stopped.
“There are financial and administrative instructions in every government parastatal and agency. But all these were thrown to the dogs in the past. Honestly, our problems are great, but we will do our best to surmount them.
“The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered, and we will do our best, ” the President told the governors.”
Expressing surprise that the governors had tolerated the atrocities allegedly committed with the Excess Crude Account from where over $4 billion had been illegally withdrawn by the Jonathan administration. President Buhari promised to tackle the issue decisively. -The Sun