By Ronald Mutum and Ismail Mudashir
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is preparing to interrogate the sacked Director General of the Directorate of State Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, over an alleged N17bn scam, Daily Trust learnt yesterday.
Daura, who was sacked by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo following the siege to the National Assembly by DSS operatives, is being interrogated by the police.
EFCC sources told Daily Trust that operatives of the anti-graft agency on Tuesday evening visited the police facility at Guzape Abuja where Daura was being held preparatory to receiving him.
“It is expected that the former DSS boss will be handed [to the EFCC] over by the police for further interrogation to explain how the N17 billion traced to the headquarters of the DSS was utilized,” said one of the sources at the anti-graft agency.
The money, it was further learnt, was left behind by the Daura’s predecessor Ita Ekpeyong. It was alleged that Ekpeyong received N20 billion from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) at the end of former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration.
Ekpeyong, it was also alleged, converted N17 billion into United States of America (USA) dollars, which he left behind when he handed over to Daura.
The funds were reportedly traced by EFCC investigators as a fall out of discoveries after the $43 billion linked to the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) was found stashed at a private apartment inside Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos.
EFCC sources said operatives of the commission had been working on the investigation report that indicted the management of the DSS, but that the investigation was frustrated by Daura.
DSS agents, on the orders of Daura, prevented EFCC agents from arresting Ita Ekpeyong and sacked DG of NIA Ayo Oke on November 21, 2017, to prevent the investigation.
“So now is a good time to get Daura to answer questions in connection to the investigation earlier started,” sources said.
Daily Trust reports that Osinbajo met again with the new acting DG of DSS Matthew Seiyefa and the acting EFCC chairman Magu shortly after presiding over the Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting yesterday.
The acting president had earlier on the day Daura was sacked met separately with Seiyefa and Magu. It is however not clear if the visits had anything to do with the impending interrogation of the sacked DSS boss.
Meanwhile, Seiyefa has formally taken over at the headquarters of the agency in Abuja.
Seiyefa held an inaugural management meeting with directors and senior officers yesterday where he promised to constitute a team that would steer the leadership of the agency.
Daily Trust reports that the Senate refused to confirm the appointment of Magu as substantive chairman of the EFCC based on two DSS reports sent to the lawmakers by Daura.
EFCC freezes bank accounts of Benue, Akwa Ibom
The EFCC has also frozen bank accounts of Benue and Akwa Ibom state governments.
Attempts to get EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, yesterday to explain why the accounts were frozen, failed.
However, sources said the accounts were frozen after the EFCC made efforts to invite some officials of government to make statements on suspicious transactions on the bank accounts, but invitations were not honoured.
Lawyers said that the EFCC is enabled by the Money Laundering Act to enforce freeze orders on bank accounts being investigated by the commission, but the orders can be challenged in court by any individual or government.
They said when the EFCC froze Ekiti State account, the governor Ayo Fayose went to court to lift, but the anti-graft agency eventually won at the Court of Appeal.
Governors condemn freezing of govt accounts
Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and Zamfara State Governor Abdul’aziz Yari has described the freezing of the account of the Benue State Government by the EFCC as unlawful.
Yari spoke yesterday when he met with Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
“The freezing of any account of the state government, whether Benue or anywhere, is unconstitutional and is not right. That is shutting down government. Government must spend, most especially Benue that is facing insecurity challenges.
“Well, we don’t know why the EFCC took the action. But if indeed EFCC has frozen the account, from my point of view, it is wrong.
“But I believe this government will not sit down and oversee unlawful operations happening from the security agencies.
“From what happened yesterday, someone can understand that this government is following due process and laws of Nigeria.
“EFCC’s action in Benue is something that should be reversed,” he said.