By: Rahaman Onike
The discovery of stow away 50 million dollars which is equivalent to 15 billion naira by EFCC at Ikoyi luxury sky-high building raises a lot of puzzles about Nigeria’s ethos and disdained functionality of the nation’s intelligence system. Coincidentally, the manhunt was carried out by the EFCC at the eve of celebration of the organization’s fourteen years of its establishment.
Since the discovery of the homongous money by EFCC in a private apartment at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria, a lot of churn-up has resulted. In a way, the ongoing scenario has further proved that whistle-blowing policy of the present administration is yielding good results.
What is ominous about the issue is the various characters connected directly or indirectly with the apartment where the monies were recovered. This has not only prompted further probe into the ownership of the homongous cash but it also calls for re-assessment and evaluation of the performance of the nation’s security and intelligence services.
Given the avalanche of reports on social and new media, regarding the ownership of the huge sum, it seems there is a sort of connivance among the power elite to syphon the money either now or in the future. Even with all the denials, the alleged individuals are still look at with suspicion particularly the Transport and Aviation Minister, Chief Rotimi Ameachi, Senator Solomon Adeola popularly known as Yayi, representing Lagos West Senatorial District and Alhaji Adamu Muazu, the former PDP National Chairman.
It was pathetic that in the course of unravelling the ownership of the money and reasons for stashing the huge cash, the National Intelligence Agency(NIA) interceded with an unverifiable claim to be the owner. Yet, Nigerians do not feel satisfied.
Most commentators see the claim of NIA as a sort of prey on being orchestrated to cover-up the heinous crime against the nation by certain powerful individuals in government.
In my view, a mere claim of ownership of the homongous money by NIA cannot cause the matter to hit a dead end, rather, it will ignite further brouhaha.
The excuse given by the NIA that the said money is meant for covert operation may sound valid, if it is properly appropriated and approved by the President. From reports, it is obvious President Buhari, the current nation’s chief security officer was oblivious of the said NIA’s covert operation until Wednesday when the EFCC discovered the cash in Ikoyi Secret location.
From all indications, there is reasonable ground to suspect foul play on the part of top echelons of the National Intelligence Agency to have excluded such a vital information on routine intelligence briefing or operation notes passed to President Muhammed Buhari on assumption of office.
So, why is Buhari Commander in-chief, if a covert operation was ongoing in which the last administration approved colossal cash being kept in a private apartment without him being briefed until the money was found and carted away by the EFCC two years into his administration.
This makes the whole scenario to become a matter of more puzzles, less clues.
One other important puzzle is the question of rationale for loading such quantum cash in private home originally owned and occupied by people of questionable character instead of its safe, well guarded headquarters or in any of its secret facilities.
Similar to this report is the quiz that would a Jonathan keep such elephantine money in a house alegedly owned by Rotimi Amaechi.
With the ongoing hullabaloo, President Buhari will do well for his good image by getting to the bottom of this issue.
Any attempt to allow it to fizzle out as usual will prove the cynics right that the discovery is a conscious effort to detract attention from ‘non performance’ of the present administration.
While supporting the call that President Buhari must address the nation on this scandalous discovery , it won’t be out of order for former President Goodluck Jonathan to be quizzed to confirm or refute claim that he approved the release of the cash for covert operation. If he confirms, we will face the matter of abuse as part of measure of performance of Jonathan’s administration.
I have not seen reasons to subscribe to the narration that the EFCC discovery was a mere ploy to give fresh life to an assertion which tries to blame the economic woe of the nation on Jonathan’s rather than Buhari’s.
The NIA equally needs to clear air on the new narrative that some GEJ campaign materials were found at the Osborne flat together with the dollars. Except this done, one may likely fall into temptation to toy the line of groups that believe the present administration is doing everything possible to pin the Ikoyi heist on GEJ as part of its propaganda project.
Above all, the whole story suggests a case of inherent poor coordination and lack of cooperation in the nation’s security and intelligence circle. If at the end of the day, the real culprits are not brought to book, the alleged cover-up, desperation and over zealousness of EFCC top hierarchies will become a stigma as well as a moral burden for the present administration.
As the whole world look forward to witness the eventual outcome of investigation of reasons for the stashing of the huge fund, it becomes incumbent on Buhari’s administration to prove that he is not being selective in his anti-corruption war or using it as an instrument for the witch-hunt of the opposition.
Rahaman Onike writes from Oyo. He is a public administrator, policy analyst and author.