By Jide Ajani
’Oath of Secrecy’ is a major issue
•Only President has final say on outcome of investigation
As the three-man Committee set up by the Federal Government of Nigeria to unravel the circumstances surrounding the placement and discovery of $43million, N23m and £27,000 from an Ikoyi apartment is set to submit its report tomorrow, information suggests that, whereas Mrs Folasade Oke, wife of the suspended Director General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, paid $1.6m cash for Flat 7B, Osborne Towers, the apartment was immediately transferred to the intelligence agency.
The disclosure about the nature of payment by Mrs Oke was made in an affidavit, in support of the application for final forfeiture of the sums, by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
During one of the Committee’s sessions, according to sources close to its activities, members were made to understand that Mrs Oke may not have had knowledge of the details of the contents of the flat she allegedly bought for the spy agency.
Headed by Vice President Osinbajo, with Brigadier-General Babagana Mongunu (retd), National Security Adviser, NSA; and Abubakar Malami, SAN, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation, as members, the Committee learnt that “the property was almost immediately transferred to the agency after it was bought”, with claims that “there are documents to support” the position.
The Committee, Sunday Vanguard was told, insisted on knowing, while observing without conceding, why Ambassador Oke opted to engage the services of his wife for the purchase of the flat.
However, the Committee sessions, held at the Vice President’s Wing of Aso Rock Presidential Villa, did not run as smoothly as may have been envisaged, especially regarding the expected full disclosure from some of those it invited to give testimonies.
Specifically, the testimonies of Ambassador Oke, according to a source close to the sessions, “did not particularly enjoy the benefit of full disclosure because the ‘Oath of Secrecy’, which the suspended DG swore to, posed its own challenge.
“It wasn’t that he did not cooperate with the Committee, but there were times you would think he was stonewalling”, the source said.
But an NIA source pointed out to Sunday Vanguard that it would have been a breach of ‘Oath of Secrecy’ were the Ambassador to begin to divulge very sensitive information because he wanted to save his neck.
Had that happened, the source hinted, “it would have sent a very wrong signal down the line, with possible collateral damage not only to the NIA but also to the country”.
Sunday Vanguard was made to understand that the position of former Foreign Affairs Minister and Deputy Chairman, 2014 National Conference, Professor Bolaji Akinyemi, that he did not expect the agency’s top shot to admit or deny anything, played out before the Committee.
Akinyemi, in his much publicised statement, issued last week, said: “But when Ambassador Ayo Oke stepped forward to claim it on the part of the National Intelligence Agency, (NIA), alarm bells started to ring in my ears. It is one of the sacred traditions of the external intelligence trade to admit nothing and to deny nothing”.
The former minister had envisaged what a source described as a possible violation of constitutional provisions of the operational and administrative autonomy of the NIA, particularly the need to ensure that “under no circumstances should the Report of the Panel in as far as it relates to the activities of the NIA be made public”.
This position was also supported by former Commonwealth Secretary General, Chief Emeka Anyaoku.
The activities of the Committee witnessed the invitation of several individuals including, but not limited to the following:
- Ambassador Oke, suspended NIA DG
- Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman, EFCC
- Mrs Oke, wife of the suspended DG
- Personnel from the Finance and Accounts Departments of the NIA
- Directors in the agency
- Head, Operations, NIA
Sunday Vanguard gathered that once the report is submitted, the President is the approving authority expected to make a final pronouncement.