by Bassey Udo and Samuel Ogundipe,
Despite claims by the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that he approved and released the massive stash of cash recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos, former President Goodluck Jonathan has remained silent on the matter.
The former president’s spokesperson has for days declined requests to state Mr. Jonathan’s side of the story.
Operatives of the EFCC, acting on a tip-off on Wednesday, said they found $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 hidden inside an apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi.
The funds are valued at N13 billion based on prevailing exchange rate set by the Central Bank of Nigeria.
The EFCC circulated photograph and video footage of the operation, sparking nationwide outrage.
But the anti-graft agency has so far failed to disclose ownership of the recovered funds.
As Nigerians and civic groups demanded clarification about the recovered cash, sources in the presidency quoted the NIA Director General, Ayodele Oke, as telling President Muhammadu Buhari that Mr. Jonathan released the money to the agency for covert security projects.
But Mr. Jonathan has remained silent despite requests by our reporter for him to speak on the matter.
For two days, repeated telephone calls, text messages and email enquiries to the former president’s spokesperson, Ikechukwu Eze, were neither answered nor returned.
The presidency is also yet to officially comment on the matter.
CBN not sure it paid Ikoyi billions to NIA
When contacted, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) said it was not sure, as at Saturday, that the recovered billions, in mint fresh notes, moved directly from the bank to the NIA.
The security agency had claimed that it received the funds directly from the CBN.
But when contacted by PREMIUM TIMES to clarify its role in the disbursement of the funds, the CBN spokesperson, Isaac Okorafor, said, “It is true the Central Bank of Nigeria issues mint fresh notes, but it is only to banks.
“After that (issuance to banks) CBN does not know which of their customers they (the banks) give those notes to and for what purpose.
“I cannot say if the notes the NIA is claiming came from the CBN. So, I will not be able to answer questions on it for now, except I receive a specific request.”