BREAKING: NIA, Amaechi Deny Claims, Ownership of $50m in Ikoyi House

The National Intelligence Agency of Nigeria (NIA) has vehemently denied a report that its officials were laying claims to the cash hoard of $50 million recently seized from an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos by officials of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

An online publication –ThisDay and theWILL– (not SaharaReporters) had reported that officials of the NIA were insisting that the seized cash was part of the agency’s covert operations. The publication had also claimed that NIA officials were furious that the EFCC acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, had undermined their covert tasks by sending agents of the anti-corruption agency to impound the cash. Seizure of the huge haul of cash, which included millions of US dollars, British pound sterling and the Nigerian currency, the naira, has dominated news coverage in Nigeria for two days.

A top NIA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told SaharaReporters that the agency was in no way tied to the scandalous amount discovered in an apartment that was built by a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Adamu Muazu. According to the source, the NIA never claimed ownership of the funds, contrary to the assertion made by an online paper.

SaharaReporters briefly spoke to the Director-General of the NIA, Ayodele Oke, who said he had not seen such a report and couldn’t comment on it. Pressed further, he said he had not met President Muhammadu Buhari to discuss owning the cash, he then pleaded to speak with our reporter when he wakes up in the morning saying he had a ‘headache’. One of our sources said the version of the story claiming that NIA owns the money was being spread by Nigerian Senate president Bukola Saraki who claimed the NIA had warned EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu not invade the apartment with the cash, claiming the NIA was using it for covert operations.

The EFCC has yet to unveil the owner of the stash of cash unearthed in safes that were concealed behind a false wall at an apartment in Ikoyi, an upscale area of the sprawling metropolis of Lagos, Nigeria’s major commercial city.

Earlier this evening, some individuals began circulating a WhatsApp message stating that former Governor Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers State was the owner of the apartment where the cash was found. The WhatsApp message, which was also tweeted by Lere Olayinka, a spokesman for Governor Ayo Fayose of Ekiti State, claimed that Mr. Amaechi bought apartments 7A and 7B in the apartment complex and then gave one to famous Nigerian TV personality, Mo Abudu.

In an interview with SaharaReporters, Mr. Amaechi, who is Nigeria’s current Minister of Transportation, said he had no connection whatsoever with the apartment or the money. He added that he does not own any apartment or house in Lagos, stating that his only property in Nigeria was in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city.