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Presidency to intervene in DSS, EFCC bickering

Eid-el-Fitr: DSS calls for security alert at prayer grounds

Following the persistent bickering amongst three Federal Government law enforcement agencies, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) the Department of State Security Service,( DSS) and National Intelligence Agency, ( NIA) which led to fresh war between the organisations in Asokoro, Abuja, Tuesday, there are indications that President Muhammadu Buhari may soon call the parties to order.

A statement by the EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, which was made available to BusinessDay in Abuja, confirmed this.

The statement titled “DSS Stops Arrest of Ex-DG by EFCC,” said officers of the Department of State Services, (DSS) thwarted the attempt by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to arrest a former director-general of the agency, Ekpeyong Ita, who is being investigated for offences bordering on alleged theft and diversion of public funds.

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“Detectives of the EFCC, armed with both arrest and search warrants, had stormed the 46 Mamman Nasir, Asokoro, Abuja residence of the former DG at about 6 am today but were prevented from gaining entry by armed guards from the DSS. Shortly after the EFCC operatives arrived, the DSS reinforced its security presence at the property, with the deployment of about 30 armed operatives.”

The EFCC described as ” worrisome,” the refusal of DSS operatives to allow the EFCC to execute valid search and arrest warrants.

“I don’t know whether it is within their brief to prevent a law enforcement agency from executing arrest or search warrant on a property belonging to retired staff of the agency. The suspect in question is not a serving officer of the DSS, which makes this action particularly reprehensible,” an EFCC source said.

This is just as the bickering assumed a new dimension, on Tuesday, as both DSS and NIA, resisted attempts by the EFCC, to arrest the former Director-General of the NIA, Ayo Oke and the immediate past director-general of DSS, lta Ekpeyoung at their Assokoro residents which sparked a fresh row between the security and anti-graft agencies.

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Presidency sources said the President was unhappy with altercations between the agencies and would soon summon the heads of the agencies.

The Villa source who asked not to be quoted, said the” problem was weakening President Buhari’s anti-corruption war,” adding, “l am sure the President can no longer keep silent over the issue.

“One thing Nigerians are happy about in this administration is that the President has shown enough political will and zeal to fight corruption. Nigerians are not in doubt about this, but l am sure the President will not allow anti agency rivalry to cast doubt on what he is doing,” he said.

The DSS has been gradually leading a secret war against the EFCC, following a document which allegedly emanated from the agency, indicting the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, which led to Magu’s rejection by the Senate, twice.

BusinessDay, findings show that following several previous unsuccessful attempts to effect the arrest of the two former public officers, who were allegedly indicted concerning allegations of misuse of public funds, the EFCC took advantage of the absence of the DSS Director-General, Lawan Daura, who was reportedly out of the country for an official assignment to carry out the arrests.

The DSS DG was said to have quickly issued orders to his men from abroad, to do everything necessary to prevent their arrests.

A source close to Ita Ekpeyoung who spoke to BusinessDay noted that the former DG, DSS was “safe.”

“They invaded his house this morning but operatives of the DSS have quickly aborted the arrest plans,” adding that” well they could not arrest him and he is at home and he is fine”

Recall that a similar invitation issued for the arrest of some operatives of DSS was rebuffed by the agency, with the notion that the invitation was an attempt to get back at the DSS and rubbish the agencies for sending the letter that led to Magu not being confirmed by the Senate.

The DSS has been at loggerheads with the EFCC since the service wrote two memos to the Senate, stopping the clearance of the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

The DSS had in a March 14, 2017 security report, sent to the Senate, concluded that “in the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”

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Ever since, every effort to work with the DSS had been rejected, as the DSS says it will not have anything to do the EFCC, under Magu’s headship.

The EFCC conference in April this year, which attempted to bring all anti-graft agencies together in a Multi-Agency Environment” was shunned by the DSS.

The program was designed to engage stakeholders in the anti-graft war to brainstorm on ways of addressing pertinent national issues relating to the fight against corruption. Only the DSS was absent at the two-day event.
The Board of the EFCC is composed of those government agencies whose activities are said to contribute to the success of the anti-graft war, including the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, a representative each of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Justice and the Federal Ministry of finance, DG DSS, Comptroller-General of Immigrations, DG of Customs, DG Securities and Exchange Commission, amongst other, but BusinessDay gathered that DSS has never attended meetings called by the EFCC under Ibrahim Magu.

 

Tony Ailemen, Abuja