Buhari orders NIA to trace missing oil billions

THE SUN Newspaper- Ade Alade

The promise by Pres­ident Muhammadu Buhari to trace and recover billions of dollars of Nigeria’s oil money stashed in foreign bank accounts by top of­ficials of the immediate past administration of Dr Goodluck Jonathan may not be an empty threat af­ter all as there are strong indications that the presi­dent has ordered the Na­tional Intelligence Agency, NIA to follow the looted funds to the various coffers where they are now being kept.

The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) is a Nigerian government secret security agency tasked with over­seeing foreign intelligence and counterintelligence op­erations, with operatives embedded in the country’s foreign missions across the world.

An impeccable source close to the president re­vealed that the amount of money being traced now is far above the missing $20 billion the former CBN Governor and current Emir of Kano, Sanusi Lamido Sa­nusi alerted the nation about.

It was gathered that soon after Buhari won the presi­dential election in March, well-connected individuals and foreign governments have been giving the presi­dent loads of documents and information on the where­abouts of billions of dollars kept in foreign accounts by top officials of the Jona­than’s administration. These have also been followed up with calls for probe espe­cially of the oil sector where billions of dollars have been declared missing.

Not comfortable with the docility that had bugged down the Economic and Financial Crimes Com­mission, EFCC under the Jonathan administration, the president, it was gathered turned to the NIA with a wider network in foreign in­telligence gathering and put the Agency to task.

To further show the seri­ousness of his commitment to trace and recover the loot­ed funds, President Buhari is taking the Director Gen­eral of the NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke along on his trip to the United States tomorrow. The U.S has promised to as­sist the new administration with intelligence and other needed support to track and recover the looted billions.

Other top NIA officials al­ready on ground in the U.S include a former Director of the Nigeria Financial Intel­ligence Unit, NFIU, simply identified as Mr Wokoma. The new role being given to the NIA, it was gathered, is pending the time the presi­dent will reorganize and re­structure the two main anti-graft agencies; the EFCC and the ICPC.

Beside being given the assignment to probe the sto­len funds, the NIA, it was also learnt “is the one the president is using to screen some political appointees so far appointed and possibly the ministerial nominees as well.”

Presidential spokesman, Femi Adesina had in a state­ment on Wednesday said top issues that will dominate dis­cussion between President Buhari and President Barack Obama at next week’s meet­ing in the United States are security, terrorism, corrup­tion and trade relations. He said Buhari will depart Abuja tomorrow, Sunday to Washington DC on a four-day official visit dur­ing which he will hold high-level talks with President Obama and other senior offi­cials of the US government.

According to the state­ment, ”topmost on the agenda of President Bu­hari’s talks with President Obama and United States government officials will be measures to strengthen and intensify bilateral and inter­national cooperation against terrorism in Nigeria and West-Africa”.

Before the president re­turns to Abuja on Thursday, next week, he will

also meet with Vice Presi­dent Joe Biden and confer with the US Attorney-Gen­eral, Loretta Lynch, the US Secretary of Treasury, Jack Lew, the US Secretary of Commerce, Penny Pritzker and the US Trade represen­tative, Michael Froman on United States support for his administration’s war against corruption as well as fresh measures to boost Nigeria- United States trade relations.

Though the statement only listed the governors of Imo, Nasarawa, Edo, Borno and Oyo States as well as the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria and Perma­nent Secretaries of the Fed­eral Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs, Industry, Trade and Investment, as those who will accompany the president on the trip, Sat­urday Sun however gathered that the NIA boss, Ayo Oke will be part of the team in furtherance of the on-going investigation being done by his Agency.

On Tuesday, June 23, President Buhari in Abuja assured state governors that the days of impunity, lack of accountability, and fiscal recklessness in the manage­ment of national resources are over in Nigeria.

Speaking at a meeting with the governors in the Presidential Villa, Buhari also vowed that funds sto­len by government officials who abused their offices in the recent past will be recov­ered and systemic leakages stopped.

“There are financial and administrative instructions in every government para­statal and agency. But all these were thrown to the dogs in the past. Honestly, our problems are great, but we will do our best to sur­mount them.

“The next three months may be hard, but billions of dollars can be recovered, and we will do our best, ” the President told the gov­ernors.”

Expressing surprise that the governors had toler­ated the atrocities allegedly committed with the Excess Crude Account from where over $4 billion had been il­legally withdrawn by the Jonathan administration. President Buhari promised to tackle the issue decisively.


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