NIA admits ownership of seized N13bn, says Jonathan approved it

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  • No, It belongs to Rivers State – Gov. Wike

The mystery surrounding the ownership of $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218, 000 recovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, from an Ikoyi apartment in Lagos was unraveled yesterday with the admittance of ownership by the National Intelligence Agency, NIA.

This revelation which came at a time the ownership of the funds was a subject of speculation, was the outcome of an investigation by an online platform, Premium Times.

It was stated that the funds were approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for discreet security projects during the tenure of a former Director General of the agency, Mr. Olaniyi Oladeji.

The report detailing how the money was withdrawn from the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, warehoused in Lagos and uncovered by the EFCC, said the sensitive nature of the projects demanded that the funds be withdrawn and kept in a secret place in the interest of national security.

The projects the funds were meant to finance were reported to have been spread across the country, while the prime project was planned to be executed in Lagos, a reason the funds were kept in the city.

The report quoted a source to have stated thus: “The spending on the projects cannot be subjected to the usual expenditure process, and that is why the funds are held in cash. If you like, you can call it illegal projects in the national interest.”

However, it was said that the projects were only known to some top government officials and the NIA.

In the meantime, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State has introduced a new twist to the $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23, 218,000 recovered on Wednesday by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from Osborne Towers, a luxury residential complex in Ikoyi, Lagos.

The governor told journalists at a briefing in Port Harcourt last night that the money belonged to the Rivers State Government.

Wike issued a seven-day ultimatum to the Federal Government to return the money to his government or he would be forced to take legal measures to recover it.

Governor Wike declared that the money (N13 billion) found in the Ikoyi apartment belonged to the Rivers state government.

According to him, investigations by the Rivers government revealed that the money was the proceeds from the sale of gas turbines by the immediate past Governor Rotimi Amaechi now Minister of Transport.

Wike alleged that the money was stolen by Amaechi, an allegation the minister had already denied.

“The money in question belongs to the former Rivers state governor, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

”We want to confirm that the houses in Ikoyi also belong to Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi.

“If you recollect in 2015, we said that gas turbines built by former Governor Peter Odili were sold to Sahara Energy, business partners of Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi at $319 million.

“That money was used to sponsor the All Progressives Congress for the 2015 general elections. From the date of sale of the gas turbines to May 29, 2015, the money depleted from $319 million to $204,000. What was stashed at the Ikoyi residence was part of that fund,” Wike stated.

The special assistant to the governor on electronic media, Simeon Nwakaudu, in a statement quoted the governor as saying further: “We have facts to prove that the said money belongs to the Rivers state government. The federal government must return our money.”

Governor Wike said all the stories being peddled about the money belonging to the National Intelligence Agency were false and mere face saving measures by the embattled APC federal government.

“As I speak to you, the federal government is so embarrassed that this has happened. All the stories that the money belongs to the NIA are fake,” the governor said while challenging the federal government to set up a panel of inquiry, which will sit publicly to investigate the money if it doubted the claims of the Rivers state government.

Wike said the Rivers state government needs the money to complete an array of projects, insisting that on no account would this criminal activity be swept under the carpet.

He also said as long as the federal government continues to disturb the progress of Rivers state, so long would God throw the government at the centre into confusion.

“We are giving them seven days to return our money. Otherwise, we would take legal action to recover our money. $43 million will help us complete several projects. We need that money for projects,” he said.

Vanguard with additional report from Citizen

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