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23 Nov 2017

No going back on arrest of Ekpeyong, Oke, says Magu

Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman Ibrahim Magu says he was not discouraged about Tuesday’s failed attempt to arrest former Director-General of the Department of State Security (DSS) Ita Ekpeyong and former Head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) Ayo Oke.
He spoke with State House reporters after he attended the inauguration of the committee on assets recovery by President Muhammadu Buhari at State House, Abuja.

Stressing that no one is above the law, he said the agency has concrete evidence against the former heads of DSS and NIA.

He insisted that the law will take its course.

Ekpeyong is being investigated for offences bordering on alleged theft and diversion of public funds in the arms deal saga involving a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd) and other service chiefs, who have since been arraigned.

Oke, who was recently sacked by President Buhari for allegedly stashing away N13 billion in the Ikoyi apartment, is reported to have refused not to honour invitations for over three weeks.

But senior lawyers and Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) yesterday condemned the action of the security officials attached to Ekpeyong and Oke for obstructing their arrest.

They described  the “face-off between the EFCC officials and the security officials of the two other security agencies as counter-productive to the fight against corruption.

The senior lawyers who spoke on the issue include Sebastine Hon (SAN), Abiodun Owonikoko (SAN), Seyi Sowemimo (SAN) and Babatunde Fashanu (SAN).

They urged President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently instruct the leadership of the SSS and NIA to allow anti-corruption agencies to carry out their mandate without any interference whatsoever.

Hon said: “The officials of the DSS and the NIA have no right, moral or legal, to prevent the EFCC from performing its statutory functions. Their action amounts to a breach of their oaths of office and their avowed allegiance to the Constitution and the rule of law.

“Officials of the security agencies involved in this ugly saga bear arms; and supposing the EFCC officials attempted to force their way into the residences of the indicted persons, what would have been the result?”

Owonikoko described the situation as “a matter of grave security implication”.

He condemned the unhealthy inter-agency rivalry between DSS and EFCC, which, he said, started with the damning security report against confirmation of Magu as a substantive chair of EFCC by the Senate.

According to Sowemimo, “It sends a terrible message that the anti-corruption war is failing. Some people are above the law. Impunity is still manifests in Nigeria.”

Fashanu said what transpired was a total disregard for rule of law and court order since the EFCC officials were trying to effect a court order.

SERAP, in a statement issued yesterday by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale, said the face-off was contrary to Nigerian law and international standards.

The organisation added: “Nothing more fundamentally undermines public confidence in the fight against grand corruption and trust in government than to see state security agencies paid for by public funds apparently aiding and abetting those suspected of engaging in corruption to escape justice.”

“Buhari must wade in to end this face-off if his government is to successfully stop the spread of corruption in the country and protect the integrity and authority of anti-corruption agencies.”

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