The National Intelligence Agency (NIA) never briefed President Muhammadu Buhari that funds for its “covert projects” were warehoused in an Ikoyi flat, presidency sources have told TheCable.
This has further raised suspicion that the monies were being warehoused for individual use and not for official purposes.
On Wednesday, EFCC said it discovered $43.4m, £27,800 and N23.2m in a house in Ikoyi, Lagos following a tip-off from a whistle blower.
There was a flurry of speculation on who actually owns the money, with names of prominent Nigerians being mentioned.
The NIA stepped up to claim ownership, saying the funds were approved by former president Goodluck Jonathan for “covert” security projects.
However, government insiders have informed TheCable that “it is a cock and bull story”.
“It is impossible, probably treasonable, that a security agency will be carrying out covert operations without the knowledge of the sitting president and commander-in-chief of the armed forces,” the source said.
“From what we know so far, funds were indeed approved by Jonathan for the agency in 2015. But like the monies released for Boko Haram operations, the funds were diverted for non-security use. That is why they ended up in a private residence.
“It appears the funds were diverted for the 2015 elections but some smarter guys kept part for personal use.”
Ayodele Oke, the NIA director-general, was appointed by Jonathan in November 2013 and retained by Buhari, even though he replaced other security chiefs in August 2015.
While the Ikoyi operation was underway on Wednesday, Oke was reported to have run to the office of Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC chairman, to inform him that there were “covert” security funds in the flat being searched by the operatives.
However, TheCable understands that Oke only told Magu that there were “sensitive documents” in the house and pleaded that EFCC should abort the operation.
A security official who spoke to TheCable on Friday said “that was what gave away the game”.
“Oke had never mentioned the whereabouts of the funds for any discreet project being executed by NIA since he started holding security meetings with the president in June 2015,” the official said.
Gordon Obuah, the chief security officer to Jonathan from 2010-2015, died suddenly on Thursday after a “massive heart attack”, leading to speculation that he might also have known about the funds.
He was being investigated separately by the DSS over security funds linked to him and had his movement curtailed by the secret police in the last two years.
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been edited after the emergence of new facts.