Abuja, NIGERIA – The Department of State Services raided the headquarters of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Friday night.
SaharaReporters reported that the raid lasted till early Saturday morning.
The action was undertaken under the cover of the night to prevent public knowledge of the action while the staff of EFCC were instructed not to mention anything concerning the invitation to the public.
According to an insider, the DSS is working for a particular interest very important to the president beyond what the public is made to believe.
However, another source said it may be linked to the recent closure of the EFCC office in Ikoyi, Lagos by the DSS.
“I heard the raid and partisanship of the DSS was the reason why they raised an alarm yesterday (Saturday) that some of their disgruntled officers are planning to shame the agency and embarrass the leadership,” the source said.
Some of the investigators handling the case of former Zamfara State Governor, Bello Matawalle are to be summoned by the DSS for interrogation, it was further learnt.
“That is actually intimidation, symptomatic of what former Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami did during Ibrahim Magu’s time as EFCC chairman to get several suspects off the hook,” the source said.
It was revealed that Matawalle was being investigated by the commission in two separate cases. One of them is a case involving his private company which got money from the National Security Adviser’s office without executing the contract, which was investigated under the chairmanship of Magu. The other case involves the alleged fraud committed by Matawalle while in office.
Someone close to President Bola Tinubu also informed our reporter that the president is also aware of the moves by the former governor to stop the anti-corruption body from probing him, which includes obtaining court orders to restrain the commission and other agencies from carrying out their investigations.
President Bola Tinubu Wednesday suspended Bawa from office indefinitely.
According to a release from the presidency on Wednesday, Bawa’s suspension is “to allow for proper investigation into his conduct while in office. This follows weighty allegation of abuse of office leveled against him.
“Mr Bawa has been directed to immediately hand over the affairs of his office to the Director, Operations in the commission, who will oversee the affairs of the Office of the Chairman pending the conclusion of investigation.”
Bawa’s suspension came days after Tinubu suspended the Central Bank Governor, Mr Godwin Emefiele, from office.
At the time of filing this report, it was unclear what the agenda of Tinubu and DSS were regarding the detention of Bawa and the carting away of sensitive documents relating to the commission’s investigations.
Wilson Uwajaren, the spokesperson for the EFCC, did not answer calls nor reply to the text messages sent to his mobile line.
Last month, operatives of the DSS stormed the Lagos office of the EFCC, preventing officials of the anti-graft agency from gaining access to their office in Ikoyi.
Top sources in both agencies that over 500 EFCC officials were locked out from resuming work due to office ownership disagreements.
“The EFCC officers are shocked; they have been using the building for more than 20 years. Several suspects are there and there are fears that some might have been illegally released,” a top source had said.
“They have summoned a meeting of both sides.”
President Tinubu later ordered the DSS to vacate the EFCC office immediately.
He said if there were issues between the “two important agencies of government”, they should be resolved amicably.
Reacting to the incident, the EFCC in a statement on its official Facebook page described the siege as shocking, saying it had wider implications for Nigeria’s fight against economic and financial crimes.
“The operatives of the Lagos Command of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, arrived at their office on No. 15 Awolowo Road, Ikoyi, this morning, May 30, 2023, to be denied entry by agents of the Department of State Services, DSS, who had barricaded the entrance with armoured personnel carriers.
“This development is strange to the Commission given that we have cohabited with the DSS in that facility for 20 years without incident.
“By denying operatives access to their offices, the Commission’s operations at its largest hub with over 500 personnel, hundreds of exhibits, and many suspects in detention have been disrupted.
“Cases scheduled for court hearing today have been aborted, while many suspects who had been invited for questioning are left unattended.
“Even more alarming is that suspects in detention are left without care with grave implications for their rights as inmates.
“All of these have wider implications for the nation’s fight against economic and financial crimes.
“The siege is inconsistent with the synergy expected of agencies working for the same government and nation, especially when there are ongoing discussions on the matter,” the statement read.
But the DSS in a statement by its Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, denied barricading the EFCC office.
The statement said the Service was not in any fight with the EFCC over the Lagos property.
The DSS statement read, “The attention of the Department of State Services (DSS) has been drawn to some media reports that it barricaded the EFCC from entering its Lagos office.
“It is not correct that the DSS barricaded EFCC from entering its office. No. It is not true. The Service is only occupying its own facility where it is carrying out its official and statutory responsibility.
“By the way, there is no controversy over No 15A Awolowo Road as being insinuated by the Media. Did the EFCC tell you it is contesting the ownership of the building? I will be surprised if it is contesting the ownership.
“Awolowo Road was NSO headquarters. SSS/DSS started from there. It is a common knowledge. It is a historical fact. Check it out.
“There is no rivalry between the Service and the EFCC over and about anything. Please do not create any imaginary one. They are great partners working for the good of the nation. Dismiss any falsehood of a fight.”
The DSS on Saturday warned persons and groups whom it said it had identified to be planning to stage “campaigns of calumny against it and the Nigerian Government over the suspension and subsequent investigation of Mr Godwin Emefiele.”
The DSS through its spokesperson, Dr Peter Afunanya, said in a release that the groups intended to gather at different points in Abuja and Lagos with placards calling for the immediate release of the suspended Central Bank governor, Emefiele.
Afunanya said, “The groups intend to gather at different points in Abuja and Lagos with placards depicting the Service and the Federal Government in bad light as well as calling for the immediate release of Emefiele.
“The Service therefore warns those behind this plot to desist forthwith. Meanwhile the service says it has granted the family of Emefiele, medical officials and appropriate persons access to him, right from the day he was taken in and obtained a court order to do so.
“The Service implements Standards Operating Procedures on Suspect Handling and Investigation professionally.”
Earlier in the week Emefiele reportedly identified the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Abdulrasheed Bawa, as an accomplice in the Naira redesign scam that rocked the country some months ago.
Emefiele who is being detained DSS was said to be the reason why the embattled EFCC chairman was also invited and detained. He was thereafter grilled by the operatives of the secret police.
This comes hours after he was suspended indefinitely by President Bola Tinubu.
Bawa’s invitation and grilling by the DSS came days after Emefiele was arrested and flown from Lagos to Abuja to also face interrogations over alleged corruption and abuse of office.
Emefiele and Bawa – both undergoing interrogation – were being quizzed on sundry issues including the Naira redesign scam.