From Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has reiterated that those found culpable in the Ikoyi Osborne Towers scandal will be punished.
Buhari had, in October, sacked former director general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayo Oke, over the $43.4 million operations cash discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at Apartment 7B, Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The president also fired his Secretary to Government of the Federation Babachir David Lawal, for awarding N200 million grass-cutting contract to clear “invasive plant species” in Yobe State, to Global Vision Limited, under the Presidential Initiative on the North East (PINE), a company in which he had interest.
Buhari had said the relevant security agencies are at liberty to prosecute the duo.
In a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, Buhari said this when he received the report of the panel established to review NIA’s operational, technical and administrative structure.
President Buhari described the discovery of monies in the Osborne flat as an “unfortunate incident which rightly aroused public interest and outcry.
“All the circumstances surrounding the obtaining, keeping custody and disbursement of the funds have been examined by the Vice President’s committee and all those found to be culpable will be made to account and appropriately sanctioned.
“However, it must be understood that this cannot be done in a manner that jeopardises national security or exposes the operations of any intelligence agency, which must, by nature, be conducted in secrecy.
“Suffice for me to assure all that justice will be done, consistent with our anti-corruption policies,” he said.
Buhari commended the Presidential Review Panel on NIA, led by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, a former minister of Foreign Affairs, for “completing the assignment expeditiously,” and expressed hope that the panel’s recommendations and that of an earlier committee chaired by his deputy, Osinbajo, will assist government improve NIA operations, as well as the country’s overall national security architecture.
“Your panel’s recommendation, informed as they are, by your collective experience and expertise in this field, should, in particular, help to reposition NIA, to better perform its vital functions with greater professionalism.
“The Osborne Towers incident and its aftermath has also brought to the fore, the need to review the entire national security architecture, which has now been in operation as established 31 years ago.
“Once again, I thank you very much for undertaking this national assignment,” the president told the Kingibe panel.
Osinbajo was present at the presentation of the panel report, which also had Chief Albert Horsfall, Ambassador Zakari Ibrahim and Ambassador Ezekiel Oladeji as members.
On April 12, 2017, acting on a tip-off, the EFCC found $43.4 million, N23 million and £27, 000 cash at House 16, Osborne Road, in Ikoyi, Lagos Island.
After months of anticipation, the whistle blower was paid over N400 million, as part of government’s policy of rewarding exposure of looters of public funds. The unnamed whistle blower travelled out of Nigeria, after he received payment, from the Ministry of Finance, last week, according to his counsel.