The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has obtained two separate warrants from a court to arrest a former Director-General of Department of State Service (DSS), Mr. Ita Ekpenyong and ex-Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Mr. Ayo Oke.
The commission also secured the nod of the court to search the residences of the two former intelligence chiefs.
Also, for the first time, the EFCC has disclosed to the court why the two former intelligence chiefs were wanted.
But some top government officials are opposed to the arrest of the two former intelligence chiefs because of the implications for the nation’s security apparatchik.
It was also learnt that some members of the diplomatic community had been anxious about the fate of Oke, who is well-respected in intelligence circles in the Western world.
According to investigation, both the search and arrest warrants were signed by a Chief Magistrate II in the Federal Capital Territory.
In the search warrant, the court said based upon information on oath and in writing there is reasonable ground for EFCC officials to enter the residences of Ekpenyong and Oke.
The warrant added: “You are hereby commanded by this state with proper assistance to enter the above named residence and premises and there diligently search for the things aforesaid and if the same or any part thereof are found to bring the things so found and also the said person before this court to be dealt according to law.
“This warrant shall be executed between the hours of five o’ clock and eight o’clock at night and may also be executed at any hour during the day or night.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC has disclosed to the court that it was after Ekpenyong and Oke for “alleged theft and diversion of public funds.”
The anti-graft agency, which made the disclosure in its application for warrant of arrest, alleged that two defendants were “invited by the EFCC but failed to honour the invitation.”
A source in the EFCC said: “We have valid warrants of search and arrest from a court of competent jurisdiction; this is why we intend to go ahead.
“We will soon release the details of all the allegations in the reports referred to us by the presidency. The reports emanated from the investigation conducted by two Presidential Investigative Committees set up by President Muhammadu Buhari.
“We need to put the issues in correct perspective. The President raised a Presidential Investigative Committee on $2.1billion Arms Procurement, which was headed by AVM Jon Ode. Also, another Presidential Investigative Committee was led by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on the $43.4million recovered from a flat at Osborne Towers.
“After perusing the reports, the presidency mandated the EFCC to do follow-up investigations based on the findings of the two committees.
“It is not as if the EFCC is going outside the mandate from the presidency.”
But Department of State Security Services (DSS), some top government officials and members of the kitchen cabinet of the President were allegedly opposed to the arrest of the two former intelligence chiefs.
A government official, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “No one is saying any corrupt person should be spared. I think what some of us detested is the way the EFCC was going about it as if Ekpenyong and Oke are criminals. These are intelligence officers who paid their dues while in service. Their integrity should be preserved pending the conclusion of investigation.
“It is on record that the two affected intelligence chiefs have cooperated with the EFCC so far. In fact, the EFCC has secured the permanent forfeiture of the $43.4million cash seized from Osborne Towers in Ikoyi. The DSS and some of us in government are only calling for decorum in managing their cases.
“For instance, Oke single-handedly coordinated the negotiation for the repatriation of the loot traced to the family of the late Head of State, Gen. Sani Abacha while in the Nigerian High Commission in the United Kingdom. It was a major success recorded by the administration of ex-President Olusegun Obasanjo.
“Since the government of Buhari came on board, Oke had assisted EFCC through the NIA structure in wielding diplomatic and intelligence influence to track looted funds in jurisdictions outside Nigeria.
“The same man raised the bar of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) to international standards with world class facilities. All the contracts were awarded to Julius Berger without Oke being a member of the NIA Tenders Board. And payments for all contracts were effected directly to the contractor.
“I really do not think that Oke deserves any form of humiliation. He was the only security chief who wrote a dissenting report predicting that Jonathan will lose the 2015 general elections. This was even before the poll.
“On Ekpenyong, he personally made his residential address available to EFCC in order to deliver a letter of invitation. What would have informed his arrest.
“We even learnt that he was so prudent that he left some money in billions in the account of the DSS. It is left to the EFCC to ascertain this claim.”