A former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar (rtd), on May 23, 1999 signed an instrument that protects the Department of State Services from being investigated by an external body.
And based on this instrument, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is ‘powerless’ to scrutinise the financial accounts of the Nigerian secret police.
Rather, the Instrument made the Director General (DG) of the Secret Service responsible only to the President, as far as the spending of funds from security vote and other sources is concerned.
It will be recalled that the EFCC had, last Tuesday, attempted to arrest a former DG of the Service, Mr. Ita Ekpenyong, at his No.46 Mamman Nasir Street, Asokoro, Abuja residence. Ekpenyong was the head of the secret service between 2010 and 2015.
The anti-graft agency’s move was, however, frustrated by armed personnel of the Secret Police, who had refused to grant the anti-graft agency’s team access to the property.
In a reaction to the development 24 hours after, Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, had vowed to effect the arrests of Ekpenyong, and sacked DG of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), Ambassador Ayodele Oke, who is being investigated over the discovery of N13 billion at an Ikoyi apartment.
According to the New Telegraph, the document, which is also referred to as ‘Instrument No. SSS1, specifically stated that the Service’s accounts shall not be open to external audit.
According to the Instrument, “The Director- General is responsible to the President, Commander- in-Chief of the Armed Forces for the proper expenditure and of all funds made available to the Service from the security vote (and) any other source.
“The accounts of the State Security Service shall not be subject to external audit, but the Director-General shall, by the first week of March each year, render to the President, Commander-in- Chief of the Armed Forces, returns of expenditure, and copy the National Security Adviser.
“If any existing Service Regulation is inconsistent with the provisions of this Instrument, the provisions of this Instrument shall prevail, and that Regulation shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be void.” In the face of the interagency squabble, a former State Director of the DSS, Mr. Mike Ejiofor, has called on President Muhammadu Buhari, to weigh-in, with a view to restoring the needed synergy among agencies of government.
It was the security expert’s considered view that the President’s intervention will restore sanity, and re-establish the needed synergy among agencies of government. According to him, “With that Instrument, no agency or person is authorised to look into the spending of the State Security Service.
“Unless that law is repealed by the National Assembly, there is nothing anybody can do about it. You cannot put something on nothing. “The President must step in to restore sanity because it is not good for inter-agency cooperation.”
Efforts to get reaction from the EFCC did not yield expected result, as its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, simply asked: “Have you seen the Instrument?” When this newspaper answered in the affirmative, Uwujaren requested: “I haven’t seen it. You can mail a copy to me.”