- EFCC boss dismisses notion of street fight between operatives of agencies
Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The cold war between the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr. Lawal Daura, and the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, was apparent Thursday when both men noticeably shunned each other at a Senate hearing.
Daura and Magu did not exchange pleasantries when they both appeared before the Senate ad hoc committee charged with investigating the recent face-off that occurred between the operatives of both agencies, even though the hearing was yet to commence.
On November 21, operatives of the DSS had prevented officials of the EFCC from arresting its former DG, Mr. Ita Ekpenyong, at his Asokoro residence in Abuja.
Officials of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) also prevented EFCC operatives from arresting the sacked DG of NIA, Mr. Ayo Oke, from his residence in the same neighbourhood.
Reacting to the face-off, the Senate on November 22 summoned Daura, Magu and the acting DG of the NIA, Ambassador Mohammed Dauda, over both incidents.
At the venue of the hearing Thursday, Magu and other staff of the EFCC were already seated before Daura walked in at 2.46 p.m., also accompanied by DSS officials.
Maintaining an expressionless facade, Daura took the front seat on the left row from where the EFCC officials were already seated.
The acting head of the NIA also walked in a few minutes later.
The chairman of the Senate ad hoc committee, Senator Francis Alimekhena, in his opening remarks, said it was necessary to get to the root of the altercation between the agencies.
“This committee was not set up to witch-hunt any of you but to prevent recurrences like this in the future. The altercation is a serious security breach which can lead to anarchy.
“This is not a banana republic and the laws of the land must be obeyed,” Alimekhena said.
At the request of Daura for a closed-door session, the committee members argued over whether the submissions should be taken with the press present or not.
Senators Shaaba Lafiagi (Kwara APC) and Chukwuka Utazi (Enugu PDP) were of the view that issues that border on security were bound to be discussed, and should not be made public.
Eventually, the committee resolved to hold the hearing behind closed doors in a smaller hearing room where the submissions of the agencies would be taken separately and on separate days.
Magu, in his brief remarks earlier, said there was no clash between his men and those of the DSS, as EFCC officials had withdrawn “peacefully”.
“There was no street fight; we did not fight anyone. So, the reference is not proper, with all due respect. My men went there to execute a warrant of arrest and when they could not, they withdrew peacefully,” Magu said.
Thereafter, the senators and their guests left the hall to another room for the closed-door session.