Culprits of Ikoyi Billions Saga Won’t Go Unpunished, Buhari Vows

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Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

All individuals found culpable in the Osborne Towers scandal will not go unpunished, President Muhammadu Buhari reiterated Tuesday in Abuja.

The president, according to a statement by his spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, made the promise while receiving the report of the presidential panel mandated to review the operational, technical and administrative structures of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

The statement said Buhari described the discovery of monies in the different currencies amounting to about $43.4 million in a flat at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos last April, as an ‘‘unfortunate incident which rightly aroused public interest and outcry”.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in April had discovered $43 million, N23 million and £27,800 in an apartment in the luxury apartment.

The NIA later claimed ownership of the money, resulting in the suspension and eventual sack of the then Director-General of NIA, Mr. Ayo Oke, following the recommendations of a three-man committee led by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo.

The president later set up another committee chaired by Ambassador Babagana Kingibe to review the operational, technical and administrative structures of NIA.

The committee submitted its report to the president in the State House Tuesday where he promised to ensure that culprits of the scandal were adequately sanctioned.

“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 it for me to assure all that justice will be done consistent with our anti-corruption policies,” the president was quoted as saying.

Buhari, while commending the Presidential Review Panel on the NIA led by Kingibe, a former Minister of Foreign Affairs, for expeditious completion of its assignment, expressed hope that the recommendations of the panel and those of the Osinbajo-led committee would assist the government in improving the operations of NIA and the overall national security architecture.

“Your panel’s recommendation, informed as it is, by your collective experience and expertise in this field, should in particular help to reposition the NIA to better perform its vital functions with greater professionalism.

“The Osborne Tower incident and its aftermath have 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 was quoted to have informed the panel.