Senate blames EFCC over face-off with NIA, DSS

Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.
Chambers of the Nigerian Senate used to illustrate the story.

The Senate has cautioned the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) to exercise restraint when dealing with sister security agencies.

The recommendation follows the adoption of the report of an ad-hoc committee set up to investigate a face-off between armed operatives of the EFCC, the State Security Service, (SSS) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Officials of the SSS and EFCC were involved in a showdown in November when the anti-graft operatives attempted to arrest the immediate past Director-General of the SSS, Ekpenyong Ita, and the former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke.

Presenting their findings, chairman of the committee, Francis Alimikhena, noted the lack of cooperation among the security outfits, which he said led to the face-off.

“There exists an acrimony between the chief executive officers of these security agencies. This was noticed from the outset of the investigation, leading the committee to conduct the hearings in camera as well as holding separate meetings with the security agencies.

“This lack of cooperation and cohesion is reflected at a secondary level with the EFCC and the NSA belonging to one group and the NIA and DSS belonging to another group. Accordingly, the principle of espirit-de-corps appears to be lost between this two groups.

“The failure of the Office of the National Security Adviser to act on the letter by the Director-General, DSS, dated 25th July, 2017, by implication, amounted to failure to discharge its statutory responsibilities as contained in Section 4 of the National Security Agencies Act, Cap 74 LFN 2004.

“Although the EFCC acted within the ambit of the law by obtaining all the relevant search warrants from the Court of Law (in a bid to arrest these Security Officers), the Commission failed to obtain authorisation from the NSA or the President in accordance with Section 4 of National Security Agency Act, Cap 74 LFN 2004, before obtaining the search warrant.”

The committee report recommended that the EFCC should “maintain decorum” whenever it attempts to deal with other sister agencies.

“That EFCC, when dealing with sister agencies that are clandestine in nature must conduct its activities with minimum publicity in order to retain the integrity of the institutions. Public altercations as witnessed between these agencies must not be allowed to repeat itself.

“That search and arrest operation that may be conducted in the future on these agencies must first have the presidential approval. it must be done in a discreet manner rather than in a full public glare.”

The committee recommended that President Muhammadu Buhari intervene in the matter while urging the security agencies to “be properly guided against blanket investigations as these can jeopardise our security operations and bring our country into disrepute both locally and internationally.”

The committee also recommended an amendment of National Security Agencies Act Cap N74 LFN 2010 with a view to giving powers of control to the “Co-ordinator on National Security” over these agencies on behalf of the President.

All the recommendations were adopted by the lawmakers.

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