There was a near shootout Tuesday between operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and men of the Department of State Services (DSS).
The incident reportedly resulted from the refusal by operatives of the state service to allow operatives of the anti-graft commission to arrest Ita Ekpeyong, former Director General of DSS, and Ayo Oke, former boss of National Intelligence Agency (NIA).
Operatives of the EFCC allegedly stormed the Mamman Nur Street residence of both men in a commando-style, with a retinue of cameramen, with the intention of not only affecting their arrests but also making a media spectacle of the operation.
Realising this, security details attached to Oke immediately warned that EFCC team not to proceed any further because no order was received by them to surrender Oke.
The NIA and DSS are security and intelligence gathering agencies.
While the former focuses on the external interest of Nigeria, the latter takes care of internal security.
Both agencies complement each other and are considered in global intelligence network as ultra-secretive.
Tempers flared at EFCC’s attempt to whisk the former DGs away and the scene became charged.
When EFCC media team tried to record the proceedings with cameras, DSS operatives immediately cocked their guns, ready to shoot.
The commission’s men reportedly responded in the same manner by also cocking their guns.
This locked the combatants in tension but common sense prevailed at the last minute.
INDEPENDENT learnt that the EFCC could, however, not make away with Oke and Ekpeyong.
The EFCC had invited Oke for questioning in connection with the $43 million found in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos.
Oke’s wife, who had also been summoned, was identified as the owner of the apartment.
Ekpeyong was accused of leading an agency which compromised during the 2015 election.
While the tension lasted, vehicular and human movements were restricted on Mamman Nur Street.
Armed plain-clothed security personnel were seen mounting strategic positions on the street.
Both agencies have chosen not to speak on the altercation, but unofficial sources have tried to explain the rift, putting the blames on each of the agencies.
“The DGs of NIA and DSS are not anybody you just come and pick up; there are issues of national security involved here,” explained a DSS operative who spoke to INDEPENDENT anonymously.
He further added that Magu’s EFCC could not be trusted, especially where men like Oke and Ekpeyong were concerned.
“Ask yourself, how do high profile investigations of top politically exposed individuals get into the front pages of some newspapers?
“These are matters still under investigation and before you know it, you have newspapers reporting details of an investigative report not yet concluded.
“Are you not aware of some instances where EFCC was condemned by courts for trial by media?
“What the former DGs of NIA and DSS have in their heads are serious national security details that should not find their way into the newspaper,” the source explained.
Attempts at getting Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC’s Head of Media and Publicity, to comment on the matter was not successful as his phone was switched off.
But an insider at the commission said the DSS explanation couldn’t be true.
He said the EFCC had a standing protocol on the matter.
“I believe that Oke and Ekpeyong have been invited on several occasions by the commission and they ignored the invitations; the EFCC has to do its job,” the EFCC source said.
Tuesday’s confrontation, to many observers, appears to confirm the many stories of underground rift between Ibrahim Magu, Chairman, EFCC, and Lawal Daura, DG of DSS.
Since the beginning of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in 2015, there had been a major tiff between both men as there were allegations and counter-allegations of usurpation of official duties.
During the arms probe, for instance, the DSS stated that it had to be the lead agency on the matter because it involved national security, but the EFCC was said to have countered the DSS’s position by insisting that it was a matter involving financial sleaze, which fell within its purview.
Magu, the EFCC boss further stated that an EFCC investigation of the arms deal would give further credibility to the process and boost President Buhari’s avowed anti-corruption fight.
INDEPENDENT learnt that Babagana Monguno, National Security Adviser, under whose office the probe was domiciled, weighed in, favouring Magu’s EFCC.
Ever since, sources claimed, Magu’s EFCC and Daura’s DSS have been locked in feud.
The incident at Asokoro wouldn’t be the first time the DSS and EFCC would be involved in a public spat.
The Senate had based its non-confirmation of Magu’s appointment on a report on him by the DSS.
The DSS had accused Magu of being corrupt, an allegation which the anti-graft czar has denied.
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