The Department of State Services, The Police and other Federal Government security agencies are at logger heads over a petition submitted to them by a former Chairman of the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriation, Abdulmumin Jibrin.
In the petition, Jibrin accused the Speaker of the House, Yakubu Dogara, three principal officers and eight committee chairmen of padding the 2016 budget to the tune of N480bn. He wowever submitted the petition to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission.
The three principal officers accused by Jubrin are the Deputy Speaker, Yusuf Lasun; the House Whip, Alhassan Doguwa; and the Minority Leader, Leo Ogor.
It was learnt on Wednesday that each of the agencies had insisted that it would conduct independent investigation into the allegations. Meanwhile the EFCC had expected the other agencies to refer the petition to it since i lies within its juridisction.
On Saturday, the DSS shut the office of House Committee on Appropriation. According to sources, the action was part of measures to pre-empt those involved in the padding from altering evidence.
In the words of a top security officer who spoke with The Punch:
“There are indications that each of the agencies is conducting its investigation and there is no way they will not clash.”
The Force Public Relations Officer, Donald Awunah, said the police would investigate Jubrin’s petition, adding that the fact that the petition was submitted to other agencies could not deter the police from acting on it. He affirmed that “The IG will take the necessary action.”
Awunah added that he was not in the position to speak for the other agencies involved, adding that the police would treat the case in accordance with their mandate:
“I cannot speak for other organisations; every organisation has its own laws governing it. They are at liberty to do what is expected of them in accordance with their laws. The police would carry out investigation into the allegations in accordance with our mandate.”
An investigating team set up by the Inspector -General of Police, Mr. Ibrahim Idris met Jubrin on Tuesday. The team, led by an Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Amodu Ali, had earlier invited Dogara and three other principal officers for interrogation.
All efforts to contact the spokesman for the EFCC, Wilson Uwujaren failed as calls to his mobile phone did not go through. Although he had on Monday confirmed that Jubrin had tendered his petition before the commission.
“I understand that a petition has been submitted; like any other petition, we will look into it” he had said.
A competent source in the DSS told The PUNCH that the department had begun its investigation.
“Our investigation is different. As you are aware, we have sealed the appropriation committee’s office. We are ahead of others in our investigation,” the source said.
In the meantime, Mrs. Rasheedat Okuwa, the spokesperson for the ICPC, said she could not comment on enforcement matters.
It should be recalled that on Monday, Jubrin tweeted via his handle:
“The case against Dogara and others included corrupt enrichment, abuse of office and breach of public trust.”
According to Security experts, Jibrin’s decision to submit the petition to all security agencies might usher in unnecessary rivalry among the services, a development which in itself might see to the end of the investigations.
A security analyst, Ben Okezie who spoke with Punch correspondent was of the opinion that there should not be any controversy over the investigation, adding that the Attorney-General of the Federation could also direct a particular agency to carry out the necessary investigations.
“This is a case for those who investigate criminality; DSS don’t investigate criminal issues, DSS sniff out information to give to the police, the military and other agencies. They are supposed to give such information or intelligence to the office of the National Security Adviser as the clearing house.
“It happened at the height of the Boko Haram insurgency when the DSS and the police were competing with each other over which agency should handle insurgency matters until they brought them under the National Orientation Agency, they then started speaking with one voice,” he said.
According to a retired Commissioner of Police, Alhaji Abubakar Tsav, it was the responsibility of the police to investigate the allegations. He noted that the special fraud unit was well equipped to probe Jibrin’s petition.
He said, “Instead of the agencies struggling to investigate the allegations, I believe they should allow the police to handle the case.
“The agencies should not engage in superiority contest, because they are working towards the same goal. Whatever information the other agencies have should be given to the police. If the police, the EFCC, the ICPC and the DSS are all investigating the case; when they get to court, they will fail.”