Supremacy clash: Senate grills Magu, Daura, others in secret
The Senate ad hoc committee set up to investigate the November 21, 2017, showdown between officials of the Department of State Services and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in Abuja began its investigative hearing on Thursday behind closed doors.
In attendance at the hearing were the Director General, Department of State Services, Mr. Lawal Daura; Acting Chairman, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu; and Acting Director General, NIA, Mr. Mohammed Dauda.
Daura, Magu and Dauda, who were at the venue long before members of the committee arrived and sat far apart, did greet each other.
Magu was accompanied by officials of the EFCC deployed for the attempted arrest of the immediate past Director-General of the DSS, Mr. Ita Ekpenyong; and former Director-General, NIA, Ambassador Ayo Oke, on November 21, which were prevented by DSS operatives.
The probe was similar to an earlier one by the Senate into the controversial reinstatement of former Chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reforms, Abdul-Rasheed Maina, into the service of the Federal Government.
The panel, chaired by Senator Emmanuel Paulker, had conducted its investigative hearings behind closed doors but the House of Representatives conducted the same probe on a live broadcast.
Chairman of the committee, Senator Francis Alimikhena, after his opening remarks at the hearing on EFCC/DSS clash, asked if any of the heads of the agencies in attendance had any observations or questions.
The NIA and EFCC bosses said they had none but the DSS boss asked that the hearing be conducted in camera.
Daura said, “I will like to seek or ask the distinguished committee whether our testimonies will not be given in the presence of the press.”
Alimikhena agreed with the DSS boss, saying, “I know. Good. We have gone through all your (written) presentations and we have seen all your papers. The matter is of security importance to this country. The Senate and indeed Nigeria want settlement and more cooperation between the three security agencies of this country. So, we will do all that is possible to make you feel comfortable to air your views. With what you have said, we will abide by it and make sure that we give you all the necessary support to make it comfortable for every one of us.”
A member of the committee and Chairman of the Senate Committee on Financial Crimes and Anti-Corruption, Senator Chukwuka Utazi, also called for a closed-door session.
He said, “It is very important and like the chairman has just said, we are here for this investigative hearing to make sure that we listen to all of you who were invited; and at the end of the day, to find a resolution. We want better a collaboration in the discharge of your respective duties. Yes, you are different establishments but you are working for one country. We want to ensure that everything that will be done will, at the end of the day, come out better in terms of resolution of these issues. I support it that most of this will be done in camera and we are going to listen to one another, so that everybody will feel free.”
Other members of the panel, Senator Shaaba Lafiagi and Senator Fatima Raji-Rasaki unanimously agreed to conduct the hearing behind closed doors, after which journalists left the Room 022 venue.
The Senate had on November 23 set up the panel to probe into the clash between operatives of the DSS and EFCC for over 13 hours November 1, when operatives of the commission stormed Ekpenyong’s home to effect his arrest but were resisted by operatives of the service.
Same day at Oke’s home, about seven policemen also cordoned off his residence located at 10 Mamman Nasir Street, Asokoro, despite the search and arrest warrants produced by EFCC operatives on Oke and his wife, Folasade.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, had on November 23 announced members of the committees at the plenary.
They are Alimikhena, Shaaba Lafiagi, Chukwuka Utazi, Abdul-Azeez Nyako, Ajayi Borofice, Fatimah Raji-Rasaki, Shehu Sani and Dino Melaye.
The Senate had on November 22 resolved to conduct an investigation into the controversy.
The ex-DSS boss had been invited by the EFCC for his alleged role in the arms scam involving a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), and other service chiefs who have since been arraigned.
Following the refusal of Ita to honour a series of EFCC invitations, the operatives of the anti-graft agency, armed with an arrest and search warrants, surrounded Ita’s home at 46 Mamman Nasir Street, Asokoro as early as 4am to prevent him from escaping. But officials of the intelligence agency guarding the building had prevented EFCC operatives from gaining entry into the premises.
The EFCC said Oke who was recently sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari for allegedly stashing away N13bn in a house in Ikoyi, had been refusing to honour invitations for over three weeks.Punch