A fresh twist has been birthed as regards to the controversy surrounding the ownership of the N13bn ($43.4m, N23m and £27,000) found by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at the Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
It is understood that as at Friday evening, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) are claiming ownership of the money.
Wike made the claim bringing a fresh twist to the controversy over the real ownership of the money – $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23, 218,000 – and the apartment where it was recovered by the EFCC on Wednesday.
The governor said the money was part of what was stolen – and warehoused in the Ikoyi house – by his predecessor and current Minister for Transport, Rotimi Amaechi, from proceeds of sale of the state’s gas turbines to Sahara Energy.
The NIA had in the early hours of Friday said the money belonged to it.
Sources at the agency had said that the money belonged to the agency and that it had written a formal letter to President Muhammadu Buhari to claim ownership of the money.
The NIA, which is Nigeria’s foreign intelligence service, explained that the money, which was found on the seventh floor of the building, was approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan for covert operations and security projects covering a period of years.
The money was said to have been released in bits during the tenure of a former NIA director-general.
The source, who pleaded to have his name withheld, said:
“The money belongs to the NIA. It is for covert operations and security projects covering a period of years.The DG has met with the President, he has explained everything to him. The President asked him to put everything into writing and he has done so.
“The entire chain of events was a big misunderstanding. That place was an NIA safe house and you have to understand that the NIA carries out discreet investigation in conjunction with many agencies across the world.
“On the day the EFCC men gathered around the house, the NIA reached out to Magu to explain to him that the money was the property of the Federal Government and the place was an NIA safe house. Unfortunately, the EFCC still went ahead to break down the doors.”
However, the Rivers States executive described the claim that the cash belonged to the NIA as balderdash.
“We have facts to prove that the said money belongs to the Rivers State Government,” Mr. Wike said. “The Federal Government must return our money.”
“We are giving them seven days to return our money. Otherwise, we would take legal action to recover our money. $43million will help us complete several projects. We need that money for projects.”