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No going back on Oke, Ekpeyong’s arrest –Magu

Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has said there is no going back in the bid to effect the arrest of Ita Ekpeyong and Ayo Oke, former director-general of the Department of State Security (DSS) and former head of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), respectively.

Notwithstanding Tuesday’s failed attempt to arrest the duo for questioning and the resultant stand-off, Magu said he was not discouraged.

The EFCC boss who spoke after he attended the inauguration of the committee on recoveries by President Muhammadu Buhari at the State House, Abuja, said the agency has concrete evidence against the former DSS and NIA heads.

He vowed that the law would take its course, noting that no one is above the law.

But when contacted, Ekpeyong declined to comment, as he said  the DSS was in a better position to speak on his aborted arrest by officials of the EFCC.

“I can’t comment on it now. Please, if you want anything, just ask my office. They will tell you whatever you want to hear,” Ekpeyong said.

There was confusion in Asokoro district, Abuja on Tuesday when armed guards of the NIA and DSS prevented officials of the EFCC from arresting their former bosses. It was reported that attempts by EFCC officials and policemen to arrest them were resisted by armed officials at their homes on Mamman Nasir Street in the Asokoro district of Abuja. The standoff caused panic and gridlock in the area.

Ekpeyong is being investigated for offences bordering on alleged theft and diversion of public funds in the arms deal saga involving former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.) and other service chiefs who have since been arraigned, while Oke, who was recently sacked by President Buhari for allegedly stashing away N13 billion in an Ikoyi apartment is reported to have refused to honour invitations for over three weeks.

Meanwhile, the Senate has said it would investigate the incidents.

The upper legislative chamber at its plenary on Tuesday, said it would set up an adhoc committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the face-off. The committee is expected to report back within two weeks.

It took the decision, following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Dino Melaye. He said the open face-off between the security agencies has embarrassed Nigeria before the international community.

“We are not here to say who is to blame. We have been embarrassed before the international community. That two sister agencies will engage in fisticuffs is a national embarrassment. Arrest and stoppage of arrests is bad. Mr. President, this is a recipe for national disaster,” Melaye said.

Deputy Minority Whip, Biodun Olujimi called on President Buhari to call heads of security agencies to order.

“There has to be someone we can hold responsible when two brothers are fighting. The person that is supposed to be held responsible has not done anything, he is not doing his work. This is the first time we will see gross irresponsibility in government whereby there is no arbiter. No one to come in between two agencies that belong to only one person. The two agencies report to one person, the Presidency, and now we find them fighting on the pages of the newspapers. It’s a shame. We are calling on the president. He has to sit up. He should be up and doing; call these people to order,”Olujimi fired.

Olujimi’s position was countered by the Senate Leader, Ahmad Lawan, who said President Buhari is still in charge. He however supported the position of his colleagues that the issue be investigated.

As the claim and counter-claim rage, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has flayed the clash, which it said was counter-productive to the fight against grand corruption.

In a statement signed by its deputy director Timothy Adewale, SERAP said preventing the arrest of Ekpeyong and Oke to answer the charges of corruption against them amounted to abuse of power and obstruction of justice.

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