Nigerians have in the past weeks intensely debated the legal and ethical implications of investigating an intelligence agency linked to a huge amount of cash stashed in a private property.
Late April, a former Minister of External Affairs, Bolaji Akinyemi, advised President Muhammadu Buhari to exercise caution in exposing the NIA to external investigation.
“External Intelligence operations do not belong into the same security genre as domestic security forces such as the SSS, EFCC and the Police,” Mr. Akinyemi said.
As minister between 1985 and 1987, Mr. Akinyemi oversaw the activities of the NIA before the agency was restructured and placed under the supervision of the Office of the National Security Adviser.
The former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Secretariat, Emeka Anyaoku, has also spoken against an external investigation, which he said was capable of rubbishing the nation’s capacity to promote a strong foreign policy project.
But several Nigerians have argued that no agency of government expending public funds should be beyond scrutiny.
A presidential probe panel headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has inspected the accounts of the agency and has completed its work.
The panel, which also includes the National Security Adviser, Babagana Monguno; and the Attorney-General Abubakar Malami, had sent two officials from the Office of the Accountant-General of the Federation to peruse the accounts of the NIA.
Last week, some security officials expressed concern about how the statutory privacy of a key security agency was been violated.
“I think we should rethink what is playing out in this case, especially with all former DGs of the NIA, including the longest serving NSA in Nigeria, volunteering to come to Abuja to defend the NIA DG and attempt to save the NIA from destruction. These are the authorities on security in Nigeria,” said a retired security chief closely acquainted with many of the top spy chiefs.
A presidency source confirmed to PREMIUM TIMES that a team of past NIA chiefs had met with all three members of the Osinbajo Panel to table their position.
The EFCC did not respond to request for comments on Monday. The commission’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, neither answered calls nor respond to a text message, after initially promising to revert within minutes.