The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has released a former Director-General of the Department of State Services, Mr Ita Ekpeyong, hours after his arrest.
He served as the head of the DSS from 2010 to 2015.
EFCC officials supported by armed policemen had arrested Mr Ekpeyong on Thursday.
One of our correspondents, who witnessed the arrest of Ekpenyong at his residence at 46 Mamman Nasir Street, Asokoro District, Abuja, reported that EFCC operatives, accompanied by over 20 armed policemen, searched the white mansion for about two hours.
It was, however, learnt that no money was found in the building.
It could not be established if any incriminating document was found in the house.
Around 3.20pm, however, Ekpenyong was taken away in a black Toyota Land Cruiser and driven to the head office of the EFCC in the Wuse 2 area of Abuja.
A source at the EFCC said, “The search was not as fruitful as we had expected it to be because the man had 10 months to dispose of all evidences. We are, however, questioning him and we will get more information.”
When contacted on the telephone, the spokesman for the EFCC, Mr Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed Ekpenyong’s arrest. He, however, declined to provide more information.
“The former DSS boss was brought in this afternoon. He is currently in our custody,” Uwujaren said.
Ekpenyong was, however, released a few hours later to return on Friday for another round of questioning.
Ekpenyong, it was learnt, was under investigation as part of a larger probe into how billions of naira was transferred from the Central Bank of Nigeria to the DSS and the National Intelligence Agency in the build-up to the 2015 general elections.
While $289,202,382 (N57.8bn at the time) was given to the NIA, about N20bn was handed to the Department of State Services.
The funds were approved by the embattled former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retd.), reportedly under the instruction of then President, Goodluck Jonathan, according to memos.
“We want to know how the money given to the DSS was spent and how much Ekpenyong left for his successor (Lawal Daura),” an EFCC source said.
The EFCC is working on the theory that Daura allegedly diverted the funds left behind by Ekpenyong.
“When we tried to investigate the matter, the DSS, under the leadership of Daura, refused to cooperate with us and even threatened to shoot our men when we attempted to execute a search warrant last year. We believe he was trying to cover his tracks,” the source said.
Meanwhile, it was learnt that the EFCC would invite more officials of the DSS as part of investigations into the $2.1bn arms scam.
Recall that the EFCC had, in a statement, last year said several DSS officials had been summoned for their alleged role in the scam but that Daura refused to cooperate.
Operatives of the DSS had on November 21, 2017 prevented men of the EFCC from arresting Ekpenyong and a former boss of the National Intelligence Agency, Ayodele Oke.
“In the course of investigating the arms procurement scandal, the office of the commission has had cause to request the release of officers of other security agencies, including the Nigerian army, the Nigerian Air Force, the Nigerian Navy and now the DSS, for questioning. All, but the DSS, have acceded to this request,” the EFCC had lamented.
The DSS had been refusing to cooperate on the grounds that the Act establishing the agency states that the agency shall only be answerable to the Presidency and, therefore, only the Presidency can investigate it.