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.
EFCC officials supported by armed policemen had arrested Mr Ekpeyong on Thursday in his residence in Asokoro, Abuja.
Details about the reason for his arrest are sketchy but the arrest came after his successor Mr Lawal Daura, was fired by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo.
In November 2017, officials of the DSS believed to be acting under the directives of Daura prevented EFCC officials from arresting him.
At the time, he was reportedly wanted by the anti-graft agency for his alleged role in the arms scandal involving a former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (retired).
He served as the head of the DSS from 2010 to 2015.
Meanwhile, the Presidency has ordered proper investigation into how the huge cash said to have been released to security agencies in the country for the 2015 Presidential election was managed and three former security heads, who held strategic positions in the country, are to face questioning by EFCC to determine their involvement or otherwise in expenditure of the cash.
Among those slated for probe are the immediate past Director-General of the DSS, Lawal Daura; Ekpenyong, and former Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency, NIA, Ayo Oke.
The order to subject the former security heads to scrutiny followed two days of extensive meeting between Nigeria’s Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, and the Acting Director General of the DSS, Matthew Seiyefa, and that of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
The opening of investigation into the roles played by the dismissed security head followed Tuesday’s sack of Lawal Daura, who had last November blocked EFCC operatives from gaining access into the Abuja homes of Ekpenyong and Oke for search.
Daura had argued at that time that security expenditure could not be subject of any investigation by the EFCC and that doing so would expose the security agencies to ridicule.
Emboldened by that argument, Daura prevented EFCC operatives who had taken vantage positions in the premises of the two men in Asokoro from entering their homes and searching them. EFCC had broken into an apartment at Ikoyi, linked to Oke’s wife .
The Acting President, had ordered investigation into the huge cash spent after the 2015 elections.
He is also reported to have ordered Seiyefa and Magu to work together and retrieve the cash from whoever was found to have dipped their hands into the till.
As a first step towards unravelling whereabouts of the cash, EFCC operatives, yesterday, swooped on the Abuja home of Ekpenyong on 46, Mamman Nasir Street in Asokoro and searched it for over two hours.
But Vanguard learned that the operatives numbering about 20, who went there in three buses, did not recover any cash or serious documents to aid them in their work.
That notwithstanding, the officers asked Ekpenyong to follow them to their headquarters in Jabi at exactly 3: 20 pm.
But as a mark of respect for the top spy, the heavily armed EFCC operatives allowed him to ride in his own car, while they followed him in their vehicles.
According to the Vanguard EFCC spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, confirmed that the operatives had gone to Ekpenyong’s house to ‘complete the assignment’ they were prevented from carrying out in November last year.
“He has been cooperating with our operatives and we will do our work the way we should do it. We just want him to shed more light on some funds and other issues,” the spokesman said but did not give further details.
When they invaded Ekpenyong’s house last year, close aides raised the alarm that he was being framed for an offence he did not commit.
One of the aides said: “EFCC had never invited or questioned the former D-G on any criminal breach, only for its operatives to barge into his home, with a view to arresting him as a common criminal.’’
Ekpenyong had made it clear that the DSS under his watch had no role whatsoever to play in the arms purchase since it was not within its purview to acquire arms for the military.
“The DSS played no role at all in the arms purchase and that is the truth. The D-G served this country faithfully and transparently and since leaving office in 2015, nobody has had any reason to accuse him of taking anything that does not belong to him.
“As a tradition, the DSS makes returns to the Presidency on March 1 every year on its operations and nothing done by the agency can, therefore, be hidden from the government.
“Assuming that there are issues with DSS management, which the EFCC needed to investigate, the current DSS D-G is there to answer to such matters without storming Ekpenyong’s home with guns,’’ the aide said.
Additional report by Vanguard