The Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, has said that it was not certain whether the huge amount of money discovered by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Lagos, were paid by the apex bank to the National Intelligence Agency, NIA.
Spokesman of the CBN, Isaac Okoroafor, made this known when journalists contacted him to react to the recent development. Operatives of the EFCC said they found $43,449,947, £27,800 and N23,218,000 in a residential apartment at Osborne Towers, Ikoyi, Lagos.
But the NIA has claimed that the money belongs to the agency, having been approved by former President Goodluck Jonathan, for some “covert” operations the agency was conducting.
Director General of the NIA, Ayodele Oke, was quoted as saying that the money, valued at N13 billion going by the current official exchange rate, had been released in cash by the CBN in order to maintain the discreet nature of the assignment for which it was approved.
Okoroafor, the CBN spokesman, said he was not sure, as at Saturday April 15, that the recovered money was moved directly from the bank to the NIA.
“It is true the Central Bank of Nigeria issues mint fresh notes, but it is only to banks,” he said.
“After that (issuance to banks) CBN does not know which of their customers they (the banks) give those notes to and for what purpose.
“I cannot say if the notes the NIA is claiming came from the CBN. So, I will not be able to answer questions on it for now, except I receive a specific request,” Okoroafor added.
There had been several theories as to who the owner of the huge amount of money is.
A former managing director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Esther Nnamdi-Ogbue, former National Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Adamu Muazu and current Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, have all been linked to the money.
All have denied ownership.
But the governor of Rivers State, Nyesom Wike, has insisted that the money belongs to the State, being part of the funds allegedly stolen by Amaechi, who is his immediate predecessor.
However, despite all the noise so far generated by the recent discovery by the EFCC, former President Goodluck Jonathan has remained silent on the matter, with his media aide, Ikechukwu Eze, declining several requests to state the ex-president’s side of the story.
The NIA DG, Ayodele Oke, said the funds were approved by Jonathan and many Nigerians believe the President should speak up and clear the air on the issue.
President Muhammadu Buhari is yet to make an official statement on the matter.