Indications emerged on Saturday that the Presidency will not interfere or give special treatment in the ongoing anti-graft investigations of former senior government officials of the Goodluck Jonathan administration. Reliable sources in government told our newspaper over the weekend that the presidency will not order the anti-graft agencies to stop the investigations or refrain from searching the residences and property of the affected senior government officials.
These feelers emerged even as former vice president Namadi Sambo cried out that the “repeated invasion” of his house in Kaduna was a ploy by anti-graft agencies to implicate him. On Wednesday, a combined team of policemen, Independent Corrupt Practices and Related Offences Commission officials and some agents said to be officials of the Department of State Services had raided Sambo’s house said to be unoccupied at the time. According to the reports, the operatives, who arrived at the house in a bus and Toyota Hilux van at 3pm, cordoned off the road leading to the residence and barred motorists and pedestrians while the two-hour search lasted.
Sambo, in a statement on Saturday by his Media Adviser, Mr. Umar Sani, said the invasion of his 1, Alimi Road un-occupied residence in Kaduna on Wednesday was the fifth in six months. Sani expressed fears that the security agencies might raid the house again with the intention of planting an incriminating object there.
He said, “The recent desperation exhibited by some security agencies in carrying out a raid on an unoccupied residence blocking all entry and exit points, in a commando-style and coming along with a bullion van speaks volumes of the clandestine intention of the security operatives.
“It is therefore worrisome to note that the consistency with which the searches occurred and the intervals between them, portrays a desire of a fault-finding mission. We are apprehensive that a repeat of such episode will not be surprising if an incriminating object is planted in his residence in order to willfully and deliberately incriminate him.
“The desperation of some of the security agencies is glaring going by the number of times such searches were conducted and still counting. We hope it is not a way to try to give a dog a bad name in order to hang it.”
However, a top government official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, dismissed the allegations of persecution, saying “This government does not dictate to anti-graft agencies how they should carry out their duties, so far they are doing so based on the rule of law.”
The official also added that the anti-graft agencies did not have to take instructions from the Presidency before carrying out their lawful duties.
He said, “They do not have to clear anything from the Presidency while carrying out their legitimate duties. So, the need to get clearance did not arise in this particular case (Sambo’s case) you are talking about. We learnt about it the same way you and other people learnt about it.”
There have been speculations that the Jonathan administration reached some understanding with the then incoming Buhari administration, for senior officials, specifically the president and vice-president not to be probed.
However, the senior official debunked the speculation, adding that he was not aware that the Muhammadu Buhari administration had any understanding with any person or persons that they won’t be probed.
“You know one of the major promises made by the President and the All Progressives Congress ahead of the 2015 election was that they will fight corruption. This administration has been doing that. I am not aware that there is any exception,” he said.
When further asked if Sambo’s alleged persecution formed part of discussion during a recent meeting he had with the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, the source said he was not privy to the discussion at the meeting.
“As far as I know, it was a courtesy visit by former vice-president Sambo. He had a one-on-one with the Acting President. I was not at that meeting, so I was not privy to their discussion,” he said.
But Sambo’s aide, Sani, said, “This raid brings to fifth, the number of times the residence was searched within a period of six months and on each occasion valuable fittings were deliberately destroyed.”
He noted that such a raid was not conducted on the former vice-president’s Link Road residence in Kaduna and his Abuja apartment, both of which were occupied.
He stated, “As the visit of the operatives was unscheduled, the reasons for the search were not specifically stated. However, the outcome of the search was made known. At the end of the whole exercise, the officers, who carried out the search were satisfied that nothing incriminating was found. As a law-abiding citizen, the former vice-president did not raise the alarm in the previous invasions in view of the fact that he has nothing to hide.
Meanwhile, the DSS had on Friday said that its operatives were not involved in the raid on Sambo’s house.
A senior officer at the Public Relations Unit of the DSS, Mr. Nnana Nnochiri, who responded to one of our correspondents’ inquiries, said officials of the agency were not part of the team that searched the house.
He said, “We have carried out investigation to ascertain the identity of those involved in the raid.
“We have spoken with all our directors in Kaduna and the states close to the state where the incident happened, but I can conveniently tell you that our officials were not part of it.
“Apart from this, we have also done our investigation to ascertain the agency or the agencies that went there, the DSS was not among them.
“While we are happy that you called to find out what we discovered there, I must also have to disappoint you to say that, while I cannot say the items that were either found or seized there, but I can conveniently say we were not at the scene.”
The spokesperson for the ICPC, Mrs. Rasheedat Okoduwa, had told one of our correspondents on the telephone on Wednesday that she was not aware of the search and thus could not comment.