Top level Intelligence sources last night debunked the story published by an online publication, Sahara Reporters, to the effect that top officials of the Buhari Administration were covering up investigations against an integrated energy conglomerate, Sahara Energy Limited.
In the story, Sahara Reporters had mentioned Abba Kyari, Chief of staff to the President and Muhammad Baba, the newly appointed chairman of the Petroleum Products Pricing Regulatory Agency, PPPRA as officials of the Presidency that have been shielding Sahara Energy from investigation and trial.
But a top level State Security source who preferred anonymity told our correspondent on phone last night that the story was not only ridiculous but without foundation and lacking credibility.
He said: “There is no official in The Presidency who does not know that President Buhari does not compromise when it comes to the issue of corruption. The quickest and easiest way to lose your job in that place is to be remotely linked to fraud in whatever form.”
”Who is that official in the Presidency that will want to risk everything by sticking his neck for a company? Apart from Mr. President’s uncompromising stance on corruption, the gentlemen mentioned in the fake story earned their present positions because of their integrity and unblemished records. If Mr. President himself does not breath down EFCC officials’ neck on how it should perform its functions, who is
that official that will have the temerity to want to put pressure on the anti-graft agency. It is just far-fetched.”
The top official explained further that there are some contradictions in the story that exposed the mischief of those behind the publication.
He said: “The same story where it was alleged that these officials were engaged in efforts to shield the company from investigations, also revealed that EFCC officials raided the Lagos and Abuja offices of the company where they carted away computers ostensibly to help their investigations.”
“If indeed the officials mentioned were interested in shielding the company and had the powers to do so, EFCC would not even carry out the so-called raid in the first place as those high level officials would have brought their influence to bear on the agency.”
“To suggest that the Presidency officials “ordered the anti-corruption agency not to publicize the raid,” is a further testimony to the emptiness and illogicality of the story. Does EFCC even possess the power to prevent its activities from not been publicized? Does EFCC carry out its search in secret? If these officials had the ‘power’ to order EFCC not to publicize the so-called raid, will it not have deployed such power to prevent the raid in the first place?” the top Intelligence officer said further.
Our findings revealed that the EFCC did not visit Sahara’s Abuja or Lagos offices on May 26 as indicated in the story. EFCC officials routinely visit high net worth, blue chip companies that have had one form of relationship or the other with government agencies it is investigating.
Such fact finding visits by the agency, it was learnt further, does not amount to a verdict of fraud or any untoward conduct but an exercise aimed at examining such companies’ past relationship with such government agencies that are being investigated.
High level Oil Industry sources told our correspondent that what is probably at play is corporate rivalries, where some corporate entities are trying to implicate others to gain vantage positions in the sector.
Industry watchers say the above position is hard to fault as Sahara Energy, according to sources, has constantly co-operated with EFCC in its investigations and had not hesitated to provide every information required by the anti-graft agency.
Said an oil industry source: “You cannot stampede EFCC to indict a corporate entity that has not been found to have a case to answer. You cannot use the media to blackmail EFCC to do what is not in tandem with the rule of law. No matter the media onslaught, you cannot pass a guilt verdict on an entity without due process. The story is a sham.”
We learnt from high level Security sources that the anti-graft agency dismissed the story as a mere distraction that should not be dignified with a response.
Said the source: “Only recently, the EFCC Acting Chairman said since he was appointed to the position,Mr. President has not summoned him to give him directive on how he should carry out his duties. So if Mr. President is not interfering in the functions of the Agency, where do these officials get their power to order EFCC on what to do from?”
” The insinuation created by the story is an insult to both the EFCC and the president who have shown that corruption will not be tolerated, have zero tolerance for the term sacred cows and have consistently shown this in their exemplary attack on corruption. The story is malicious and bereft of facts,” he concluded.