The Director of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), Modibbo Tukur, has suspended two associate directors of the agency for initiating probes against Atiku Abubakar and Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
In a letter dated January 13, 2021, and seen by PREMIUM TIMES, Tukur said the two officials, Mohammed Mustapha and Fehintola Salisu, were suspended for writing memos to local and foreign authorities and bypassing his authorisation to initiate probes against the two politicians.
Tukur said Mustapha, associate director, Intelligence and Investigation, and Salisu, associate director, Compliance and Analysis, were suspended in August for the alleged infractions.
According to the NFIU boss, the suspension of the officials was “to protect the new FIU from series of abuses they have been committing.”
Responding to a petition sent to the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC), Tukur said the two officials were involved in insubordination and disobedience of lawful authority.
“The two staff (members) were involved in acts inimical to the interest of the unit as they indulged in insubordination and disobedience of lawful authority,” he stated.
Tukur said Mustapha wrote to the Inspector-General of Police and the Chair of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on Abubakar without authorisation in violation of his standing directive.
“Prior to this incident, I had issued memos and emails to staff and also issue (sic) several repeated verbal warnings that staff should desist from writing Heads of MDAs without formal approval of the Director/CEO,” Tukur stated.
He added, “He was suspended because he independently wrote a request to both Inspector General of Police and the Chairman EFCC on former Vice President Atiku Abubakar without any form of approval or authorisation from the CEO NFIU who was on duty too.
“Herein attached as Annexure 3 are copies of the letters he sent without approval to these organisations.”
“I only got to know of Mohammed’s action when I was informed at the Villa that Atiku Abubakar is seeking for an appointment with the President to report me for causing his investigation without reason.”
On Salisu’s role in Atiku’s case, Tukur said: “She claimed to have minuted the request on the investigation of Atiku Abubakar to Mustapha AbdulRahman (Mr Mustapha) who went ahead to write IGP and the EFCC Chairman directly, all without approval while I was actively on duty as the Head of Agency.”
Tukur also alleged that Mustapha sent a request to the United States of America based on an old Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) case against Tinubu.
Accusing Mustapha of violating procedure, the NFIU Director said his approval as the CEO of the agency was not sought before the move to initiate a probe against Tinubu was initiated.
He stated, “Significantly, after his suspension, it was discovered that he initiated a request to the U.S on Bola Ahmed Tinubu which he extracted from an old case of CCB.
“Again, he did this without my approval and authorisation.
“The problem here Sir is that as the CEO, he is supposed to formally seek my approval before sending out any requests for investigation as doing otherwise after my circulars and instructions to staff amount to insubordination.”
Tukur also justified Mustapha’s suspension on the grounds that he was being investigated by both the State Security Service (commonly called the Department of State Service, DSS) and the EFCC for different alleged offences.
According to him, while the SSS is investigating the suspended official for allegedly leaking the details of the case against then Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN), Walter Onnoghen, to the public, the EFCC is questioning him for opening an account for the FIU without approval.
Aside from Salisu’s alleged involvement in Abubakar’s case, Tukur also accused her of bypassing his approval in initiating investigations into the personal bank account of judges and National Assembly members “without any tangible or justifiable reasons” in 2019.
He stated that the letter was written by Salisu to banks requesting the personal details of the public officers “created serious problems for the Presidency, the CJN and the Senate President.”