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SSS quizzes ex-NNPC boss, Barkindo * Seizes passports of Yar'Adua's men *FG restricts ex-ministers *Aondoakaa delayed

SSS quizzes ex-NNPC boss, Barkindo * Seizes passports of Yar'Adua's men *FG restricts movement of ex-ministers *Aondoakaa delayed at airport

FACTS emerging in Abuja indicated that security agencies have opened up investigations into activities of the immediate past Group Managing Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Dr. Mohammed Barkindo..



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Sources said that he was being probed on the orders from above over alleged misdemeanour while in office.

It was gathered that operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) and the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) were involved in the ongoing probe and that the former NNPC boss was questioned by some officials of the SSS in Abuja last week.

It was learnt that the former NNPC boss was being investigated over alleged anti-government activities, especially the purchase of some high calibre equipment which were not covered under the budget of his corporation.

It was gathered that the NNPC boss was fingered as one of the alleged sponsors of the widely discussed cabal around ailing President Umaru Yar'Adua.

Sources said that the organisations had been investigating some officials and their link with the importation of certain equipment in the build-up to the surreptitious return of ailing President Yar'Adua to Nigeria.

Some life support machines were brought into the country through the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja and the Aminu Kano International Airport, Kano without inspection by men of Customs.

Investigations had linked some top Nigerians and a retired general to the importation but details were still being pieced together when Barkindo was sacked.

A source said that Barkindo had appeared before a team of SSS operatives to answer questions on certain issues last week.

It was also learnt that the ex-NNPC boss was also being investigated over certain issues relating to the oil industry.

For instance, a source said that the agencies wanted to know whether there was a deliberate sabotage by some forces at NNPC, as it took a threat from the former minister before sanity returned to the oil supply chain

Said the source: "We have it on good authority that security operatives are looking for details relating to the sources of funding for the shipment of certain security equipment. It is necessary to get to the root of some of these things for the sake of the nation's future."

There were reports that the shipment of a particular equipment through Aminu Kano International Airport led to a row within the Customs because the equipment was said to have been moved into the country without due inspection by men of the Customs.

Sources said that the said equipment was allowed to enter Nigeria through Aminu Kano Airport, though the owners refused to disclose what was in the container and that a retired general had to intervene to ensure passage.

It was also learnt that the international passports of members of the cabal, who are already being investigated by the security operatives, had been seized by the government.

A source said that the passports of close presidential aides, who are regarded as members of the kitchen cabinet or the cabal around Yar'Adua, had been being seized by the security agents.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has restricted the movement of all former ministers, as well as those currently serving in the cabinet, for close monitoring.

It was gathered that the order was said to have been forwarded to security officials at all airports and borders so as to prevent those who were still being investigated from travelling outside the country.

It was also learnt on Sunday that the former Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Mike Aondoakaa, became the first victim of the directive, when his protocol officer was barred from checking in his luggage for a trip to Rome at the Abuja airport.

It was gathered that Aondoakaa's aide had gone to the airport to check in his luggage for a trip to attend a programme of the United Nations.

A source confirmed that the aide was told he could not check in the luggage as he could not produce a clearance from the office of the National Security Adviser (NSA) for the purpose.

One source close to the ex-minister said the former Attorney-General got in touch with the office of the NSA, where he was fully briefed of the new directive.

According to sources, Aondoakaa was told that no former minister was allowed to travel out of the country without a clearance from the NSA.

He was also told that the directive did not exclude serving ministers and that what he needed to do was to apply to the office of the NSA for clearance.

A source said Aondoakaa immediately applied and his clearance was released on Sunday evening.

A source said the former minister informed the NSA that he was due for a meeting at the UN Informational Institute for the Unification of Private Law and he was representing both Nigeria and the African Union (AU).

It was gathered that the directive to security agencies was in line with the decision to probe the activities of all former ministers and while some of those people with critical cases would have their passports seized, those who were only under investigation would be required to secure clearance from the NSA whose office would confirm the status of the affected minister and either approve the trip or refuse clearance as appropriate.

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