The State Security Service (SSS) had on Thursday raided the Hilltop Mansion in a joint operation carried out by operatives from the agency’s headquarters in Abuja and a detachment from the Akwa Ibom State Command of the Service.
Some operatives had earlier told this newspaper they found arms and ammunition in one of the rooms in the complex.
But another top official of the Service said Friday night the claim by his colleagues was an exaggeration. He requested not to be named because he was not authorised to speak on the matter.
“Our men went there expecting weaponry but we didn’t find arms,” he said. “Instead, we stumbled on a room filled with stockpiles of dollars.”
The official said the SSS team however left the dollars untouched for fear of the “political backlash that might result if we evacuate it. They had no instruction to evacuate it”.
One of our sources had earlier said the operatives initially wanted to evacuate the dollar notes but received instructions from their superiors in Abuja to let the notes be.
The secret police was said to have stormed the Hilltop Mansion based on security reports that suggested arms and ammunition were stored in a room there.
After ransacking the entire residence of the governor, which is yet to be occupied by the serving Governor, Udom Emmanuel, the operatives moved to guest houses and the presidential lodge, said to be currently in use by ex-Governor Godswill Akpabio.
It was in one of the guest houses within the expansive complex, the source said, that the dollars were found locked up in a room.
The SSS could not be immediately reached to officially comment on the operation. The agency does not have a known spokesperson that could be reached for comments.
And its Director General, Lawal Daura, did not answer or return multiple calls to his telephone.
The raid has attracted harsh reactions from the leadership of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
The Acting Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus, while hosting Bayelsa State governor, Seriake Dickson, in his office Friday, described the raid as a civilian coup d’état.
Mr. Secondus said the action is part of the strategy of the ruling All Progressives Congress, and the Muhammadu Buhari-led government to forcefully take some states won by the opposition PDP.