A prior presidential panel, which investigated the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, indicted him, a report has alleged.
The report noted that the embattled EFCC boss had been unable to account for the interest generated from N550bn cash recovered from 2015 to 2020.
The panel is separate from the panel led by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, which is currently probing Magu and other top officials of the agency.
The chairman of the previous committee was Alhaji Abdullahi Ibrahim and the members were DIG Anthony Ogbizi; a member from Federal Ministry of Justice; Mualledi Dogondaji from the EFCC; Hassan Abdullahi from the DSS; an unnamed member from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation; Chinedu Ifediora from the NFIU, while Mr Kazeem Attitebi served as the secretary.
The committee’s report, it was learnt, became the basis for the setting up of the Salami-led panel.
The report titled, ‘Final Report of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the EFCC Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020’ was obtained by the government-owned News Agency of Nigeria.
The report read in part, “Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgements clearly establishes that the interest element of over N550bn has been re-looted relating to the period under review.
“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts.”
The panel said it was quite disturbing that conflicting figures were being circulated in the public space by the EFCC as the amount of recovered funds.
It said these inconsistencies cast serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC.
The committee said it was of the view that the EFCC could not be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it, noting that there were discrepancies between what the embattled chairman reported and the lodgements the commission made.
It added, “It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than N31bn does not include interest accrued in this account since it was opened.
“It therefore cast serious doubt on the credibility of the figures and means that substantial amount of money has not been accurately accounted for.”
Newsmen observed that the report had also confirmed the concerns of the public about contradictory recovery figures emanating from Magu.
The Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.
The report added, “The NFIU reports established that the acting chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC.
“The report has shown that a particular Bureau de Change, owned by Ahmed Shanono linked to the acting chairman based in Kaduna, has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of funds.”
The committee accused Magu of paying a prominent Lagos-based senior advocate N28m.
The panel accused the suspended EFCC boss of using one Pastor Omale to launder funds abroad.
Omale’s name was uncovered through an investigative report on EFCC’s activities by the NFIU.
According to the report, the unknown clergyman is alleged to have bought a property on behalf of Magu worth N573m in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“As an unknown pastor, the NFIU’s report showed the huge movement of funds ranging from N573,228,040.41,” the report said.
Newsmen also gathered that efforts had been intensified to expose the real identity of the pastor with a view to arraigning him for prosecution, if found culpable.
Meanwhile, efforts to reach the said pastor to get his reaction were not successful. Several calls made to his mobile phone were not answered while the text message sent to him had yet to be replied as of 12:52am.
The committee accused the suspended EFCC boss of mishandling the probe of a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
The suspended EFCC boss was accused of failing to cooperate with authorities in the United Kingdom to facilitate effective prosecution of the case.
The report read in part, “In the Diezani Alison-Madueke case, the acting chairman is failing to further cooperate with the UK NCA (National Crime Agency) to enable them to charge the former minister to court in the UK.
“The acting chairman, despite his knowledge that Mrs Alison-Madueke will not be extradited to Nigeria until after her trial in the UK, has consistently been accusing the UK government on the pages of print and electronic media of not wanting to extradite her to Nigeria.”
Magu was also accused of deliberately refusing to provide documentary evidence that would make the office of the Attorney-General to commence the extradition process of Diezani Madueke.
“This has strained the EFCC’s relationship with Europe, our most strategic partner,’’ the report further observed.
Newsmen reported that Magu, who is being held at the Police headquarters, Abuja, is expected to reappear before the Salami probe panel on Monday to defend himself against several allegations.
The Presidency on Saturday said those who held the belief that the ongoing investigation of the suspended the EFCC acting chairman was an indication of the regime’s failing anti-corruption fight had missed the point.
It said rather, the development was further proof that the fight was real and active.
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, in a statement, titled ‘Presidency’s statement on the suspension of Mr Ibrahim Magu’, said this was the first time the Presidency would react officially since Magu’s travails started on Monday when he was arrested and brought before the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel.
The statement added, “There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system.
“Under this President and government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.
“Mr Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.
“No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.”
Shehu explained that a series of documented allegations were made against Magu, noting that a preliminary review of the allegations levelled against him and several other members of his staff revealed that there were grounds for a detailed investigation to be conducted, hence, an investigative panel was constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.
Justifying Magu’s suspension, Shehu added, “As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the chief executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the chief executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.”
He said Magu’s suspension would allow the EFCC to continue its work without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head, noting that the EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual and as such could not be seen through the prism of any individual.
He added, “Mr Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.
“What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realise that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of accountability and the recognition of the rule of law.”
Counsel for Magu, Mr Tosin Ojaomo, on Saturday, expressed confidence that his client would be released from detention on Monday.
Ojaomo told newsmen that he had met Magu at the detention facility at the Force Criminal Investigation Department in Garki Area 10, in Abuja, and had a client-lawyer interview with him for about an hour on Saturday.
He had on Friday applied to the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, to release Magu on bail.
Ojaomo said, “Magu is not on trial. He has been appearing before the panel which is just a fact-finding panel. Our only concern is that he is in detention. We strongly believe that he will be released on Monday unfailingly.
“Our application for bail is receiving attention. Those celebrating that Magu is gone should be ready to face more crisis as long as they continue to partake in corruption.”
Ojaomo told newsmen on Saturday that Magu, whom he reportedly met in high spirits, denied Malami’s allegations during their client-lawyer interview session at the FCID facility on Saturday.
The lawyer added, “He told me the allegations are frivolous, vexatious and are all concocted to blackmail him and subject him to public ridicule and opprobrium, nothing more. I am more confident now. If a man is innocent, he will not be shaken. He is not bothered. He is waiting for his name to be cleared so he can fight the more. Magu is coming back. Magu has not done anything wrong.”
The lawyer said the allegations raised by the AGF had been responded to, adding that his client had not been allowed to be represented by a lawyer at the panel.
The Peoples Democratic Party on Saturday said Magu must answer for all his alleged infractions in order to restore public confidence in the anti-graft agency.
In a statement, titled ‘Fraud: Magu must answer for alleged violations, victimisation and stealing’ by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, the party called on the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, not to shield the embattled EFCC chairman but ensure that he answers for his alleged offences.
The opposition party described him as unfit to lead an agency like the EFCC and reducing it to a partisan organisation that engages in witch-hunt and thrives on violation of rules, abuse of investigation of processes, manipulation of court procedures and a vehicle to harass innocent Nigerians.
The statement added, “Magu should be made to provide answers to allegations in the public space that he was more interested in securing politically induced convictions rather than justice, for which he allegedly turned the EFCC into a terror house where innocent Nigerians are harassed with trumped-up charges and convicted on media trial even before being allowed to defend themselves in court.
“Nigerians can recall that under Magu the former National Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, Adams Oshiomhole, was bold to state that once a corrupt person joins the APC, all their sins are forgiven.
“There are also allegations of violation of rights, including allegedly making his victims give statements in custody without the services of their lawyers.”
While urging the judiciary to investigate the alleged connection between the indicted EFCC boss and certain judges handling EFCC cases, the PDP said Nigerians would expect the Federal Government to ensure Magu’s prosecution (if found guilty) and take decisive steps to restore the integrity of the EFCC by ensuring that his replacement is thoroughly screened to avoid the “ills and violations” experienced under the suspended acting chairman.
Meanwhile, Magu, through his lawyer, has asked the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Panel to investigate the alleged sale of recovered assets by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
Magu explained that the AGF, Abubakar Malami (SAN), had no constitutional authority to approve the auction of recovered assets which he said was the responsibility of the Minister of Finance.
Newsmen had in a report published on July 11 published two separate approvals granted to an auctioneer by the AGF to conduct an open bid for sale of crude oil and diesel as well as five vessels forfeited by illegal bunkering operators to the government.
But Magu, who spoke through his lawyer, Tosin Ojaomo of Ojaomo and Ojaomo chambers on Saturday, stressed that the justice minister had no power under section 174 of the 199 Constitution to dabble into assets management, adding that the law only empowers him to institute and undertake criminal proceedings.
He attributed his client’s travails to detractors who he said were not comfortable with the fact that he (Magu) was remitting money directly to the Federal Government coffers.
Asked if he was demanding the probe of the AGF for alleged involvement in the sale of recovered property, the lawyer stated, “Yes, I’m calling for that; I’m calling for a probe of the AGF. Ladidi Mohammed, head of assets recovery management in the office of the AGF should be brought to the panel to tell Nigerians how much they have managed in terms of assets.”
“On what grounds is the AGF appointing contractors to conduct open bid? You can see that there is a question mark on the company appointed to conduct the auction. There is one Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd, according to your report. There is a moral burden. The same person was tried by the EFCC, the same firm was now being picked to sell the assets recovered by the EFCC.”
Asked why the EFCC was involved in asset disposal without AGF’s approval as the supervising minister, the lawyer contended that the commission involved the statutory agencies such as the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit in its auction exercise.