By Stephen Ubanna And Emmanuel Ufot
When Femi Adesina , a Senior Special Assistant to the President, on Media and Publicity , appeared on Channels Television, on Tuesday, July 14, 2020, and declared that Ibrahim Magu , now being investigated by Justice Ayo Salami, a former President of the Appeal Court at the instance of the Presidency is not yet being tried, many knew that that it was a a soft landing for him to walk out of the police detention a free man.
True to their believe, the former EFCC, acting Chairman was released from police Custody on Wednesday, July 15, 2020. Prior to his release, there had been pressures on Mohammed Adamu , the Inspector General of Police from several quarters both within and outside the country to release him on bail because of his good works in the Commission. Oluwatosin Ojaomo, his Lawyer , started pushing for his release bail on self-recognition by the police after he had spent four days in their custody.
The pressure was so much that Adamu, the IGP, was said to have asked the detained Magu ‘’to direct his application for bail to the Presidential panel and not the police. The Value News cited the letter of the IGP , to Magu’s Layer which reads in part: the Inspector General of police directs that your attention be drawn to the fact that the Nigerian Police is not investigating Magu, a Commissioner of Police and he is accordingly not being detained by the police but the Presidential panel that is investigating the activities of the EFCC.
The IGP, therefore advises, that you consider directing your request to the Chairman of the Presidential probe panel for appropriate attention.The Lawyer may have heeded to the IGP, instruction as the former EFCC boss was invited by the panel in the Presidential Villa on Monday , July 6, 2020.
Note that the embattled former ECC, acting Chairman, has been in detention at the instance of the Presidential Panel probing the activities of the Commission over the last five years for about 10 days. The former EFCC, strong man problem was said to have started when Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice, petitioned the Presidency alleging monumental fraud in the Management of the affairs of the Commission ,diversion of the recovered loot and property by Magu using cronies.
According to excerpts of the Panel report which are already in public domain, the panel was said to have found that Magu sold some recovered assets to his friends, close allies and some officials of the Commission ,who bought the assets at give away prices.The panel report shows that the former anti-graft agency boss unilaterally did most of the auction without the knowledge of Malami, the minister of Justice and the supervising minister.
The Assets were said to have been sold without’’ any records of sales ‘’ or informing ‘’the appropriate Authorities and without due regards to the Rule of Law and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation’’.
The interim report of the Justice Salami Presidential Panel may have made it clear to those that cares to listen that Magu, has a case to answer over unaccounted N550 billion recovered funds from looters. The Panel has said that the former anti-graft agency helmsman failed to make a report of the actual lodgment of the said amount, an act which clearly established the fact that the interest elements of the sum may have been diverted during the period under review.
During the Investigation, the Panel was said to have realised that the embattled suspended EFCC acting Chairman did not account for the missing properties out of the total 836 as at March 2018 and the interest supposedly generated from the N550 billion recovered funds from 2015 when he assumed office till July. The Panel report shows a clear case of misappropriation of funds.
Beyond this , more facts are still emerging on the Magu alleged fraud saga. He was alleged to have used one Emmanuel Omalewe, a Clergy man, founder of an Abuja, Federal Capital Territory, FCT, based Pentecostal Church, Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry, to launder money abroad.
Part of the proceeds of the illicit deal as discovered by the Panel was what the said Pastor used as a front had used to buy landed property worth n573 million in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, UAE for him. Still on his handling of recovered looted funds, a Lagoss based popular and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, SAN, , Femi Falana, was said to have in one instance been given N28 million .
The disclosure was carried in The Nation’s Newspaper. But the erudite Lawyer has denied collecting any such money , and has threatened legal action if the media did not retract the story and allegations.
Even Yemi Osinbajo, a Professor and the country’s Vice President has not been spared the smear of Magu-gate as people are already tagging it. Magu was said to have given the Vice n4 billion. An aggrieved Osinbajo has refuted it and asked the IGP, to investigate the damning allegation leveled against him through an online Media.
Osinbajo and Falana may have been saved the troubles of all the allegations as as Magu, who has just regained hs freedom has written to the Panel investigating the allegations of mismanagement of the EFCC, over what he described as publications prejudicial to the proceedings of the Panel.
In the letter that was said to have been addressed to Justice Salami, Chairman of the Probe Panel, Wahab Shittu, one of Magu’s Lawyers had referred to the claims that the former EFCC, boss paid N4 billion to the Osnbajo the Vice President and another N28 million to Falana, SAN. The suspended EFCC acting Chairman has said that the allegations were false and an attempt to tarnish their har-earned image by the Lawyer.He was said to have also denied any link with a Kaduna based Bureau De Change Operator as alleged.
But those who knew Magu , say he is not likely to give up without fighting back. His target, according to a source, is Malami, the minister of Justice ,whose allegations and that of Yusuf Birchi, Director General, Department of State Security, DSS, numbering 24,, has turned Magu from the hunter being hunted.
He was said to have told the Justice Salami Panel to probe the AGF over the sale of some recovered Assets. He had alleged that the AGF, granted two separate approvals to an auctioneer to conduct an open bid for sale of Crude oil and diesel as well as five vessels forfeited by an illegal Bunkering Syndicate to the government.
The former EFCC acting Chairman was said to have told the Panel that Malami does not have the Constitutional powers to give such approvals for the auction sales of recovered Assets, stressing that such responsibilities and powers resides with the minister of Finance.
Even as the can of worms continues to spill out the issue has generated lot of discourse in many fora. To many Nigerians , even as they doubted the sincerity of Magu anti-Corruption war which was clearly lopsided taken only to the Opposition Camp, the fraud discovery against the anti-graft Czar in the eyes of Nigerians has made nonsense of President Muhammadu Buhari acclaimed anti-Corruption fight.
In fact, to many what is playing out has vindicated those who had repeatedly said that the mouthed Cooruption war of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, government was just a smokescreen, that based on Transparency International Report last year, , Corruption was more pronounced in this government than the previous one as many Nigerians were made to believe.
But some analysts had blamed the Kasina state born Nigerian President for the mess by insisting that Magu that must stay in office in office, even when the DSS report had indicted him as not being suitable to lead the agency which informed why the Bukola Saraki, led 8th Senate refusing to confirm his appointment twice.
Femi Fani-Kayode, one of those who have rough time with Magu in his apparent vendetta anti-Corruption approach, had alleged that Magu never work for Buhari b but Osinbajo and Ahmed Bola Tinubu, a former governor of Lagos state and the APC National leader. He claimed that the duo were Magu godfather and the target is them.
For now relations are still continuing and the Opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, had insisted that Magu should be prosecuted. However pending the Completion of his investigation by the probe panel and the outcome,, sources within the Presidency indicates that many heads are going o roll in EFCC as there may be a major shake up in the Organisation.