By Emmanuel Ufot
This is certainly not the best times for Ibrahim Magu, the age-long acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He is currently swimming in murky waters of allegation bothering on monumental fraud, which has led to his suspension from office by the President in addition to his detention for over three days by security operatives to answer for his sins.
Magu’s appointment with fate which has become public knowledge began early last week when allegations of fraud amounting to billions both in foreign currencies, gold wrist watches and houses in Dubai among others. Part of the legion of fraudulent practices levelled against Magu include, discrepancies in the figures of looted funds recovered by EFCC, disposing of assets including buildings seized from politicians without approval or knowledge of the Attorney General office which is the supervising ministry, insurbodination and living above his means.
For the past three months, there has been no love lost between the embattled acting EFCC and the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF Abubakar Malami. The grouse inside sources revealed in most cases has been centred around arbitrary decisions and actions taken by the ousted EFCC boss without recourse to intimating the Minister of Justice being the supervisory Ministry, this issue has led to frequent flexing of muscle by the duo which in most cases had come to public knowledge before the current one that seems to have finally made Malami emerged the victor.
We gathered that no fewer than 24 allegations bothering on abuse of power, conversion of looted funds and properties to himself have been levelled against him with most of them coming from the office of the AGF in addition to ones from The Department of State Security, DSS years back which stood as a stumbling block to his confirmation by the immediate past eight Senate led by Senator Olusola Saraki.
Although the bubble has been bursting and the clouds thickening around Magu in recent times with the Presidency maintaining silence, but it came to the open a week ago after abortive attempts by insiders in the Presidency that were sympathetic to him given his perceived closeness to the President who believe, he was doing a good work in the fight against corruption.
After a lot of inside rumblings and glaring projection of the many sins of Magu masterminded by Malami which is said to have alarmed President Muhammadu Buhari and his close aides that hitherto looked at Magu as a Saint, the President finally carved under pressure to set up a panel to probe the damning allegations against him. This was followed by his suspension and detention for questioning.
Magu’s suspension was contained in a memo from the office of the AGF which directed Mohammed Umar, director of operations, EFCC to step in as acting chairman.
So last Monday July 6, 2020, he was dragged before a Presidential Probe Panel headed by former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Isa Ayo Salami rtd. In the midst of his probe by the panel, his predicament deepened for as he was invited by the police and detention at the Forced CID even as at the time of writing this report, he is yet to be left off the hook, even as the probe is being expanded with the Secretary of EFCC and other top notchers of the anti-graft agency that were working closely with Magu are also being currently questioned. Inside sources revealed that, the allegations against Magu are so grave that the Presidential Panel has decided to probe into all the recoveries by the agency in the past five years that the embattled suspended EFCC helmsman has been in the driver’s seat of the agency.
Yesterday Thursday, July 9 Magu was said to have been whisked to Aso Villa for further questioning in furtherance of the ongoing investigation. The Magu fraud saga is already rubbing off negatively with the person of Vice President Yemi Osibanjo as his name has been linked to the fraud. An online Publication not The Value News has reported that Magu in one of illicit deals allegedly gave the Vice President, N4 billion. The allegation has generated a lot ripples within the Presidency and concern within the office of the Vice President. He has written to the Inspector General of Police to investigate the weighty allegation from the online media which he described as false and malicious.
The opposition Peoples Democratic Party, PDP and many critics of the president like Dino Melaye, Femi Fani Kayode, former Aviation Minister and Mike Ozekhome SAN who had overtime severally accused the EFCC boss of being used as a weapon to hound opposition believes that his sins has caught up with him and they are agitating for his immediate prosecution, not the usual soft landing which thy fear might be given to the embattled former EFCC boss.
Apart from those in the opposition camp, who frowned at the way Magu was hounding the opposition and allegedly shielding those from the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC also accused of corruption, he was not in terms with some top government officials and APC chieftains. It is not a secret that apart from Malami, the director general of DSS was not also in friendly terms with him. Their differences many believe was not unconnected with the negative dossier the state security have on him which they had earlier petition the last senate twice. So while DSS boss believe he does not fit the position because of his hidden corrupt background, Magu is angered by the DSS report, and in most cases inside sources revealed he does not owe any regard to the State Security boss.
Since the creation of EFCC with Magu being the fourth Chairman, there is no doubt that he has been the most controversial. Many analysts had at many fora question the way he was not forthcoming in investigating corruption allegations against people close to the president and chieftains of the ruling party or connected to the powers that be, inspite of how glaring and serious they were.
Some instances included the fraud allegation against the former Secretary to the Government Babachir Lawal over grass cutting contract running into millions of Naira which EFCC refused to heed the prompting of concern Nigerians to investigate the matter until persistent loud outcry by Nigerians led to his being relieved of his position and charge to court. But till date nothing has been heard again of the case. Another is allegations against the APC leader Bola Tinubu ( The Alpha Beta issue and the bullion van allegedly stuff with money on election day), the Chief of Army Staff, Lt General Tukur Buratai choice properties in Dubai, the Pension fund saga among others.
Other cases worthy of mention include, those of former minister of Finance Adeosun and her counterpart in the Communication Ministry all bothering on forgery in respect of NYSC participation, but they were given soft landing. While the former quietly left without any raise of eye brow the president, the later who said he never knew he had to serve in NYSC only resigned to contest election in his state but did not scale through the screening.
Similarly, Magu is said to have stepped on some ‘big toes’. He is said to have once blocked the cheque of General Theophilus Danjuma for investigation as well as allegedly investigating former Military Head of State General Abdusallami Abubakar over suspicion of money laundering. Similarly the way he went about the investigation of the Patience Goodluck Jonathan, wife of former president Jonathan, Olusola Saraki, former Senate President and Diezenni Madueke, former minister of Petroleum was viewed as a vendetta mission.
Infact this his perceived partial execution of the corruption war diminished in the eyes of many Nigerians whatever success he may have recorded to tackle the endemic corruption in Nigeria as portrayed by the administration in the past five years of this appointment. This many reasoned has not only informed the reason why he holds the record of holding such position in acting capacity for so many years, but drew hatred from many who severally called for his sack.
But the President Buhari may not have seen in Magu what Nigerians are talking against him and clung to him, keeping him perpetually in acting capacity contrary to the Section 3 of the EFCC Act that stipulates a four year tenure of EFCC chairman subject to subsequent reappointment. That is what many Nigerians perceived, may have entered his head and he in most cases abuse power in carrying out his statutory function.
The thinking of many Nigerians as findings show is that President Buhari had kept Magu in power inspite of his atrocities, to use him to hunt the opposition PDP members and those with dissenting voices to eclipse them to have a smooth ride to second time which he achieved.
With the fate of Magu now hanging in the balance with no hope of returning back to the seat, analysts and close watchers are wondering aloud what is really in that position which always make them leave the position in inglorious way.
Since its establishment it has had four Chairmen namely, Nuhu Ribadu (2003-2007), Mrs Farida Waziri (May 2008-November 2011), Ibrahim Lamorde (November 23, 2011- November 9, 2015 and Ibrahim Magu (2015-till his suspension July 7, 2020).
However like most analysts have pointed out, like a recurring decimal, the exit of each of them like the current one (Magu) has always been immersed in controversies bothering on abuse of power, their merit to justify appointment and corruption practices.
Like Magu, Ribadu was accused of abuse of power and high handed which even withnessed him manhandling a former Inspector General of Police Tafa Balogun who was accused of corruption. This behavior angered the police former who saw as desecration of the position of an IGP by Ribadu an Assistant Commissioner of Police just to satisfy the then president Obasanjo and make a case that he was doing a good job. Apart from his mode of media trial of suspected corrupt politicians, one to recalled being his standing on the floor of the National Assembly to say 90 percent of the then governors were corrupt, he was also accused of hum right abuse of suspects in EFCC custody. For instance, it was one of those his abuse of power that saw him musling few members of House of Assembly to impeach Joshua Dariye, former governor of Plateau state and Diepreye Alamieyesiegha of Bayelsa state to pave the way for their prosecution. He is also said to have been used by President Obasanjo to force other PDP Presidential aspirants out of the way for late Umaru Yar’Adua to emerge at the party primaries.
Ribadu had an inglorious exit as he was unceremoniously removed from office and demoted from his accelerated rank of Assistant Inspector general to his appropriate rank of Commissioner of Police.
For Waziri, who no doubt carried out her work with outmost professionalism devoid of abuse of power like his predecessor, he fell out with then Attorney General and Minister of Justice Mohammed Bello Adoke over matters relating to prosecution of cases by the commission before she was ousted by President Jonathan.
In the case of Lamorde whose tenure was barely two years, he was accused of failing to remit more than N2.05 trillion being funds recovered from corrupt politically exposed persons and diversion of another one trillion being proceeds from sales of confiscated properties from corrupt people. The allegations were contained in a petition to the Senate by one George Uboh.
So now like a jinx, Magu is following the same inglorious destiny, and the fact that he will not come back with clean bill of health to the position is a fait accompli, but the issue in the minds of people is whether if found guilty of the allegations, government will have that will to prosecute him.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission was established in 2003 by former President Olusegun Obasanjo with mandate to combat financial and economic crimes and also to prevent, investigate, prosecute and penalise economic and financial crimes. The commission is also charged with the responsibility of enforcing the provisions of other laws and regulations relating to economic and financial crimes, including: Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act (2004), The Money Laundering Act 1995, The Money Laundering (Prohibition) Act 2004, The Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act 1995, The Failed Banks (Recovery of Debts) and Financial Malpractices in Banks Act 1994, The Banks and other Financial Institutions Act 1991; and Miscellaneous Offences Act.
EFCC board comprise of, the Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria; a representative each of the Federal Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Finance and Justice; Chairman, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency; Director General, National Intelligence Agency; Director General, Department of State Services; Registrar General, Corporate Affairs Commission; Director General, Securities and Exchange Commission; Managing Director, Nigeria Deposit Insurance Corporation; Commissioner for Insurance; Postmaster General of the Nigerian Postal Services; Chairman, Nigerian Communications Commission; Comptroller General, Nigeria Customs Services; Comptroller General, Nigeria Immigration Services; Inspector General of Police; four eminent Nigerians with cognate experience in any of the following areas of human endeavours, finance, banking or accounting; and the Secretary to the Commission. he allegations against Magu, his defence On July 8, 20208:28 amIn News Kindly Share This Story: Facebook Twitter Email WhatsApp Pinterest Share The allegations against Magu, his defence Suspended EFCC Boss, Ibrahim Magu Allegations against the suspended Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and Magu’s defence to the said offences are highlighted below: *Alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds. *Declaration of N539 billion as recovered funds, instead of N504 billion earlier claimed; *Insubordination to the Office of the AGF; *Alleged late action on the investigation of P&ID, leading to legal dispute; *Not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7 billion judgement in favour of a former executive director of a bank; *Not providing enough evidence for the extradition of Diezani Alison-Madueke; *Alleged delay in acting on two vessels seized by the Navy; *Alleged favouring of some investigators called Magu Boys; *Reporting some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF; *Alleged sale of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends; *Alleged issuance of investigative activities to some media prejudicial to some cases. Also, previously, former DSS D-G, Lawal Daura, had levelled some allegations against Magu in December 2016. The allegations bordered on: *Missing EFCC Files; *Return to EFCC under Lamorde; *Tenancy of My Official Residence; *Expensive air travels. *High profile/dual lifestyle; *Mutually Beneficial Relationship with Commodore Mohammed Umar (rtd); *Perceived reluctance to arraign Vice Marshall Adesola Amosun; *Alleged vendetta against Stanley Lawson; and *Work through police cronies in EFCC. ALSO READ: EFCC’s Magu, DSS in arrest, interrogation drama Magu’s response to allegations Responding to the allegations in a letter addressed to the AGF, dated December 21, 2016, Magu, had written: “I most respectfully refer to your letter referenced HAGF/EFCC/2016/Vol.1/23 dated 19th December, 2016, asking me to respond within 48 hours to the allegations contained in a report written by the Department of State Service, DSS, and which provided the basis for the non-consideration of my confirmation on December 15, 2016, by the Senate. “Having carefully considered all the issues, I hereby present a point-by-point response as follows: Missing EFCC files “It is true that my residence was searched on the orders of Mrs. Farida Waziri, shortly after she succeeded Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as Chairman of the EFCC and some documents relating to cases under investigation were found in my house. At the time of the raid, I was yet to formally hand over to my successor, Umar Sanda, as head of the Economic Governance Unit. “My schedule at the time warranted that I work round the clock and it was impossible to conclude all assignments without working at home. The documents found in my house were actually found in my office bag where I kept documents relating to investigations. “I was in the process of handing over and it would be wrong to suggest that I willfully kept the Commission’s files at home. Nevertheless, the incident was thoroughly investigated by the Police as I was placed on suspension without pay for 20 months. But in the end, I was reprimanded, recalled and promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Police. “It is important sir, to draw your attention to the fact that some of us that worked closely with Ribadu were victimized after his exit. And my ordeal was orchestrated as punishment for being the chief investigative officer for most of the high-profile cases involving politically exposed persons, some of whom became very influential in government at the time. Return to EFCC under Lamorde “I was Assistant Commissioner of Police in Charge of Operations at the Anambra State Police Command when I was recalled to the EFCC in 2012. “I did not lobby to return to the EFCC. It is preposterous for anyone to suggest that I was recalled to do a hatchet job for Lamorde, as alleged in the DSS Report. My job schedule as Deputy Director, Department of Internal Affairs, under Lamorde, was simply handling issues of professional responsibility in the commission. I had no inputs in core operations, duties of the commission. Tenancy of official residence “I live in the official residence of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. This accommodation, contrary to the report of the DSS, is not my private home, neither was it rented and furnished for me by Commodore Umar Mohammed (rtd). “It was rented and furnished by the Ministry of the Federal Capital Territory through the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, under the Safe House Scheme. “It is also false that the house was rented for N20million per annum and furnished for N43million. The entire cost for both two-year rent and the furnishing of the house is N39.628million. Details of the transaction are contained in the contract award letter and payment schedule which are attached to this letter. Expensive air travels “Honourable Minister, the claim that I have a penchant for expensive air travels in a private jet belonging to Commodore Mohammed is baseless “The two times I can recall travelling in Commodore Umar’s aircraft, were on a trip from Kano to Abuja, and Abuja to Maiduguri. In the first instance, I had gone to Kano on an official assignment with two of my directors, and Mohammed who was on his way back to Abuja offered us a ride in his jet. “The second occasion was when I was going to see my sick mother in Maiduguri. These, for me, were harmless gestures as we were both members of the presidential investigative committee on arms procurement. “At the time I had no knowledge that he was under investigation for any alleged crimes. Claims that I flew in Mohammed’s jet is false. “I have never flown in a private aircraft with any managing director of any bank, let alone one that was under investigation by my agency. I have no personal relationship whatsoever with him. High profile/dual lifestyle “The allegation that I live a flamboyant lifestyle is also surprising to me. While it is true that I did travel first class on Emirates Airline to Saudi Arabia for Umrah, this action to the best of my knowledge, did not contravene the directive of Mr. President on First Class travels as suggested by the DSS Report. “My trip to Saudi Arabia was a private journey to perform my religious obligation and it was not financed with public funds. More importantly, my decision to fly first class was not borne out of quest for luxury but compelled by necessity. “The trip was made during the last ten days of Ramadan and other classes of ticket were not available. I had no other choice. That I flew first class in one instance is not enough evidence to suggest an extravagant lifestyle as alleged by the DSS Report. It is also not enough to suggest a dual personality. “Any one that has associated closely with me will attest to the fact that I am not known for ostentatious living.
And my new office as acting chairman of the EFCC has not changed this. Mutually beneficial relationship with Commodore Mohammed Umar ,Rtd, “Sir, it is important to situate my relationship with Commodore Mohammed Umar (rtd), in proper perspective. Our paths crossed when we became members of the Presidential Committee on the investigation on arms procurement.
“He was instrumental in getting some of the information that helped the committee make significant breakthroughs in its assignment. Beyond that, the relationship between Umar and myself is one of professional acquaintance, devoid of issues of conflict of interest. “So, it comes to me with shock, the imputation by the DSS that we have a “mutually beneficial relationship”. This appears suggestive that Mohammed and I were involved in activities that could be said to be untoward. I certainly have no knowledge of such activities. “The claim that EFCC documents, including EFCC letters addressed to the Vice President and being investigation reports on the activities of Emmanuel Kachikwu and his brother Dumebi Kachikwu, were found in his home during a search by the DSS came to me as a surprise. “If that is correct, he should be made to disclose how he came by such documents. I never discussed my official duties with him let alone give him documents pertaining to investigations being conducted by the commission. “Interestingly, Mohammed was detained for several months by the DSS. In all those months, did he claim that I mandated him to commit any crime or that I was an accomplice to any crime? If there is any such claim, I will wholeheartedly like to be confronted with the allegation. “It is interesting to note that when Mohammed was eventually charged to court, the charges against him were money laundering and illegal possession of firearms, and nothing related to my purported “shady” relationship with him. Perceived reluctance to arraign Vice-Marshall Adesola Amosun “The DSS Report that the reason EFCC delayed the arraignment of a former Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice Marshall Adesola Amosun, was because Mohammed never wanted Amosun to be prosecuted is astonishing. Anyone familiar with the EFCC under my watch knows that I perform my duties with the highest sense of responsibility. “The reason Amosun was not arraigned when the likes of Alex Badeh and Umar were arraigned was because he cooperated with the Commission in terms of assisting the process of recovering the proceeds of crime. “Indeed, among the suspects arrested over the arms procurement scandal, he was most cooperative.
The Commission recovered N2.835billion cash from him, aside from property worth One Billion Five Hundred and Eighty One Million Naira (N1,581,000,000), Two Million One Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars ($2,150,000) and One Million Pounds Sterling (£1,000,000). “Since a key focus of the investigation was to recover as much proceeds of crime as possible, the Commission took its time to ensure it had recovered what was possible before arraigning the suspect in court. This had nothing to do with the wish of any individual. Moreover, the suspect has since been arraigned before a court of competent jurisdiction. Alleged vendetta against Stanley Lawson “The suggestion by the DSS Report that Stanley Lawson, a former Group Executive Director of the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) was placed on a watch list, to settle scores with him is strange. “It may interest you to know that I do not know Stanley Lawson personally and could not be settling personal scores by framing somebody that I do not know. “Lawson’s encounter with the EFCC is in relation to the investigation into the mismanagement of $118 million public funds for electioneering campaign involving former Petroleum Resources Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. “It was discovered that he made payment of $25million into a Bank and also facilitated the purchase of Ogeyi Place Le Meridien Hotel in Port Harcourt for Mrs. Alison Madueke, for which he collected Ninety Four Million Five Hundred and Sixteen Thousand Naira (N94,516,000) as commission. Lawson was arrested and he made a refund of the N94.5million traced to him. He was never placed on any watch list. Work through Police cronies in EFCC “I do not understand what the report meant by working with cronies. If what was implied is that I have preferred officers that I work with and who go about their work in unethical manner, my response is that nothing of such exists in the EFCC. “Officers who work with me know that the easiest way to lose your job is to be found to be involved in unethical or corrupt activities.
Indeed, when I assumed office as acting chairman, my first action was to return police officers with integrity issues back to the Nigeria Police Force. “If the DSS finds that there are police officers in the EFCC who are working closely with me and have properties that their incomes cannot support, the Service is at liberty to expose them. Conclusion “Honourable Minister, Sir, I invite you to take notice of the fact that the DSS authored two separate vetting reports on me, one referenced SV.114/3 addressed to the Clerk of the National Assembly and the other referenced SV.114/3 addressed to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate). “Both letters were dated 3rd October, 2016, and signed by the same Officer, Folashade Bello, on behalf of the Director-General. While one of the reports advised the Senate against my confirmation, the other asked it to favourably consider my confirmation.
The two reports emanating from the same agency raise questions of sincerity and motive. “You will want to find out why they came up with two conflicting reports on the same subject on the same day. It is important to note that in all this, I was not given the opportunity of fair hearing. “Above all sir, I am persuaded by my conviction in my innocence that in all the issues supposedly raised against me, no one has accused me of receiving gratification to act against my conscience or the interest of the country. “I have attached to this letter all supporting documents and materials that would enable you arrive at fair position on all the issues raised.”