Reports monitored on the Hausa Service of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) has confirmed speculations that the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has been suspended.
His suspension comes as those who should confirm from the Presidency have chosen to keep sealed lips. One of them told Everyday.ng on phone this afternoon he didn’t want to be involved in the Magu controversy.
At press time, there was no confirmation of the alleged suspension.
Everyday.ng reports that Magu was virtually dragged on Monday before a presidential panel headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salamy to answer questions bordering on his integrity and functions as EFCC boss.
His suspension comes as The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Professor Itse Sagay SAN, has disowned a statement backing embattled Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu; but questioning the integrity of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami, issued by another member of the Committee, Professor Femi Odekunle.
As far as Sagay is concerned Odekunle spoke for himself and not for the committee.
Said Sagay in his statement: “The attention of the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has been drawn to a statement circulating in the media space credited to one of its members Prof Femi Odekunle.
“The press release is the personal opinion of the member under whose name it was released and not that of the committee.
“If the committee consistent with its mandate has any view on the matter, it will be channelled to the President and not to the media.”
In his own statement which gained traction on Monday, Odekunle said: “This is a preliminary reaction of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) to the alleged ‘arrest’ of Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“Of course, the real information reaching us is that he was only invited to appear before a Panel set up not long ago concerning some alleged memo by Malami, Attorney General and Minister of justice, regarding some alleged malfeasance by Magu, along with nominations for his replacement.
“It was just that those sent to invite him for whatever reasons best known to them invited some press along and made it look an arrest.
“That mischief has been confirmed by some apparent afterthought denial by the DSS that it was not an arrest.
“While PACAC has not had a formal meeting on this development, I have discussed with the Chairman and some other members and the following can be considered as PACAC’s preliminary reaction to this development.
“The alleged originating Malami memo, up to the current “arrest” seems an outcome of power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power in which Malami appears to be an arrow-head or major agent of a power bloc that is not really interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
i. One can recall the earlier non-confirmation experience of Magu by the 8th Assembly, orchestrated by a power bloc and supported by the DSS ‘Security’ reports.
ii. One can also note the non-resubmission of Magu for confirmation since May, 2019 despite the apparent willingness of the 9th Assembly to consider it this time around.
iii. Furthermore, one must take cognisance of the alleged memo referred to earlier i.e by Malami concerning alleged corrupt practices by Magu, along with his own nominations for Magu’s replacement.
iv. Again, we cannot forget Malami’s demand of certain high profile case files from Magu which the latter has been resisting. The position of PACAC is that while Magu, or any official of whatever status, must be nailed if found to be corrupt, the President must be careful not to shoot its anti-corruption fight /modest achievements in the foot, and not to forget that EFCC under Magu has been the Administration’s anti-corruption poster-face.
“It may not be contestable that Malami has been exploiting his alleged loyalty and closeness to the President for his personal/power bloc agenda.
“For, to the best of PACAC’s knowledge and observations, Malami has not manifested any genuine commitment to the anti-corruption fight.
“Samplers: The nolle-prosequi entered in a case of corruption against Orubebe in relation to alleged malfeasance while Minister of Niger Delta Ministry; his secret meeting with fugitive Maina in Dubai under whatever guise/ excuse; his involvement in the surreptitious reinjection of the same Maina into the Civil Service; his supervision of Obono-Oblas’ kangaroo Asset Recovery outfit which Obono subsequently ran out of the country when exposed by some ICPC investigation; his non-due attention, by design or default, to the P&ID matter since 2015 until it was blown open by humongous financial damage to the country; etc.
“Notwithstanding the situation at hand, the hope of PACAC is that the President would wake up to the ongoing shenanigans of power players that are working from the inside against his anti-corruption fight.
“We are also counting on the experience and dexterity of the new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari whose loyalty to the President and good of the country cannot be doubted, and we also hope that the demonstrated integrity of retired Justice Salami would carry the day for thoroughness, fairness and justice in the interest of the anti-corruption fight.”
In a comprehensive report on Magu’s travail on Monday, The Nation newspaper reports that for hours on Monday, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu testified before a panel looking into allegations levelled against him by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Magu was detained last night after being quizzed by the panel.
He was whisked away from the Presidential Villa, where he was interrogated to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) at about 10.15pm shortly after the investigative panel ended its sitting.
His escort mobile policemen and security detail were stood down before he was taken into custody.
It was learnt that shortly after emerging from the sitting, Magu was led into a waiting white Hilux van marked 371D.
Magu insisted on sitting in the open space at the back of the Hilux.
The police team persuaded him to sit in the first cabin.
The ding-doing over his relocation to the FCID lasted about 25 minutes.
Magu was later allowed to go to the FCID in his official car.
A source said: “In the light of the ongoing investigation, it became expedient to detain Magu at the FCID. We do not want him to return to the office while he is being questioned, because he is likely to have another session with the Justice Salami panel.”
It was also learnt last night that Magu might be suspended from office.
“By not allowing him to go back to his office was an indication that he might be suspended.
“It is obvious that the Presidency has concluded plans to look for a new candidate for the office,” the source said.
At the FCID around 10.50pm, Magu rejected an offer to take him into an office to stay the night.
He told the officers in charge to treat him like a suspect by putting him in a cell.
Sitting on a chair, he said: “I won’t go and sleep in any office, I prefer to be in a cell. Kindly put me in a cell. That is what Allah wants for me. I can’t question God.”
There was drama to Magu’s invitation earlier in the day. He was intercepted on the road along Fomella Street while moving out of the Wuse II office Annex of the EFCC in Abuja.
Invitation was then extended to him by a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) from the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID).
The CSP’s vehicle had a backup comprising a three-man security team, who closely watched the encounter.
Magu was on his way to the Force Headquarters. He pleaded with the officer to allow him to honour the scheduled appointment.
But he was told the invitation by the panel was superior to his appointment.
At about 1.35pm, Magu arrived at the Villa.
The EFCC chairman, who went to the Villa with his full escort and security detail, was not arrested or molested.
While the session lasted, Magu had unfettered access to his mobile phones.
The panel was also polite as he was allowed to pray and given a free lunch.
A source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The CSP was polite. He even allowed Magu to speak with an officer in the FCID to ensure that the invitation was genuine.
“Instead of going to the Force Headquarters, Magu called his lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, and headed for the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.”
The travails of the EFCC chairman started on Sunday night when a source, suspected to be a former EFCC official, posted on Facebook that “next week, Monday-Friday are black days to (sic) Mr. EFCC.”
The facebook post confirmed intelligence at Magu’s disposal that he might be arrested or prosecuted.
Another source added: “With the post on Facebook, Magu already had a mindset that yesterday might be rough.
“And true to his prediction, he got the invitation to appear before the panel.”
Investigation by our correspondent revealed some of the allegations against Magu by Malami.
Some of the 22 allegations are as follows:
Alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds
Declaration of N539billion as recovered funds instead of N504b earlier claimed
Insubordination to the office of the AGF by not seeking his approval on some decisions
Not providing enough evidence for the extradition of ex-Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke
Alleged late action on the investigation of Process and Industrial Development (P&ID) leading to legal dispute
Not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7billion judgment in favour of a former Executive Director of First Bank
Alleged delay in acting on two vessels seized by Nigerian Navy leading to the loss of crude
Alleged favouring of some investigators called Magu’s Boys
Reporting some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF
Alleged sales of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends
Alleged issuance of investigative activities to some media prejudicial to some cases.
A top source said: “Magu and his officers had spent the last two weeks looking at all the allegations and compiled appropriate responses to them with documents.
“It is the compendium of evidence that he took to the panel to prove his innocence. Whatever you may accuse Magu of, it is not corruption or self-enrichment.
“All those who have worked with Magu know him for his incorruptibility. He is also a hardliner who stepped on many toes. It is good that a panel is looking into the allegations.
“Take the case of sales of assets, Magu never sold any assets since he came into office. Instead, the seized properties were allocated for use by government agencies.
“The P&ID matter preceded Magu in office because the judgment debt was during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Magu only investigated the criminal aspect instead of supporting Settlement Agreement. And he gave the case all his strength to get the best for the nation.
“At the appropriate time, the details of what Magu did in office and what really transpired before the panel will be known to Nigerians for posterity.”
The Department of State Services (DSS) denied arresting the EFCC boss.
The Public Relations Officer of DSS, Dr. Peter Afunanya said: “The Department of State Services (DSS) wishes to inform the public that it did not arrest Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as has been reported by sections of the media.
“The Service has since 6th July, 2020, been inundated with enquiries over the alleged arrest.”
The EFCC confirmed that Magu went to the Villa to honour an invitation.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Dele Oyewale said: “Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Mr. Ibrahim Magu on Monday honoured an invitation by a Presidential Panel reviewing the activities of the EFCC, at the Banquet Hall wing of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
”He was served the invitation to the Panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting.
”The EFCC’s boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation. A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him on the Panel.”
▪︎ Everyday.ng with additional reports by The Nation