The Presidency on Saturday revealed why the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, was being investigated.
A presidential media aide, Garba Shehu, in an official statement issued on the suspension of Magu, said a series of documented allegations were made against him.
He said an investigative panel was therefore constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.
“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.
“The EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.
“Therefore, the suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.
“The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.”
Garba, who said Magu was being given an opportunity to defend himself, added that those insinuating that his probe signified the failure of the anti-corruption war had missed the point.
“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.
“We must realize that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.
“What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize 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.
“Those who see Mr. Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat.
“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.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had on Friday approved the suspension of Magu as acting Chairman of the EFCC and appointed the agency’s Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, to take charge and oversee the activities of the Commission pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation by Justice Salami-led panel.
The Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) made the announcement on Friday. According to a statement by the media aide to the AGF, Dr Umar Gwandu, the approval is “in order to allow for unhindered inquiry by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.”
The statement also added that President Buhari approved that Umar should take charge and oversee the activities of the Commission pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regards.
President Buhari constituted the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel to probe various allegations leveled against Magu following petitions by Malami. ‘How interests on N550bn loot recovered by Magu got re-looted’ There are indications that Magu, maybe facing fresh cases of alleged re-looting of funds recovered by the commission as well as bribery.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the Final Report of Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) that covered the period of May 29, 2015, to Nov. 22, 2018, had also confirmed the concerns of the public about contradictory recovery figures emanating from Magu.
“It is quite disturbing that conflicting figures are being circulated in the public space by EFCC as the amount of recovered funds “For Foreign currency recoveries, EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency, lodgements were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.
“These inconsistencies cast serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it. “While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgements were N543,511,792,863.47.
These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgement exceeded its reported recoveries by N39,357,608,119.43. “It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than thirty-nine billion naira 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.
“Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgments clearly establishes that interest element of over N550 billion 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 report stated in part.
NAN also reports that the PCARA revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.
“The NFIU reports established that the acting Chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases collecting bribes from suspects. EFCC turned into house of corruption, witch-hunt – PDP The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) said the Presidency must not cover for the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
The party said Magu was “not only unfit to lead the agency and had also reduced the anti-corruption agency to a house of corruption and a partisan witch-hunt organization that thrives in violation of rules, abuse of investigation processes, manipulation of court procedures as well as a vehicle to harass and extort money from innocent Nigerians.”
The party said the Presidency should rather ensure that Magu answered for all the allegations against him.
The PDP in a statement Saturday, by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, reiterated that the federal government should prosecute Magu and take decisive steps to restore the integrity of the EFCC by thoroughly screening his successor in order to achieve optimum results.
The PDP also urged an investigation into the alleged connection between the indicted EFCC boss and certain judges handling EFCC cases, while calling on the judiciary to sanitize the courts.
“The PDP states that 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.
“There are also allegations of violation of rights, including allegedly making his victims to make statements in custody without the services of their lawyers. This is in addition to insinuations in the public that the indicted EFCC boss was also harassing certain judges to get conviction on cases.
“Similarly, there are several cases of officers and ranks of the commission whose employment in the service were unjustly suspended or terminated,” the party said. ‘Computers missing at NFIU’ Meanwhile, sources said two computers were missing from the office of the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU).
Sources said contrary to media reports no document was missing in the office apart from the two computers. One of the sources said the incident happened at a period when NFIU relocated to a temporary office in Wuse 2 area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja.
The source, who dismissed the linking of incident to the current probe of the EFCC chairman said no information could be tampered with as NFIU data were actually domiciled in the server and not on the systems.
“The truth is that some people burgled the office and took away two computers. Not a single document was taken away from the temporary office. You know the NFIU is moving from the main office to a temporary office in Wuse 2.
“Those computers which have not been set up for use are taken to the temporary office. The linking of the incident to Magu case is not true because most of the NFIU data are resting on the server and not really on the systems.
The systems are just gateways to the server. So, no information will be missing. Most of the reports are actually not true,” one of the sources said. While reacting to the incident, PDP Deputy National Publicity Secretary, Mr Diran Odeyemi, said the vandalism showed that some officials of the EFCC who have sympathy for Magu, were at work to stop his probe
“Everything is pointing towards Magu’s crony in the EFCC; those who benefitted from his crone practices as the leader of the EFCC.
“And I think the panel should notice this and ensure that Magu is not allowed to tamper with any of the documents. “With all that is happening, they just need to make more arrests in order to assure Nigerians that corruption is not fighting us back.
A legal practitioner, Hameed Ajibola Jimoh Esq said it is difficult to really say that there is sabotage over the alleged burglary on the NFIU’s office without having any evidence to substantiate the fact.
“What I would rather recommend is for a thorough investigation to be carried out by the government so that the public would not continue to speculate and be confused on the whole matters,” he said.