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Ibrahim Magu, suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has asked Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), to provide evidence of corruption against him.

In a letter to the presidential panel investigating him, Wahab Shittu, Magu’s counsel, asked the committee to summon the AGF to prove the infractions he accused his client of.

The panel was mandated to investigate the former EFCC boss after Malami recommended his removal over allegations of corruption in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He accused Magu of “not acting in the overall best interest of the country and the policies of this administration due to its mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets” among other allegations.

Since his probe started, Magu, through his lawyer, has often raised the alarm over the “unfair manner” with which the panel, headed by Ayo Salami, retired president of the appeal court, is operating.

In a letter dated September 4, Shittu said providing evidence of the allegations against Magu is necessary to show credibility and for fair hearing.

“We believe that consistent with the fundamental principles of fair hearing as guaranteed under Section 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, our client is entitled to be confronted with copies of allegations against him as well as the opportunity to confront his main accuser (in this case, the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation) to enable our client raise issues concerning the allegations and cross-examine the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation on the substance and credibility of his allegations against our client,” he said.

We hereby apply for the issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Subpoena Duces Tecum on the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to appear before this Judicial Commission of Inquiry to give evidence concerning his memo to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari (regarding Magu).”

The lawyer also requested the panel to recall witnesses who appeared and testified before it at the time Magu was not allowed to participate in its proceedings for cross-examination.

“Based on the foregoing, our client is entitled to participate in the entirety of the proceedings including afforded the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses in these proceedings,” he said.

“We will also humbly request for guidance on specific procedure, schedule and timeline earmarked for the defence to enable our client adequately prepare and call relevant and material witnesses/documentary evidence ahead of his defence in the proceedings.”

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up to investigate the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, is expected to submit its report latest next week going by the terms of reference given to the panel by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The document inaugurating the panel, which was personally signed by the President, stated that the commission had 45 days to complete its probe of the suspended EFCC boss.

The document is titled, ‘Instrument Constituting a Judicial Commission of Inquiry for the Investigation of Mr Ibrahim Magu, the Ag. Chairman of the EFCC for Alleged Abuse of Office and Mismanagement of Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020’.

Buhari listed the seven members of the panel to include a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (North-Central); Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Michael Ogbezi (South-South); a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Muhammad Babadoko (North-Central); and Hassan Abdullahi from the Department of State Services (North-Central).

Others are Muhammad Shamsudeen from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (North-West), Douglas Egweme from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (South-East), and Kazeem Atitebi (South-West) who serves as the Secretary.

The document dated July 3, 2020, read in part, “I hereby direct the judicial commission to submit its interim reports to me from time to time, but the judicial commission shall, in any case, submit its final report not later than 45 days from the date of its first public sitting or within such extended period as may be authorised by me in writing.”

The PUNCH learnt that the commission is expected to submit its report on or before August 19, 2020.

It was also learnt that although the President recommended a public sitting, the commission led by Salami had been holding its activities behind closed doors.

According to the document, Buhari directed the panel to audit the accounts of the EFCC from 2015 to 2020.

The panel is also to investigate allegations of personal enrichment, abuse of office, disobedience to court orders, and the alleged sale of recovered assets to cronies by Magu.

The commission was asked to investigate an alleged complaint against Magu by the National Crime Agency of the United Kingdom.

The suspended EFCC boss is also being probed for his handling of the controversial P&ID case which cost Nigeria billions of dollars in judgment debt.

Four weeks after Ibrahim Magu, suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), first appeared before a presidential panel probing his activities, there are indications that the panel has less than two weeks to submit its report to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a letter signed by the president, Buhari approved the establishment of a judicial commission of enquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004), to investigate the allegations levelled against Magu.

According to the letter, the panel is given 45 days “from its first public sitting” to submit its report.

Magu was whisked away by a combined team of DSS operatives and officers from the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) on July 6, 2020, and then taken before the panel.

The panel is investigating the activities of the commission under Magu’s watch.

Persons named as members of the panel are Ayo Salami, retired president of the court of appeal, (north-central), who is the chairman; Anthony Ogbizi Michael, deputy inspector-general of police, (south-south) as deputy chairman, and Kazeem Attitebi (south-west) as secretary.

Others members of the panel are Muhammad Abubakar Babadoko, ministry of justice (north-central); Hassan Yahaya Abdullahi (DSS) (north-central); Muhammad Shamsuddeen office of the auditor general of the federation (north-west) and Douglas Egweme (NFIU) (south-east).

Although journalists have so far been barred from covering the activities of the panel, there have been reports of happenings of the committee which grilled Magu.

Magu is said to have been formally served his allegations and terms of reference on August 8, 2020, even though he has previously issued statements through Tosin Ojoamo, his counsel, denying allegations against him.

He has also questioned the panel on why persons under EFCC trial were being asked to testify against him.

Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says he will respond to every allegation against him now ”point to point”.

In a statement issued by Wahab Shittu, his lawyer, the suspended EFCC chief denied misappropriating funds recovered for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

He said the allegations against him border on matters that were never brought before the panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe the activities of the EFCC under him.

He also said the allegations were prejudicial to the proceedings of the panel.

”Take notice that, our client can no longer fold his hands in the face of these sustained malicious attacks to prejudge him in the public space. Our client will henceforth, point by point reply to all false allegations orchestrated against him in the public space on a daily basis as well as present his comprehensive defense for the world to see,” he said through his lawyer.

”This is without prejudice to the willingness of our client to defend himself in the ongoing proceedings at the Presidential Investigation Panel.

“The truth of the matter is that well over N329 billion recovered by EFCC under our client’s watch was remitted directly into NNPC dedicated accounts via Remita under a special arrangement endorsed by NNPC, EFCC and the affected NNPC’s indebted marketers.

“By virtue of the said special arrangement, NNPC had requested formally the EFCC to recover the said amount from the affected NNPC’s marketers who were expected to pay such funds directly to NNPC while NNPC, in turn, confirmed receipt of such payments to EFCC.

“Therefore, EFCC never took custody of any of the recovered funds and so, the question of misappropriation of such funds by EFCC or our client could not have arisen as falsely published,” he said.

He also described the allegations of false asset declaration against him as “gross misrepresentation and blatant falsehood”.

“Our client has never been confronted with any such allegations purportedly arising from the panel’s proceedings. The story attributed to the panel which has become a recurring decimal, is a dangerous attempt to discredit the work of the honourable panel,” he said.

Responding to the allegation that he was shielding some persons in the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) from prosecution, Magu said it is “falsehood from the pit of hell”.

“Investigations were painstakingly conducted by EFCC under our client’s watch. The matter has since been referred for prosecution. Charges have been prepared ahead of arraignment in court,” he said.

“Our client has no interest in shielding anyone found culpable from the long arms of the law. At any rate, time does not run against the state in criminal prosecutions. It is tendentiously wicked to suggest that our client excluded major approving authorities from the criminal process.

“As a matter of fact, one Peter Hena, head of the FIRS coordinator support services group, who allegedly authorized the illegal payment is one of those listed to be arraigned. The case was properly investigated and professionally vetted with our client deploying no influence whatsoever on the outcome.

Magu was arrested on July 6 and subsequently suspended as EFCC acting chairman following allegations of corruption brought against him by the office of the attorney-general of the federation (AGF).

Peter Obi, former governor of Anambra state, says the ordeal of Ibrahim Magu, former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is hurting the country more than him.

Magu is being investigated by a presidential panel for allegedly mismanaging loot recovered by the anti-graft agency.

The former acting chairman was arrested on July 6 and released after 10 days in detention.

In an interview with The Sun, Obi, who was the running mate to Atiku Abubakar, Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate during the 2019 polls, said fighting corruption as an economic policy is a waste of time.

He asked the federal government to focus on revamping the economy.

“What you hear today is not the news we should be hearing. What we hear today should be serious issues on the way we are going to go. We should be talking of a reliable roadmap. It should not be about how, in NDDC, Joy Nunieh slapped Akpabio, Oshiomhole vs. Obaseki, Magu this and that etc,” he said.

“We are preoccupied with travelling in the wrong direction. Just open the newspapers, including your own today and you see what the headlines will be. It is about one rascality or the other. I said even during the presidential election that you can fight thieves, but that should not be the primary focus of a government.

“Fighting corruption as an economic policy is a waste of everybody’s time. You can fight thieves, by what you are doing to salvage, strengthen, and rejig your economy. Let me tell you, what Magu is going through today is hurting the country more than it is hurting Magu, if you don’t know. Some people think today that oh Magu is in a mess, that Magu is this and that, but do you know who is in a mess? Nigeria.

“Newspaper headlines in a serious economy should be that the government, for instance, has decided to support SMEs with this or that quantum of money.”

Obi said the debts Nigeria is servicing are not productive, asking the federal government to think of creative ways to generate revenue.

“Looking at the last budget, we are providing not less than N2.9 trillion for servicing of debt, but our education and health budget combined is about the third of this,” he said.

“I can tell you that in the end, the amount we use in servicing the debt will be more than what is provided because we are borrowing more.

“The reason that is happening is that the debt we are servicing is not productive. Look at our development between 2010 and now.”

Ibrahim Magu, suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has said that he is not contemplating any legal action against the Nigerian Government.

Magu was arrested in Abuja last Monday and taken to the State House in Aso Villa to appear before the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Investigative Committee.

He was released 10 days after his arrest.

President Muhammadu Buhari set up the committee to investigate alleged mismanagement of recovered assets by the EFCC between May 2015 and May 2020.

Wahab Shittu, lawyer to Magu, said, “Our client appreciates the panel for ordering his release from custody even if the panel indicated it never ordered his detention at anytime in the first place. Our client appreciates the efforts of the Buhari administration in its commitment to the war against corruption including the ongoing probe being undertaken by the Hon justice Salami investigation panel.

“Our client undertakes to cooperate fully with the Salami panel by making available to the panel formal response to the allegations against him in the social media platforms and newspapers since he has not been formally served with copies of the allegations against him by the panel. Our client strongly appeals for a fair-minded probe proceedings against him including an open mind by the Nigerian people until the probe process is completed.

“Our client acknowledges the widely respected integrity of Mr President and chairman of the probe panel, Hon Justice Ayo salami (Rtd), and is hopeful that the truth in his case will ultimately prevail. Our client urges Nigerians and the international community to continue to support the current administration’s quest to rid our society against graft.

“Our client takes his current travail with philosophical calmness without bitterness in the belief that no one is above the law, that no matter how big anyone is, the law is bigger. Our client pleads that no publication be attributed to him without clearance from him directly or his counsel on record.

“Our client will never be a party to any derogatory comments against this administration which he considers himself to be an integral part of, and the President he respects so much.

“Our client is not contemplating any legal proceedings against this government that has given him an opportunity to serve and for which he retains uncommon respect and admiration mainly because of the commitment of the administration to the anti-corruption crusade which he shares with passion.”

Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has promised to cooperate with the presidential panel probing the anti-graft agency under his watch.

President Muhammadu Buhari had set up a panel to look into allegations of corruption and abuse of office levelled against Magu.

He was arrested on July 6 and whisked to the presidential villa in Abuja where the panel headed by Ayo Salami, former president of the court of appeal, sat.

Magu was detained at area 10 force criminal investigation department (FCID) until he was released on Wednesday.

In a statement on Friday, Wahab Shittu, Magu’s counsel, said the suspended EFCC boss is not contemplating legal action against the government.

Shittu said had accepted the probe because he knows no one is above the law.

He, however, appealed to Nigerians to leave their minds open till the end of the probe.

“Our client appreciates the efforts of the Buhari Administration in its commitment to the war against corruption including the ongoing probe being undertaken by the Hon justice Salami investigation panel,” the statement read.

“Our client undertakes to cooperate fully with the Salami panel by making available to the panel formal response to the allegations against him in the social media platforms and Newspapers since he has not been formally served with copies of the allegations against him by the panel.

“Our client strongly appeals for a fair- minded probe proceedings against him including an open mind by the Nigerian people until the probe process is completed.”

Shittu said Magu would not be a part to any “derogatory remark” against the incumbent administration.

“Our client acknowledges the widely respected integrity of Mr President and chairman of the probe panel, Hon Justice Ayo salami (Rtd) and is hopeful that the truth in his case will ultimately prevail,” the statement read.

“Our client urges Nigerians and the international community to continue to support the current administration’s quest to rid our society against graft.

“Our client takes his current travails with philosophical calmness without bitterness in the belief that no one is above the law, that no matter how big anyone is, the law is bigger. Our client will NEVER be a party to any derogatory comments against this Administration which he considers himself to be an integral part of, and the President he respects so much.”

Ibrahim Magu, suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was detained for a second night since his arrest on Monday.

Magu was arrested by a joint team of operatives of the Department of State Services and men of the Nigeria Police Force and then taken to the Presidential Villa where he was grilled for many hours.

The embattled anti-graft official was grilled on Tuesday for many hours as well while the DSS and the police also raided his house.

He spent the night at the Area 10 Force Criminal Investigation Department in Abuja.

 

A source at the presidency says the allegations against Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC), cannot be ignored because they are weighty.

The source, who pleaded for anonymity because no one has been authorised to speak on the probe, told reporters on Tuesday that anyone occupying the position of Magu should not be suspected of being involved in any fraudulent activity.

Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had accused Magu of gross infractions.

The AGF had asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Magu over some “weighty” allegations, including the diversion of recovered loot.

In addition to allegedly re-looting the recovered loot, Malami accused the acting EFCC chairman of insubordination and misconduct.

Security operatives whisked Magu to the presidential villa in Abuja on Monday and he was grilled by a panel set up to probe the anti-graft commission.

He was detained at area 10 force criminal investigation department (FCID) of the police in Abuja overnight and the interrogation continued on Tuesday.

The source said the investigation of the EFCC boss reinforces Buhari’s commitment to transparency and accountability.

He said it shows that nobody in the Buhari administration is above scrutiny.

“The panel investigating allegations against acting EFCC Chairman had been sitting for some weeks now,” the source said.

“In consonance with the principle of fairness and justice, it was needful that the acting Chairman be given opportunity to respond to the allegations, which are weighty in nature.

“Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, nobody is above scrutiny. Repeat: nobody. The investigation is to reinforce transparency and accountability, rather than to vitiate it.

“Accountability for our actions or inactions is inalienable part of democracy. In such elevated position as that of EFCC Chairman, the holder of the position must be above suspicion.

“There’s no prejudgment – absolutely none. The Buhari administration can be counted on to uphold fairness and justice at all times.”

Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), says in 2017, he gave several warnings that Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was looting the country’s treasury. 

Magu was arrested and detained by security operatives in Abuja on Monday.

He is being interrogated by a panel President Muhamadu Buhari set up to probe the anti-graft agency.

The panel began sitting three weeks ago, but was only able to compel Magu to appear before it on Monday.

Magu’s travails followed a memo by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), in which the suspended anti-graft czar was accused of grave malfeasance.

He was alleged to have mishandled the recovered loot and was selling seized assets to associates.

In a statement on Tuesday, Ozekhome said he wrote Yemi Osinbajo, the then acting president, to complain about Magu whom he alleged was not being sincere with the handling of recovered loot.

“I challenged him and his impunity severally in courts across Nigeria. I won virtually all the cases. I called for a change of the way and manner the ‘anti- corruption war’ was being selectively and opaqualey fought,” he said.

“I wrote a public letter in 2017, to the then acting president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) at a time his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, was sick on a London hospital bed. I complained bitterly, with facts, figures and data, that recovered looted funds and property, were being re-looted by the Magu-led team, who were supposed to keep the gate of our commonwealth.

“They looted our treasury in collaboration with their cronies, friends and acolytes. Magu was the new sheriff in town. I got no reply to my letter to Osinbajo. I wrote a reminder. No dice. I later challenged Magu publicly, face-to-face, on at least three occasions, one of which was at a ceremony at the federal high court in Abuja. Another was at a capacity-building workshop organised by the EFCC at its training academy in Karu, Abuja, which he graciously personally invited me to.

“He refused to change his ugly ways. It was clear to me and discerning Nigerians that power had gotten into his bald head. Power is an aphrodisiac, an intoxicating liquor. It bemuses. It gives delusional ‘Dutch courage.’ It forces reason to vacate its seat.”

The senior lawyer said for five years, Magu continued to work as acting chairman of the EFCC, as against the provisions of section 2(3) of the EFCC act, 2004 which provides that the senate must confirm him before he could continue in his office.

Ozekhome said Magu recruited expert “constitutional lawyers ” who argued that he could continue to stay in office.

He also accused Magu of subjecting those accused to media trial and humiliation.

He described Magu’s “arrest as a tragic reminder of the urgent need for temporary power wielders to act with moderation, modesty, circumspection and humility.”