5 October 2017

Nigeria: Patience Jonathan - Reps C'tte Orders Magu's Arrest

Photo: Vanguard
Ibrahim Magu.

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions, yesterday, issued a warrant for the arrest of acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, over his refusal to appear before it.

The committee, disturbed by Magu's deliberate refusal to appear over former First Lady, Patience Jonathan's petition demanding that her bank accounts be unfrozen, issued a bench warrant for Magu's arrest.

Magu is consequently expected to appear before the committee on November 7, to defend the role his commission played in getting six bank accounts belonging to the former first lady frozen.

Kingsley Chinda (PDP, Rivers), at the resumed investigative hearing yesterday, drew the attention of the committee to the absence of the EFCC chairman.

He said it was sad that Magu had consistently refused to respond to summons by the committee to appear before it, noting that the action of the EFCC boss was hampering the quick determination of the petition by Mrs Jonathan.

"Mr Chairman, they have consistently failed to appear. This country is governed by law and not by force. If EFCC officials think that they are above the law, we are parliamentarians, will move by way of motion that the Chairman of EFCC be issued a warrant to appear at next hearing.

"Recall that the committee at its last hearing had threatened to issue a warrant for the arrest of Magu if he failed to appear in person or send a representative at yesterday's hearing. Mr Chairman, I apply that we issue a bench warrant against the EFCC.

"The last time I applied that a bench warrant be issued against the EFCC."

Chairman of the Committee, Rep Uzoma Nkem-Aboonta (PDP, Abia) also complained that the absence of EFCC had really slowed down the committee's efforts at resolving the issue.

At this point, the banks were invited to make their submissions on decisions reached on September 10, where the committee directed that the banks should unfreeze the accounts without court and EFCC orders.

Only Union and Ecobank complied, while others failed to comply which made the committee to direct the other banks to furnish the committee with all the relevant orders issued by the courts and EFCC.

In his ruling, Abonta said, "I'm giving you two weeks to make available documents to the petitioner's counsel and the counsel should do likewise and appear before this committee on November 7."

Speaking earlier, Charles Ogboli, counsel to Jonathan's wife, argued that some of the cheques presented were returned unattended to.

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