Nigeria: Day 6 - Panel Quizzes Magu On N700m Training Fund

14 July 2020

Suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, yesterday appeared before the Presidential panel probing him over allegations raised by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, for the sixth time.

Magu, who was arrested last week by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, and Force Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department, FCID, last week, was brought before the panel sitting at the Old Banquet Hall of Aso Villa, at 9:00am.

Vanguard gathered that at yesterday's sitting, the panel, led by former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, retd, ordered Magu's offices in Abuja and Lagos locked up.

Also, about 18 of his aides were ordered locked out of their offices by the panel.

A source told Vanguard that three bullet-proof exhibit vehicles (Special Utility Vehicles, SUVs,) he had been using were recovered from him by the panel

According to the source, one of the vehicles was recovered in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

It was also learned that the panel asked him to account for the sum of N700 million meant for training of the commission's operatives. the training, it was gathered, had not been held.

Vanguard also gathered that members of the panel stormed the headquarters of the anti-graft agency yesterday, arrested three operatives and made away with computers in the offices. The arrested operatives were also said to have been isolated from their suspended boss, Ibrahim Magu.

Bid to spirit Magu away busted

Similarly, Vanguard gathered yesterday that plans by some associates of the suspended acting chairman to spirit him out of his detention centre to an unknown place was exposed by officers of the Force Criminal Investigations and Intelligence Department at the Force Headquarters, Abuja.

Police sources hinted that the well-orchestrated plan which was blown open in the wee hours of Sunday, was to be carried out in conjunction with a team of policemen that perfected the escape of the Divisional Police Officer in-charge of Apo Division, FCT, Abuja, a few years ago.

Sources further revealed that the 332 seized properties worth billions of naira that were not accounted for by embattled Magu before the panel was deliberately concealed by planners of the escape so that they cannot be exposed further.

Vanguard learned that based on this development, police authorities have taken adequate steps to fortify and protect FCIID and environs to forestall an embarrassing situation. Sources said the measures were kept very close to the chest of the powers that be after the escape plan was exposed.

Malami gives Sahara Reporters 7-day ultimatum

Also yesterday, Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, advised online platform, Sahara Reporters, to, within seven days, retract all libelous, defamatory publications against him

Malami, in a statement signed by Dr Umar Gwandu, his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, said the consequence of the criminal defamation published by Sahara Reporters, has subjected him to considerable distress, psychological trauma and anxiety.

He said the publication has greatly injured his character and reputation, which is capable of lowering his estimation in in the eyes of right-thinking persons in the society.

He said that series of prejudicial articles/materials were published by Sahara Reporters Inc. which were adverse against him, disparaged his reputation via its online internet platform and broadcast on the internet via Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and other similar social media platforms where same could be viewed and accessed by the whole world and further shared and/or disseminated virally without restraint.

Malami noted in particular that on July 10, 11 and 12, Sahara Reporters, in what appears like a coordinated attack, viciously wrote and maliciously published libelous and criminally defamatory articles against his person.

The minister said it was pertinent to note that the publications were untrue, fabrications and mere figments of the imaginations of Sahara Reporters.

"Since the defamatory articles were published, I have been receiving several telephone calls and visits from well-meaning Nigerians, friends, well-wishers and associates from all over the world, including those I have dealt with and I'm still dealing with in my official capacity as Nigeria's Chief Law Officer, many of whom have expressed serious concerns over the publication," he said.

The AGF said the publication of malicious libel and criminal defamation against him by Sahara Reporters was with a view to disparaging him in the eyes of right thinking persons, contrary to the Nigerian Criminal and Penal Laws and a gross violation of his Right to the Dignity of the Human Person as guaranteed under the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

I didn't launder funds for Magu in Dubai - Pastor

In a related development, General Overseer of Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministries International, Abuja, Prophet Emmanuel Omale, yesterday denied laundering money for suspended Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

He reportedly bought a property worth N573 million on behalf of Mr. Magu in a money laundering deal.

But the prophet denied any involvement with stolen funds, saying his relationship with Mr. Magu had nothing criminal and has threatened to sue the News Agency of Nigeria NAN which originally published the said story. Other media organizations picked the story from the agency.

Prophet Omale, a leader of a prayer ministry, admitted meeting Mr. Magu in Dubai in March this year but that he only prayed for the suspended EFCC chairman, according to a letter by his lawyer, Chief Gordy Uche, SAN.

According to the cleric, Magu had travelled to Dubai over his health before the meeting between them. He claimed he had no property in Dubai and was not a front for Magu.

Omale's lawyer said: "Our client only visited Mr. Ibrahim Magu in a hospital in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, sometime in March 2020.

"Our client never laundered any funds whatsoever for Mr. Ibrahim Magu or for anybody whatsoever. Our client does not own any foreign bank account anywhere in the world.

"There are no funds whatsoever traceable from Mr. Ibrahim Magu to our client's bank accounts whatsoever, neither has our client received any funds whatsoever from Mr. Ibrahim Magu. Our client has never received any funds whatsoever from anybody on behalf of Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

"Our client does not own any property in Dubai. His name was never used to purchase any property whatsoever in Dubai, or anywhere else in any part of the world, for Mr. Ibrahim Magu."

Operatives disavow continued use of Policemen to head EFCC

Meanwhile, some operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, are grumbling over the continued use of police officer as head of the anti-graft agency, and have urged the federal government to change the the system in such a way that credible civilians and personnel of other security and law enforcement agencies could head the commission.

Sources at EFCC headquarters said since establishment of the commission, the police have been the only agency providing the head.

According to the sources, "the law establishing the EFCC recommends that the commission shall consist of a chairman who shall be the Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the commission.

"He shall be a retired or serving member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or its equivalent."

The aggrieved personnel argued that police officers brought to the commission on secondment, usually do not return to their original places of posting, alleging that most of them have remained in the commission for up to 17 years on secondment.

The operatives said the embattled suspended chairman was one of such police personnel brought to the commission by the pioneer chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, but has remained and never returned to his original office.

The EFCC sources wondered why the police who they claimed have a poor image among citizens will continue to run an anti-corruption body that should be seen as above board.

The source said: "Kanu Agabi (Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice under President Olusegun Obasanjo's administration) brought Ribadu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police. Then, Nuhu Ribadu brought police people on secondment.

"Secondment means come and help build the institution, which is often renewed after two years, after which the personnel on secondment returns to his original posting.

"But these people came and didn't want to go back. Some of them have stayed in this organization for up to 17 years. One of them is Magu who just ran into problem, some others have remained here for 17 years, which is against the law.

"You don't go to secondment and remain there. I don't know what is wrong with the government. The Police have turned this place into a police establishment. It's not a police establishment, neither is it a police department.

"It is an independent body, that is why Nuhu Ribadu recruited the operatives and trained them to bear arms.

"But the Police are carrying on as if they own the place, they don't want to leave and it has been turned to a kind of colonial master arrangement.

"How can you say that police are not good and you hand over the commission to police? Can you get anything good from bad wine? No, you can't get anything good from bad wine.

"We are not saying all police personnel are bad, there are some good ones among them but they are not many."

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