•Questions over N5b election fund, N2.5b recruitment fund
•Panel calls for files on all politically exposed persons on EFCC’s radar
•Magu’s untouchables, others, reappear before panel today
•FG asks govs to file reports on EFCC activities in their states since 2015
By Emma Nnadozie, Crime Editor, Ikechukwu Nnochiri, Johnbosco Agbakwuru & Omeiza Ajayi
The presidential panel probing suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has asked him to account for N5 billion election fund, in addition to another N2.5 billion, called recruitment fund.
The panel, led by former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, equally called for the files of all politically-exposed persons and invited the commission’s Director of Finance, who was redeployed to the Ministry of Works a week before Magu was arrested.
He was redeployed to the Works Ministry, from where he was seconded to the anti-graft agency.
This came as the Presidency, weekend, directed governors to furnish the panel with reports of the activities of Magu and his operatives in their respective states since 2015.
Further, the Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar Abba, who President Muhammadu Buhari made acting Chairman of the EFCC, weekend, also sent a memo to all divisional heads, directing them to send him their handover notes, latest today.
Vanguard gathered that the panel also asked all the directors of the commission and the Secretary that appeared before it on Friday to re-appear today as, according to a source, the panel was not satisfied with their explanation.
The panel had, last week, grilled Secretary to the EFCC and directors with the commission on some of the allegations against Magu.
Sources close to the panel told Vanguard that some of the officials quizzed could not respond satisfactorily to the questions asked them and, therefore, requested to go back to their offices to study relevant documents at their disposal in readiness for today’s session.
The sources disclosed that the EFCC officials denied involvement in all the allegations against their suspended boss, indicating that only Magu could provide answers to all allegations of financial impropriety against him.
However, the panel, according to the sources, requested them to go back and prepare and possibly arm themselves with documents relating to all transactions allegedly authorised by Magu.
The source said: “The panel has asked the directors and sectional heads to reappear on Monday (today) because most of them could not answer the questions they were asked.
“They said most of the information could only come from the chairman, as he was the person handling the matters. The fresh ones are going on Monday.”
Magu gets medical attention
Meanwhile, a source at the Old Banquet Hall said the suspended Magu was attended to by medical personnel at the venue on Thursday, as he sneezed profusely.
According to the source, “Magu, at a time, was sneezing profusely and his lawyer told the panel that he should be released on self-recognition, so he could treat himself.
“What the panel did was to bring medical personnel to the venue to attend to him.”
EFCC’s unit heads ordered to file reports
On the memo sent by the commission’s Director of Finance, dated July 10, the divisional heads were asked to file in their reports by noon today.
The memo, with Ref: 4001/EFCC/DOPS/VOL.02/71, signed by the Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar Abba, read: “You are directed to, as a matter of urgency, file notes in respect of your respective departments, zones, units and sections as at today (Friday) July 10, 2020.
“This is sequel to the change of leadership of the commission, following the suspension of former Ag Executive Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, and directing the Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar Abba, to take charge and oversee the activities of the commission.
“Replies are expected to reach the office on or before Monday (today), latest by 12 noon unfailingly in both hard and soft copies.”
Presidency asks govs to report on EFCC activities since 2015
In a similar vein, the Presidency, weekend, asked state governors to furnish the Presidential panel investigating Magu and his operatives with their activities in their respective states between 2015 till date, without delay.
Sources said the governors were also directed to fish out politicians and wealthy individuals, including foreigners, that suffered one deprivation or the other or died as a result of the activities of EFCC operatives within the period under review.
It was also learned that all police officers that served in EFCC between 2015 under Magu had been directed by the Presidency to write the roles they played in the commission’s activities during the period and submit same to the investigative panel, warning that failure to do same would result in serious sanctions and disciplinary actions.
Similarly, they were directed to disclose information on how to recover alleged looted funds by the suspended chairman of the commission both within and overseas, and were assured of double promotion.
Vanguard gathered that the Presidency equally warned that any EFCC director or senior staff that worked under Magu discovered to own doubtful property or mansions would have to prove how he acquired them.
The Presidency appealed to Nigerians and foreigners whose properties were confiscated by operatives of EFCC during the period to furnish the panel with such information, with a view to getting justice.
Sources also stated that members of the panel were seriously advised against compromising their investigation as the issue of Magu was being taken as “more deadly than COVID-19 pandemic and must be handled with the speed of light.”
Magu failed to account for 332 recovered property worth billions – Presidential C’ttee
Also, a report by the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets, PCARA, accused the suspended acting EFCC chairman of allegedly failing to give a proper account of 332 of 836 recovered real estate property in March 2018 worth billions of naira.
The committee in its report also noted massive wastage and deterioration of physical assets (including landed property, cars and vessels recovered by the EFCC, due to poor management.
It equally noted with concern the failure to preserve and realise the economic value of the recovered assets, noting that some of the assets were recovered over 15 years ago and left fallow.
“A disturbing example are vessels that allegedly sank at NNS Beecroft Naval Base, Lagos and NNS Pathfinder Naval Base in Port Harcourt, without trace under the watch of the Acting Chairman of EFCC.
“The vessels named MT GOOD SUCCESS, MV PSV DERBY and MV THAMES were allowed to sink, in spite of several warnings from the Navy on the need to evacuate the petroleum products in the vessels.
The total value of the assets lost due to the negligence runs into millions of US dollars
The (suspended) Acting Chairman is yet to provide a report on what happened to these vessels,’’ the report said.
The PCARA report, according to the News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, noted that the few consultants hired by EFCC were managing a substantial number of the recovered assets, adding that the anti-graft agency had no capacity to manage the entire assets on its own.
The committee, therefore, alerted the nation on the economic and environmental implications of this negligence of duty by the commission.
It equally observed that EFCC made conflicting submissions or returns to it in respect of the non-cash assets which substantially affected the committee’s assignment.
The report read in part: “For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of Recovered Real Estate in the Original Returns it made to the President on 07/04/2017.
“However, in its 1st Returns to PCARA on 13/12/2017, EFCC short-changed the system and gave the figure of 339 thereby failing to account for 497 property.
“It is interesting to note that when the Acting Chairman was further queried on this lapse, he made a further contradictory second return of 504 on 09/03/2018, thereby bridging the gap to 332 property.’’
Lack of control, no returns from zonal offices
It identified lack of internal control mechanisms/systems within EFCC and lack of adequate returns by EFCC Departments and Zonal Offices as reasons for these discrepancies and inconsistencies by the commission.
The suspended EFCC boss was also alleged to have neglected and refused to comply with the regulations on the Management of Recovered Assets, 2019 as he embarked on disposing of some of the property without regard to extant law.
“These regulations were issued in line with international best practices and to ensure that all the anti-corruption agencies report all their recovered assets in a database provided by the Federal Government.
’’It is important to note that the (suspended) Acting Chairman in apparent disregard of the regulation is disposing of these properties without regard to extant laws, and regulations and without reference to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and in effect, there is no way to have an audit of the property.
“This is also a clear sign that there is a deliberate attempt to hide the exact figures of recoveries, which is an indication of fraudulent intent.
“These actions of the (suspended) Ag. Chairman in refusing the Regulation is a clear case of refusal to follow lawful instructions and directives contrary to the provisions of the Act that established the EFCC,’’ a separate report on the matter, addressed to the president, further noted.
The report also listed the number of the affected properties suspected to have been illegally acquired as well as bank accounts of individuals serving as fronts for EFCC officials.
“Most of the recovered assets are allegedly sold without anyone knowing and without proper records and without recourse to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that has the mandate to undertake the evaluation of such property.
“Some of the assets have been taken over by EFCC officials, while some were sold at giveaway prices to friends and cronies,” the PCARA report added.
Buhari ordered DSS to probe Magu in 2018
Unknown to Ibrahim Magu, President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Department of State Services, DSS, to investigate him as far back as 2018, according to online platform, The Cable.
The DSS, which has a financial crimes unit, played the central role in unearthing the allegations for which the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, is now facing a presidential probe.
The President was said to have been shocked when the DSS provided a comprehensive dossier on Magu which was “damning”.
“If Magu was a man who can read the signs, he should have asked himself why the President did not re-present his name to the Senate for confirmation as EFCC chairman since the new National Assembly was inaugurated,” a senior presidential source told TheCable.
The current Senate has never turned down any nominee of the President, unlike the previous one which refused to confirm Magu.
However, it would appear Magu eventually got wind of the moves against him as he tried to ingratiate himself with the President, the source noted.
“He came to the mosque at the Presidential Villa to say Jumaat prayers along with the President on June 5, but the President was not very comfortable with it.
“President Buhari prefers to pray with his family and personal aides, so he was not happy when Magu wangled his way to the mosque after the partial lifting of lock-down. An instruction was then issued that he should not be allowed to come to the mosque,” the source said.
The trigger for the DSS investigation, according to the source, was the report of the presidential committee on audit of recovered assets.
The three-member committee was inaugurated on November 22, 2017, by Buhari to audit all assets recovered by agencies of the Federal Government from May 29, 2015, when his government was inaugurated.
The committee was headed by Olufemi Lijadu, with Mohammad Nami and Gloria Bibigha as members.
READ ALSO: Grumbling in EFCC over Magu’s successor
Lijadu is now chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, SEC, while Nami was appointed chairman of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS. Bibigha works in the office of the Auditor-General of the Federation.
The audit committee, inaugurated on November 22, 2017, submitted its report six months behind schedule because of the extent of the work, and the aspect on EFCC “took the president by surprise”.
The report said the EFCC reported N46,038,882, 509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgements were N37,533,764,195.66, “representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.213.
“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,” the report noted.
“While EFCC reported total 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.”
European coalition writes Buhari over Magu
Meanwhile, three foreign anti-corruption groups have said the exit of Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, might erode the recent gains in the fight against corruption.
They said what was going on in Nigeria “is of concern to the international community.”
According to the groups, Re: Common, Global Witness and The Corner House based in Europe, Nigeria has made huge strides in the fight against corruption under Magu’s leadership.
The groups’ position was contained in an open letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, signed by Lucas Manes of Re: Common, Nicholas Hildyard of Corner House and Simon Taylor of Global Witness.
Olanrewaju Suraju signed on behalf of Human and Environmental Development Agenda, the Nigerian member of the coalition.
Allegations against Magu
Some of the allegations made against Magu by the AGF include:
Alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds.
- Declaration of N539 billion as recovered funds, instead of N504 billion earlier claimed
- Insubordination to the Office of the AGF
- Alleged late action on the investigation of P&ID, leading to legal dispute
Not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7 billion judgement in favour of a former executive director of a bank
Not providing enough evidence for the extradition of Diezani Alison-Madueke
- Alleged delay in acting on two vessels seized by the Navy
- Alleged favouring of some investigators called Magu Boys
- Reporting some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF
- Alleged sale of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends
- Alleged issuance of investigative activities to some media prejudicial to some cases.
My approval for auction of seized vessels legal, Malami insists
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami(SAN), has justified the approval he gave to Omoh Jay Nig Ltd, a firm accused of stealing crude oil and diesel, to auction seized vessels.
The AGF, in a statement by his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu, insisted that the firm had no pending criminal charge at the time it was granted the contact through an open bid that held in 2019.
He said his attention was drawn to a “maliciously concocted publication in some media outfit”, alleging that the auction contract was given to a company that is purportedly standing trial in court for stealing crude oil and diesel.
Malami decried that the misleading reports were aimed at confusing the public and tarnishing his good image
Narrating his side of the story, Malami stated that Omoh Jay Nig Ltd was granted the approval vide Department of Petroleum Resources, DPR, letter DPR/DSM/ROM/OPS/COL 2/285 dated August 11, 2009 to evacuate the products onboard of MT AKUADA and MT HOPE.
He said: “That was four years before the coming of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government and long before Malami was appointed as the Attorney General of the Federation.
“EFCC filed a motion dated June 8, 2009 but filed on June 11, 2009 in suit No. FHC/B/130C/08 held at Court 1, Ikpoba hill, Benin City before Hon. Justice Chukwura Nnamani praying for the following orders:
“An ORDER vesting custody of the vessel with contents on the Federal Republic of Nigeria (FRN);
“An ORDER forfeiting the vessel MT AKUADA used in conveying bunkered 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil seized to FRN; and
“An ORDER forfeiting the bunkered 12,000 to FRN. NOTE: The Motion was struck out on October 23, 2009.
“Also note that Omoh Jay Nig. Ltd filed Suit No FHC/L/CS/652/2018 against EFCC and 4 ors on September 11, 2018 at Lagos Judicial Division before Hon. Justice M.S Hassan, praying for an ORDER directing the EFCC to unfreeze its account with a bank as it unlawfully and illegally connived to freeze the account without a valid court order.
“The EFCC did not file a counter affidavit or any written agreement. On May 13, 2019, Hon. Justice M.S Hassan granted the prayer of Omoh Jay Nig Ltd.
“The OHAGF confirms that following the President’s directive to clear territorial waters and highways of obsolete and unauthorised vessels, barges, ships, boats, trucks vehicles amongst others, it obtained Final Forfeiture Orders dated January 16 2018 and April 16, 2019 from the Federal High Court on behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria in Suit N0 FHC/ABJ/CS/741/2017, FHC/ABJ/CS/742/2017 and FHC/ABJ/CS/237/2019.
“Based on the advice of the Office of the National Security Adviser, which is predicated upon the risk being posed by the drifting vessel MT ANUKET containing crude oil at Elegushi Beach and on the basis of the expertise and experience of Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited in the disposal of the content of AKUADA and MT HOP,E when engaged by the Department of Petroleum Resources dated August 11, 2009;
“The OHAGF engaged their vide letter dated September 9, 2019 to conduct an Open Bid Sale for the following vessels:
“MT ASTERIS with Crude Oil; MV PSV DERBY with Automated Gas Oil (AGO); MV ZAHRA with Automated Gas Oil (AGO); MT PEACE; and MT ANUKET EMERALD.
“The only involvement of Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited as far as the documents before the OHAGF is the baseless freezing of Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited account as a fall-out in the case lost by the EFCC on MT AKUADA and MT HOPE and even at that, the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, has struck out motion brought against Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited as stated above.
“It is worthy to mention that the disposal of the vessels was done following the final forfeiture obtained by the OHAGF and the Presidential Directive of October 24, 2018 directing the OHAGF to put in the interim before the passage of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, appropriate transitional arrangements for the management and expeditious disposal of the realisable assets so as to preserve their economic value.
“Therefore, as far as the question of the criminality of Omoh Jay Nigeria Ltd is concerned, it is not before the OHAGF and for the avoidance of doubt, it should be noted that the disposal of the vessels under reference was conducted with the due process following a report submitted by the Federal Ministry of Works, Power and Housing on the value of these assets.
“It should be further noted that Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited is one among the 38 auctioneers appointed by the OHAGF after being selected during the opening of the pre-qualification bid.
“The disposal of the vessels was also done following Final Forfeiture Order obtained by the OHAGF and recovered monies are paid into the FGN Recovery Account.
“The recovered monies for the sale of MT Asteris with crude oil and content in MT Anuket Emerald has been paid into the FGN Asset Recovery Account domiciled at CBN.”
Take Magu to court or grant him bail, says Oyetibo
Reacting to Magu’s continued detention by the Federal Criminal Investigation Department, FCID, senior lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo(SAN) said this was against constitutional provisions which presumed him innocent until proven guilty and should, therefore, be granted bail.
Oyetibo said in a statement on Sunday: “On Monday, July 6, it was widely reported that the now suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, was arrested and taken before the Justice Ayo Salami-led Panel of Inquiry set up by the President to investigate a number of allegations raised against him.
“As of today, Sunday, July 12(yesterday), Magu is reported to still be in detention, while the investigation of the allegations made against him continues.
“Although the allegations made against Magu are said to be documented and border on serious economic crimes and abuse of office, that does not mean that he has lost his constitutional rights.
“Amid the cacophony of allegations of serious crimes made against Magu, the law of Nigeria still speaks the same language, which is expressed in Section 35 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“It provides to the effect that every person who is arrested or detained upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence shall be brought before a court of law within a period of 24 hours in the case of an arrest in a place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres, otherwise he ought to be released on bail.”