…Says suspended EFCC chair deserves commendation
By Dirisu Yakubu
The United Kingdom, UK’s court ruling granting Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions in a $9.6 billion arbitration case with Process and Industrious Development, P&ID is a pointer to the good job done by suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, his lawyer, Wahab Shittu has said.
Vanguard recalls that the UK court in its ruling last week observed that “Nigeria has established a strong prima facie case that the Gas Supply and Process, GSPA, was procured by bribes paid to insiders as part of a larger scheme to defraud Nigeria.
“There is also a strong prima face case that P & ID main witness in the arbitration, Mr. Quinn, gave a perjured evidence to the tribunal and that contrary to that evidence, P&ID was not in the position to perform the contract.”
Reacting to the verdict, Shittu in a statement made available to Vanguard premised the development to the leadership style his client, Ibrahim Magu brought to bear over his investigation of the scam.
“The judgment has indeed greatly relieved the country from the impending and disastrous effect the execution of the $9.6b judgment plus interest would have had on our fragile economy. The decision once more shows that rather than punish Mr. Magu over his handling of the investigation, he should be given a heroic commendation for saving the country in a huge way.
“Magu should be celebrated rather than be vilified. It is rather unfortunate that the handling of P&ID investigation forms part of the allegations against him, which led to his suspension. There is no gainsaying that the evidence relied on in arriving at the decision came from the EFCC under Mr. Magu,” the statement read in part.
According to the defence counsel, “the English Judge was very satisfied with the way and manner the EFCC carried out its investigation when he held at paragraphs 253 and 254 of the judgment: “what occurred might have been the EFCC proceeding at its normal pace in the light of the resources allocated to it, the other inquiries it was conducting and conditions in Nigeria.
“By comparison, the position after August 2019 might be exceptional and prompted by the serious position Nigeria faced in the light of Butchers J’s decision on the enforcement application. At this point, it is impossible to say.
“However, I cannot accept Mr. Mill’s (P&ID’s counsel) submission that there was no proper diligent investigation. The basic point is that there was no specific information such that Nigeria ought to have become aware of the building blocks of fraud now alleged.”
He further quoted the Judge in Paragraph 251 as saying that “in my view, Mr. Mill underplayed the work which was undertaken over the June 2018- August 2019 period. In particular, there was the successful prosecution of P&ID and P&ID Nigeria on 19 September 2019 based on the groundwork undertaken during this fifteen-month period.
“Still underscoring the commendable work by the EFCC, the Judge concluded at page 260 that: ‘…the fraud is complex in character and continuing. Even on my preliminary examination, it comprises a number of quite different strands. What occurred, in this case, was deliberately concealed.
“Especially with international advisers it engaged, P&ID wore the cloak of legitimacy. In the circumstances which Nigeria has prima facie established, it acted reasonably in its investigations…”
Shittu also singled out the suspended EFCC boss for his work ethic, saying, “the public does not know that while this investigation was ongoing, the investigators and prosecutors including Magu used to close from work at 1 AM- 2AM and resume by 8AM including Saturdays and Sundays.
“Unfortunately, some of these men are currently on suspension without pay or transferred out of EFCC for doing nothing but working assiduously to save this country. They were not given any allegation or issued query.
“Contrariwise, the investigation against Mr. Magu and the EFCC would have caused the country to lose the judgment. This is because P&ID used the petition by the Attorney General of the Federation, AGF, against Mr. Magu to strengthen their case with Nigeria. Luckily, we have an upright English Judge who prudently appreciated the excellent and patriotic effort of the EFCC under Magu and the ineffectiveness of the AGF’s complaint.”