Magu exits EFCC gradually as FG begins his ‘trial’

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The federal government might dispense with the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu as he was arrested yesterday by the Department of State Services (DSS) operatives and brought before a panel headed by a former president of the Court of Appeal, retired Justice Ayo Salami for alleged corruption and insubordination.

The panel, which was inaugurated recently, interrogated Magu at the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The panel had about seven other members including the deputy inspector general of police, Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Mr. Mike Ogbizi.

It was gathered that attempts to bring the EFCC chief before the panel in the past had proved abortive.

“So, on Monday (yesterday), a team of security agents in plain clothes accosted him around the old EFCC office in Wuse 2.

“Magu’s men quickly put up a resistance but the security officials on the other side quickly corked their guns and insisted that they were following presidential orders.

“They immediately took Magu into custody and brought him before the panel,” said a source.

The panel, it was gathered quizzed Magu for over six hours on allegations raised in a memo against him by the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.

It would be recalled that Malami, had in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, detailed alleged cases of malfeasance against Magu, and sought his sacking for alleged corruption and insubordination.

He anchored his recommendation on several grounds “raging from diversion of recovered loot to insubordination and misconduct” by Magu while including a shortlist of three candidates for consideration to replace the EFCC boss.

It was learnt that no fewer than 24 allegations were levelled against the acting EFCC chairman, many emanating from reports by Malami and the DSS submitted in 2016 and 2017 to the senate.

The EFCC boss was accused of living above his means, fraternising with corrupt persons, diversion of recovered funds, discrepancies in recovered funds and many others.

A source said Malami had earlier directed the police to investigate the allegations against Magu, but he discovered that the police were hiding some information and were not thorough in their investigations.

Consequently, the DSS was directed to be part of the investigating team.

Malami had alleged some of the funds recovered by the EFCC were not in the CBN accounts.

The DSS in a 2016 report for instance said Magu was not fit to serve as EFCC chairman.

The secret police also said in the report that the Police Service Commission (PSC) had in December 2010, found Magu guilty of action prejudicial to state security – withholding of EFCC files, sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a police officer- and awarded him severe reprimand as punishment.

Reacting to Magu’s travail, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) said in a statement by Prof Femi Odekunle, that Malami is “an arrow-head or a major agent of a power bloc that is not really interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.”

PACAC said the alleged originating Malami memo, up to the current ‘arrest’ “seems an outcome of power play by power blocs in the corridors of power.”

Furthermore, it stated: “Malami had been exploiting his loyalty and closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari for his personal/power bloc agenda, but not manifesting any genuine commitment to the anti-corruption fight.

“The position of PACAC is that while Magu, or any official of whatever status, must be nailed if found to be corrupt, the President must be careful not to shoot his anti-corruption fight and modest achievements in the foot, and not to forget that EFCC, under Magu, has been the administration’s anti-corruption poster-face.

“Notwithstanding the situation at hand, the hope of PACAC is that the President would wake up to the ongoing shenanigans of power players that are working from the inside against his anti-corruption fight.

“We are also counting on the experience and dexterity of the new chief of staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, whose loyalty to the President and the good of the country cannot be doubted.

“We also hope that the demonstrated integrity of retired Justice Salami would carry the day for thoroughness, fairness and justice in the interest of the anti-corruption fight.”

Also reacting, Magu’s lawyer, Mr. Oluwatoyin Ojaomo, said the forces behind corruption in Nigeria are more powerful than the coronavirus disease.

Speaking on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme yesterday, he said his client was under probe because of the disparity in the figures of recoveries he announced publicly and the funds remitted to the government’s coffers.

He said the funds remitted were more than the monies declared.

“When you are fighting corruption, the forces behind corruption are so powerful; they are more powerful than COVID-19.

“You can imagine what is happening. Instead of Magu to be celebrated, those powerful corrupt persons who have the media backing them are trying to call a dog a bad name so they can hang it,” he said.

Meanwhile, it was learnt that Magu might be asked to step down pending the outcome of investigation.

“The usual procedure is that when one is facing an investigation of this nature, he would be advised to step down.

“This is because the EFCC is the face of this government’s anti-corruption crusade and keeping Magu there amid this investigation could present a moral challenge.

“I understand that he has been advised to hand over to the next most senior director but he is being adamant,” as source confided in Punch

Meanwhile, the EFCC said its boss was questioned by the panel but not arrested.

Spokesman for the agency, Mr. Dele Oyewale, said in a statement that: “Magu honoured an invitation by a presidential panel reviewing the activities of the EFCC at the Banquet Hall wing of the Presidential Villa,  Abuja.

“He was served the invitation to the panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja for a meeting.

“The EFCC’s boss was neither arrested nor forced to honour the invitation.  A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him at the panel.”

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