Magu probe: Buhari gives Salami-led investigative panel judicial powers

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*Magu, Salami

President Muhammadu Buhari has granted judicial powers to the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Investigative Committee on the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The panel which has been mandated to conduct public sittings will operate in line with Section 1 of the Tribunals Inquiry Act (CAP T21, LFN, 2004).

The panel which has so far been sitting in camera at the Presidential Villa in Abuja is investigating alleged financial impropriety and mismanagement of recovered assets leveled against the suspended acting chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

Its report is expected to be submitted 45 days after its first public sitting.

The panel has been examining activities of the EFCC under the stewardship of suspended Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu between 2015 and 2020.

The Judicial Commission of Inquiry can sit in Abuja or other places and upon such dates as the chairman may determine.

Among other things, the panel is charged with probing high profile local and international cases, including that involving Mrs. Diezani Alison Madueke and others; the $9.6billion judgment against Nigeria by Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) and complaints by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) in London.

Other areas of focus are the alleged non-compliance with presidential and ministerial directives; non-compliance with court orders; and non-compliance with procurement and financial management laws.

Also, a key area of the probe is the mandate to audit the assets and finances of the EFCC as a legal entity between 2015 and 2020.

The panel is expected to:

Investigate, verify, and review the recommendations of the presidential committee on Audit of recovered assets as it relates to the EFCC, with a view to ascertaining the complicity or otherwise of Ag. Chairman Ibrahim Magu in the mismanagement of the assets recovered by the commission;

Identify the avenue through which the recovered assets are dissipated and seized, recovered, forfeited (interim and final) assets are valued, managed, disposed or mismanaged with a view to ascertaining compliance or otherwise with extant laws, regulations, processes and procedures;

Review the existing procedures on the management of the seized, recovered and forfeited assets (interim and final) and proffer standard operational procedures for the management of seized, recovered and forfeited assets;

Determine whether movable or immovable assets including funds or cash recovered during his tenure, whether locally in Nigeria or abroad are being kept safely in a manner, as to preserve their original value;

(i)  Identify the location of all movable or immovable assets, funds or cash that are under interim or final forfeiture based on administrative or orders of the courts; and

(ii) Identify the bank accounts to which recovered funds or cash were paid into and whether generated interest from the recovered funds or cash was properly accounted for.

Whether all the assets could be properly accounted for by the acting chairman and take measures to – (i) confirm, if any, of the assets has been diverted to the benefit of the acting chairman, his family, relation, friends or favoured staff; and (ii) recover any of such diverted assets, funds or cash, if any and recommend, if the fund should be returned back to the EFCC or appropriate government agency, entities or individuals.

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