…suspended EFCC boss to face grill over missing N550bn
The presidency on Saturday broke the silence on the suspension of Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
According to the presidency, a series of documented allegations were made against the Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and that following a preliminary review of the allegations leveled against Magu and several other members of his staff, there were grounds for a detailed investigation to be conducted.
“Hence, an investigative panel was constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.
“As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the Chief Executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the Chief Executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation,” said the presidency, in a statement issued by Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant to the President (Media & Publicity).
The presidency said the EFCC did not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.
“Therefore, the suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.
“The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.
“Meanwhile, Mr. Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.
“We must realize that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution,” it said.
According to the presidency, what was, however, important is that there must be accountability and transparency and “our people must realize that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of Accountability and the recognition of the Rule of Law.
“Those who see Mr. Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat. There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system.
“Under this President and Government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.
“Mr. Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government. No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.”
However, new facts have emerged on how interest rates accruing from N550 billion recovered by the EFCC in the period under review were allegedly re-looted.
Magu is now expected to disclose the whereabouts of the missing interest funds running into millions of naira.
The Final Report of Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) that covered the period of May 29, 2015, to Nov. 22, 2018, had also confirmed the concerns of the public about contradictory recovery figures emanating from Magu.
“It is quite disturbing that conflicting figures are being circulated in the public space by EFCC as the amount of recovered funds
“For Foreign currency recoveries, EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.
“These inconsistencies cast a 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.
“While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of 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.
“It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than thirty-nine billion naira does not include interest accrued in this account since it was opened.
“It, therefore, cast serious doubt on the credibility of the figures and means that substantial amount of money has not been accurately accounted for.
“Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgements clearly establishes that interest element of over N550 billion has been re-looted relating to the period under review.
“This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts,’’ the report stated in part.
The PCARA also revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu.
“The NFIU reports established that the Acting Chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases collecting bribes from suspects.
“The report has shown that a particular Bureau de Change, owned by Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono linked to the Acting Chairman based in Kaduna has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of funds.
“The link to Magu was also established by the payment of N28 million to FALANA who is a close associate and ally of the Acting Chairman,’’ the PCARA report further revealed.
However, the Salami probe panel is expected to continue sitting on Monday while Magu’s lawyer, Mr Oluwatosin Ojaomo, had on Friday applied for an administrative bail for his client, who is facing corruption and other charges before the panel.