As this blog has reported, Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chair of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crime Commission, was detained July 7 by the state security service on vague charges involving corruption and misfeasance in office. Since then, in what would appear to be an orchestrated campaign to discredit him, the Nigerian press has been awash with allegations of Magu’s wrongdoing. They range from a claim that he secretly owns property in Dubai to charges he has embezzled millions from the Commission to an assertion he has paid off Nigeria’s sitting Vice President.
A point-by-point rebuttal of the allegations, issued by Mr. Magu’s counsel Wahab Shittu, is below. An interview with Mr. Shittu on the public affairs program “Law Weekly,” is here, and a discussion of the issues raised by Magu’s treatment and their implications for Nigeria’s fight against corruption is here.
Many Nigerians fear that the real reason Magu was detained and subsequently suspended from office is that he has been far too effective a corruption hunter (examples here and here). Let’s hope the Presidentially appointed panel investigating Magu acts promptly, fairly, and decisively. Nigeria needs an strong, effective Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to fulfill President Buhari’s pledge to fight corruption.
THE CHAIRMAN The Presidential Investigation Committee on The Alleged Mismanagement Of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances From May 2015 to May 2020.
Attention: Hon Justice Isa Ayo Salami (Rtd)
PUBLICATIONS PREJUDICIAL TO THE PROCEEDINGS OF THIS HONOURABLE PANEL
We act as Counsel of Choice to Mr Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, the suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC, hereinafter referred to as “Our Client” and on whose behalf and specific instructions we write as follows:
This is a follow-up to our letter dated 10th July, 2020 on behalf of our client.
Please be advised that the attention of our client has been drawn to serial falsehood publications in the media in respect of matters which never featured in the proceedings of this Honourable Panel.
These falsehood publications being orchestrated in the media include the following:
- NFIU SUBMITS REPORT ON MAGU’S FOREX TRANSACTIONS TO PANEL (SEE THE PUNCH OF TUESDAY, JULY 14, 2020)
This report was published in The PUNCH on Tuesday July 14, 2020.
Our client states categorically that he has not been confronted on alleged illegal transactions and no such report was tendered by NFIU in any proceedings before this panel involving him till date.
Our client states categorically that the maximum forex transactions he has been involved in is the sum of $10,000 (Ten Thousand Dollars) till date.
Our client also wishes to place on record that he has no link with Kaduna-based Bureau De Change Operator as erroneously reported in the publication.
- ALLEGED N573 MILLION NAIRA DUBAI PROPERTY LINKED TO MAGU
This allegation is outright falsehood and is denied by our client in unmistakable terms. It is instructive to state that the General Overseer of Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministries, Prophet Emmanuel Omale, in a pre-litigation letter addressed to News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), on Monday 13th July, 2020, denied the allegations that he bought a property in Dubai worth N573 million on behalf of our client. Our client challenges his accusers to provide details of such property and proof of ownership by our client. Instructively, The PUNCH at Page 8 of Tuesday July 14th, 2020 had published the denial of Prophet Emmanuel Omale to set the record straight.
- ALLEGED DIVERSION OF INTEREST ON RECOVERED FUNDS (SUNDAY PUNCH EDITION OF 12TH JULY, 2020)
This Publication on Front Page of Sunday Punch Edition of 12th of July, 20320 is outright falsehood.
Our client states that all recovered funds are lodged with TSA Account with Central Bank of Nigeria. It is elementary that funds in TSA Account lodged with CBN do not generate interest. It is therefore falsehood to publish that our client placed N500 billion (Five Hundred and Fifty Billion) recovered loot into deposit account. The alleged transaction never featured in the proceedings before this Honourable Panel. Our client was never confronted with any such allegation in the proceedings before this panel and the news is blatant falsehood.
- DAY 6: PANEL QUIZZES MAGU ON N700 MILLION TRAINING FUND (VANGUARD, TUESDAY 14TH JULY, 2020)
The allegation that this Panel requested our client to account for the sum of N700 million meant for the commission’s operatives is not true. Our client has not been confronted with such allegation by this Honourable Panel. Our client does not disburse any such funds in the EFCC. The immediate Director of Finance and Administration (DFA) summoned by the Panel must have furnished details on this as the custodian of the funds. Our client denies this allegation completely. Funds earmarked for training was properly utilised by the Commission. The DFA and the Director of Audit will explain the utilisation of the funds meant for training with supporting documentations.
- ALLEGED BID TO SPIRIT MAGU AWAY BUSTED (VANGUARD, JULY 14TH 2020 PG. 5)
The allegation that there were plans by some associates of our client to spirit him out of detention as published above is complete fabrication. Since our client has been in detention Nine (9) days ago, he has cooperated maximally with Law Enforcement Agents. Our client is only allowed very few restricted and fully screened visitors. No such incident took place as reported and this is an attempt to bring our client on collision course with the authorities he respects enormously. Our client, as a commissioner of police, will never escape from custody as he remains innocent and a patriotic citizen.
- SALAMI PANEL GRILLS MAGU, EFCC DIRECTORS AGAIN (DAILY TRUST, TUESDAY 14TH JULY, 2020 3)
The allegation that our client was grilled by the Panel on Monday, 13th July, 2020 as reported above is complete falsehood. The correct position was that our client and his Counsel (Mr. Wahab Shittu) arrived the venue of the ongoing Investigations on Monday 13th July, 2020 by 9am. Our client and his Counsel were kept at the waiting room of the venue of the sittings unattended to from 9am to 9pm when our client was taken back to custody. This followed the same pattern on Thursday and Friday last week when our client waited for 12 hours without being called upon by the Panel to partake in the proceedings. Witnesses called by the Panel were interrogated by the Panel without the participation of our client or his Counsel in the proceedings. This was also the pattern on Tuesday, 14th July, 2020. Our client chose to wait patiently on the panel.
- ALLEGED PAYMENT OF N4 BILLION TO PROF. YEMI OSINBAJO SAN, GCON, VICE-PRESIDENT OF THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA
Our client strongly denies this falsehood against the respected Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Our client has never given the sum of N4billion or any sum at all to Prof. Yemi Osinbajo SAN, GCON, Vice President of Federal Republic of Nigeria as wrongly reported. This allegation is complete falsehood designed to tarnish the hard-earned reputation of the Vice President and our client.
- ALLEGED PAYMENT OF N28 MILLION TO FEMI FALANA SAN
This allegation is complete fabrication. Our client never gave N28 million or any amount to Mr Femi Falana SAN as maliciously reported. Our client also denies any link with a Kaduna-based Bureau De Change Operator as alleged.
- SEARCH OF OUR CLIENT’S HOUSE – NO INCRIMINATING EVIDENCE FOUND
Our client confirms that his House was searched last Monday in his absence while in custody, but no incriminating evidence was found. It is untrue as reported that some dollars and expensive jewelries and wrist watches were found. Our client states that the search into his house did not reveal any incriminating evidence or materials. The cars removed from his residence were official vehicles assigned to our client as acting Chairman of EFCC.
- DENIAL OF COPIES OF ALLEGATIONS AGAINST OUR CLIENT
Our client is spending the 9th day in custody without being given copy of the allegations against him to enable him formally respond to same. Our client is ready to formally respond to allegations and furnish documentary evidence in support if served with the copy of the allegations.
Our client respectfully demands the following:
- A copy of the report of the Presidential Audit Committee
- A copy of the memo of HAGF to the President on our client
- Individual Petitions submitted to the Panel against our client.
Our client observes that rather being afforded copies of the allegations against him, some of these allegations are flying round on Social Media platforms with prejudicial consequences. Our client requests that these allegations be formally served on him to enable him respond to same immediately.
Our client observes that the Panel has issued official statement to the effect that it did not authorise the detention of our client. We request the Panel to recommend to the Inspector General of Police in whose custody our client is to release him from custody to enable him adequately prepare his defence and attend to his failing health. We plead with the authorities to release our client from custody.
- QUESTIONS OVER ALLEGED N5BILLION ELECTION FUND (VANGUARD, MONDAY, JULY 13, 2020)
Our client denies receiving from INEC or anybody the sum of N5billion Election Fund as maliciously reported above. Our client has never been confronted with the alleged N5billion Election Fund by this Panel. This outrageous sum quoted above is outright falsehood. Funds released by INEC to EFCC were disbursed directly to the beneficiaries who participated in the electoral process. This information can be verified from the INEC Chair, the Director of Finance and Administration EFCC and Director of Audit respectively. Our client has absolutely nothing to do with the sum disbursed as Electoral Fund and never benefitted from the disbursement. The story is complete fabrication designed to tarnish the image of our client.
- ALLEGED FAILURE TO SUBMIT EFCC AUDITED ACCOUNTS FOR FOUR (4) YEARS (THISDAY, MONDAY, JULY 13, 2020).
This publication above is complete fabrication. The truth is that EFCC under our client’s watch is not in arrears on the submission of Audited Accounts. EFCC has complied in the submission of Audited Accounts for four years running. The Audited Account for 2020 will be due statutorily for submission in September, 2020 by virtue of Section 37 of the EFCC Act, 2004.
- DSS, POLICE GO AFTER NFIU OFFICE BURGLARS (DAILY SUN, MONDAY, JULY 13, 2020).
Our client denies any link in the alleged burgling of the office of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), located at No 12, Ibrahim Taiwo Street, Aso Villa. Our client has no link with the Kaduna-based Bureau De Change (BDC) as reported. Our client states that an attempt to link him with the burglary or the Bureau De Change is a cheap blackmail. Our Client calls for investigation to unravel the truth.
- SUSPENDED EFCC BOSS ALLEGEDLY QUERIED OVER 322 RECOVERED PROPERTIES DAILY SUN JULY 13TH, 2020
It is untrue that this Honourable Panel queried our client over 322 recovered properties. In the interrogation of our client so far this has never featured even if the head of Assets Forfeiture of the EFCC has appeared before the Penal. Our client has also not been given a copy of the report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA). This publication is complete fabrication. The truth is that EFCC under our client’s watch is ready to respond to this allegation if obliged a copy of PCARA.
There has been no mismanagement of and certainly, there is no lack of transparency in the management of recovered assets under the leadership of our client. Our client’s detailed explanations are as follows:
SEIZED PROPERTIES ALLEGEDLY CORNERED BY TOP EFCC OFFICIALS, MAGU’S FRIENDS – PANEL (THE PUNCH, JULY 13TH, 2020)
The above publication is outright falsehood. Our client requests answers to the following:
- a) Who are the EFCC officials who cornered the properties?
- b) What specific properties were cornered? And by who?
- c) Who were these Magu’s friends who cornered these properties?
Our client insists that these imputations attributed to the Panel are outright falsehood. Our client states that these allegations never featured in the proceedings of the panel.
- GENERAL COMMENTS
The charges against our client are trumped-up allegations designed to tarnish his image and rubbish the credibility and image of EFCC which has been Stellar and outstanding under our client’s watch.
Based on the above circumstances, our client was not given adequate time and facilities for his defence and his demand for a copy of the allegations against him has not been honoured till date.
We appeal to the Honourable Panel to consider the above and uphold the Fundamental Rights to fair hearing of our client.
Kindly find attached, copies of these newspapers for ease of reference.
Please accept our best Professional Regards.
Wahab Shittu (Esq)
WK SHITTU & CO