In response to the query President Muhammadu Buhari ordered, the embattled acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, questioned the sincerity and motive of the State Security Service, SSS, which accused him of integrity deficiency and professional misconduct, official correspondence showed.
The SSS’ allegations blocked Mr. Magu’s confirmation as the substantive chairman of the EFCC, twice, as the agency repeatedly advised the Senate to reject his nomination because “MAGU has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”
After the Senate first rejected Mr. Magu’s nomination by Mr. Buhari in December 2016, citing the allegations made against the nominee by the SSS, the President authorised the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to investigate the validity of the allegationsIn compliance, Mr. Malami on December 19 asked Mr. Magu to “respond within 48 hours” to the SSS’ allegations.
In his response, on December 21, Mr. Magu said he considered all the issues raised against him and provided “point-by-point response.”
MISSING FILES AND DISMISSAL FROM EFCC
Mr. Magu admitted official documents relating to cases under investigation were found in his private home when raided “on the order of Mrs. Farida Waziri when she succeeded Mallam Nuhu Ribadu as the chairman of the EFCC.”
But in defence, he said at the time, he had not formally handed over to Umar Sanda, his successor as head of Economic Governance Unit; and carrying out his duty at the time was impossible without working from home“The documents found in my house were actually found in my office bag where I kept documents relating to investigations,” he said. “I was in the process of handing over and it would be wrong to suggest that I wilfully kept the Commission’s files at home.”
Following the matter, Mr. Magu was placed on suspension without pay for 20 months during which the police was carrying out investigation, he said.
“But in the end, I was reprimanded, recalled and promoted to Assistant Commissioner of Police.”
He continued: “It is important sir, to draw your attention to the fact that some of us that worked closely with Ribadu were victimised after his exit. And my ordeal was orchestrated as punishment for being the chief investigative officer for most of the high profile cases involving politically exposed persons some of whom became very influential in government at the time.”
Mr. Magu later returned to the EFCC upon the exit of Mrs. Waziri. But the SSS said his “close working relationship” with and how he was brought back by Ibrahim Lamorde, Mrs. Waziri’s successor, indicated “his culpability in the allegations of corrupt tendencies of LAMORDE led EFCC.”
Replying, Mr. Magu said it was “preposterous” for the SSS to allege he was recalled, in 2012 when he was serving in the Anambra police command, to do hatchet job for Mr. Lamorde.
“My job schedule as Deputy Director, Department of Internal Affairs, under Lamorde, was simply handling issues of professional responsibility in the Commission. I had no inputs in core operations duties of the Commission,” said Mr. Magu.
HOUSE RENT, EXTRAVAGANCE, CONTROVERSIAL TIES
Contrary to the claim by the SSS that the residence Mr. Magu currently occupies was rented for him by “a questionable business man” at N40 million for two years, with another N43 million to “lavishly furnish” the apartment, the acting EFCC boss said, “The entire cost for both two-year rent and the furnishing of the house is N39.628million.
“Details of the transaction are contained in the contract award letter and payment schedule which are attached to this letter.”
The SSS had claimed the house was gotten from Mohammed Umar, a retired air commodore, now being tried for money laundering and illegal possession of firearms, Mr. Magu denied “penchant for air travels” in private jet belonging to Mr. Umar, but admitted he had flown the said aircraft on two occasions: one, offer of ride from Kano to Abuja after an official assignment with two EFCC directors; two, when he was traveling to Maiduguri to see his sick mother.
“These, for me, were harmless gesture as we were both members of the presidential investigative committee on arms procurement. At the time I had no knowledge that he was under investigation for any alleged crimes,” he said.
He also denied he flew with the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonwko, who is under investigation by the EFCC, to Maiduguri in Mr. Umar’s private jet, stressing he had never flown in a private aircraft with any bank chief.
Further debunking claims he is flamboyant, he said in one instance he flew on a first class ticket with Emirate Airline to perform the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia, but argued that was not enough for the SSS to conclude he keeps extravagant lifestyle.
Moreover, he said he opted for first class because tickets for other classes had been sold out at the time, and that he funded the trip from his private pocket.
He did not disclose the cost of the trip for the pilgrimage, but SSS said it was N2,990,196 (about N3 million).
He said his relationship with Mr. Umar had been one of “professional acquaintance devoid of issues of conflict of interest” since their paths crossed when they became members of arms procurement probe panel.
He said: “The claim that EFCC documents, including EFCC letters addressed to the Vice President and being investigation reports on the activities of Emmanuel Kachikwu and his brother Demebi Kachikwu, were found in his home during a search by the DSS came to me as a surprise.
“If that is correct, he should be made to disclose how he came by such documents. I never discussed my official duties with him let alone give him documents pertaining to investigations being conducted by the Commission.”
RELUCTANCE TO ARRAIGN FORMER AIR CHIEF AMOSU
“Indeed, among the suspects arrested over the arms procurement scandal, he (Adesola Amosu) was most cooperative. The Commission recovered N2.835billion cash from him, aside from property worth One Billion Five Hundred and Eighty-One Million Naira (N1,581, 000, 000), Two Million One Hundred and Fifty Thousand United States Dollars ($2,150, 000) and One Million Pounds Sterling (£1, 000, 000),” said Mr. Magu, explaining that Mr. Amosu’s arraignment was delayed because he cooperated with the EFCC in the process of recovery of proceeds of crime.
Since a key focus of the investigation was to recover as much proceeds of crime as possible, Mr. Magu added, the EFCC took its time to ensure it had recovered what was possible before arraigning the suspect in court.
“This had nothing to do with the wish of any individual.”