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ICYMI: SPECIAL REPORT: Unforgettable timelines in the battle to sack EFCC boss, Magu

As Magu maintains defiance against House over Mrs Jonathan, Reps order his arrest

The nation’s media space was agog Monday with the reported arrest of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, by the Department of State Services (DSS).

Though the DSS has since denied arresting Magu, just as another piece of report indicated that he was only facing a presidential panel, the way and manner his invitation to the panel took place speaks volume, underscoring the various controversies that have trailed his tenure as the helmsman of the anti-corruption agency.

According to reports, operatives of the DSS had accosted Magu while he was about driving out of the Wuse II Abuja annex office of the EFCC, informing him of an invitation to the panel. Efforts made by security details to thwart what was seen by many as his arrest could not save the anti-graft czar from being whisked away.

For keen followers of the chequered tenure of Magu as the EFCC helmsman, the new turn of events may not come as a surprise as Magu’s tenure has continued to generate controversies.

From open spat with top government officials, including ministers, heads of arms of government and the refusal of the National Assembly to confirm his appointment as the substantive chairman of the EFCC, Magu has been in the face of the storm.

Ripples Nigeria presents some events that have defined his tenure and some pointers to the fact that a day like this has long been in sight.

December 15, 2016

The Senate, which is saddled with the power to confirm nominees by the President, on this day rejected the nomination of Magu as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC.

The reports reads:

The Senate, on Thursday, rejected the confirmation of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

Ripples Nigeria had earlier exclusively reported that out of anxiety, Magu had recruited Ali Ndume to intensify lobby of lawmakers who can sway the pendulum in his favour.

The report also noted that senators were in possession of a damning report from the Department of State Services (DSS).

Also earlier, before the screening exercise, Ndume, obviously in defence of Magu had engaged his colleague from Kogi State, Dino Melaye, in war of words over the confirmation hearing of Magu.

Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, who briefed National Assembly correspondents, confirmed Ripples Nigeria report that the rejection of Magu was based on ‎a ‘worrisome’ security report, made available to lawmakers by the Department of State Services (DSS).

March 15, 2017

After the initial rejection of Ibrahim Magu as the EFCC chairman, President Muhammadu Buhari, again, re-presented him for confirmation by the Senate. He was however again, rejected on March 15, 2017.

The report reads:

The Senate has again rejected the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Magu was first rejected on the 15th of December, 2016 based on a report submitted to the Senate by the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Lawal Daura.

This was the second time the Senate was rejecting Magu since he was appointed in an acting capacity since November 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The rejection followed a heated questions and answers session between Senators and Magu. The question and answer session was part of the confirmation process for Magu.

Magu was grilled on issues of human rights abuses, abuse of court processes and judgments, as well as loss of human lives in EFCC cells.

Magu responded to questions on a report of the Department of State Services (DSS) which claimed that he corruptly enriched himself since he joined the commission in 2004.

He also dispelled claims that he accepted to stay in a house rented for him by a former Air Force officer who is currently facing corruption trial in one of the courts in the country.

The second rejection of Magu was based on another report from the DSS which maintained the same position that he would constitute a problem to the ongoing anti-corruption fight.

Announcing the rejection after an hour 30 minutes grilling by the Senate, lawmakers claimed that another report from the DSS again indicted Magu.

In the letter signed by an operative of DSS, one F.O. Adams on behalf of the Director-General, the Service said the only difference between the old and the new report is the cover note.

In the cover note of the new report, sighted by Ripples Nigeria, the DSS boss reinstated his earlier position, saying that the Service was standing by its earlier claims.

“We want to reiterate our earlier position that we stand by our report, dated 3rd of October, 2016. Everything in the earlier document stands,” part of the cover note of the new report read.

March 25, 2017

In a move that may have been aimed at justifying the rejection of Magu, the office of the Attorney General of Federation confirmed the receipt of the damning report of the DSS on Magu.

Ripples Nigeria reported it as follows:

The office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) is now in possession of the Department of State Security (DSS) report that sealed the fate of Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Magu recently failed Nigerian Senate’s screening for confirmation of his appointment, having been renominated a second time by President Muhammadu Buhari after a failed previous effort.

Buhari, rejecting the initial DSS report and relying on the advice of the AGF, Abubakar Malami, had told the Senate that Magu was without any blemish that could stop him from picking up the strategic portfolio.

However, the DSS, in a report laden with 12 documents, laid the facts of Magu’s breaches of the trust of office before the AGF.

Signed by Folashade Bello, on behalf of the Director-General of the DSS, the report noted specifically that:

“This is a copy of the confessional statement of Air Commodore Mohammed Umar (retd.), a suspect hitherto detained and currently being prosecuted by the service.

“The statement confirms his ownership of Valcour SA Nigeria Limited, a company awarded the contract of securing and furnishing an official residence for Ibrahim Magu by the FCTA. Investigations revealed that this was facilitated after Magu was earlier shown the residence by one Uche Aleka, a close business associate of Umar who was introduced to Magu by the former.”

Alleging that Magu was in the habit of sharing top secret documents with the said Umar, the report added, “This is a copy of progress report with reference number SH/COS/24/A/7277 dated 25th May, 2016 on NNPC/NLG Brass Investments Accounts in Nigeria commercial banks from Chief of Staff to the President, Mr. Abba Kyari, to the acting Chairman of the EFCC chairman. The letter is an official/classified document of the EFCC, which was duly received by the commission as indicated by the stamp on the document. However, it was recovered at Umar’s residence.”

It concludes, “It has exposed Magu as a fraudulent officer and betrays the high confidence reposed in him by the President.”

March 25, 2017

Basking in the euphoria of denying Magu a confirmation, the Senate, through its then spokesman, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdulahi, released a statement, saying the upper chamber of the National Assembly had been justified.

Here is the report:

The Senate says it’s position on EFCC’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, and why it refused to confirm his appointment has been justified.

Spokesman of the Senate, Dr. Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi has stated that the leaked report of the Directorate of State Security (DSS) sent to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN, on the integrity of Mr. Ibrahim Magu has vindicated the decision of the legislative chamber to reject his nomination as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In a statement he signed Saturday in Abuja, Abdullahi stated that: “Following several calls made to me today by journalists seeking my comments on the leak report on Mr. Ibrahim Magu which was more damning than the one submitted to us, I can only say that myself and my colleagues have been vindicated.

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“From that report which is now public, it is obvious the DG SSS even tried to give Magu soft landing in the report that was sent to the Senate. The recent report is messier and shows that our decision not to confirm his nomination was right.

“We therefore call on all Nigerians to continue to have full confidence and trust on the Nigerian Senate as it discharges its responsibilities according to the letter and spirit of the Nigerian constitution”, he stated.

August 24, 2017

Magu’s problems was not just with the Senate, as he has had a number of spats with the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, who is supposed to be his supervising minister.

Malami on this date accused Magu of playing ignoble roles that led to the suspension of Nigeria from the Egmont Group.

Below is the report:

The feud between the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, took a new turn for the worse as the AGF on Wednesday alleged that Magu’s “ignoble role” was what led to the suspension of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) from the Egmont Group.

In a statement by his spokesperson, Malami alleged that Magu had frustrated efforts geared towards making the NFIU independent of the EFCC as required by the global body of financial intelligence units.

It will be recalled that following Nigeria’s suspension from the Egmont Group earlier in the year owing to what the group cited as lack of independence of the NFIU owing to perceived undue interference largely from the EFCC, the Senate hurriedly passed the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Agency bill which will grant full autonomy to the body, separating it from the EFCC.

The EFCC had criticized the move, interpreting it as a calculated effort to limit its powers, a position shared by some civil society groups but one which is opposed by the AGF’s office. The AGF had praised the move as a wise and timely intervention by the lawmakers.

This development is coming as Magu and Malami are still locked in bitter disagreement over non-release of requested corruption case files. Magu had despite repeated requests by the AGF declined to send over case files resulting in heated public exchanges, a situation which some say merely reflects a deeper issue.

Many will read these new comments by the AGF as further confirmation of his widely speculated long-held sentiments against the EFCC boss, and perhaps the clearest sign yet of a festering long-drawn fundamental disagreement.

In the statement, Malami observed that “the threat of expulsion from the Egmont Group” that might follow the suspension, “calls for a thorough review of the NFIU.”

He added that it also warranted a review of “the manner in which the EFCC leadership has manipulated and misused intelligence to the detriment of the fight against corruption and financial crimes in Nigeria.”

The AGF narrated different instances where Magu had frustrated bills sent by his office aimed at enhancing the anti-corruption fight and making the NFIU independent.

The statement which was titled, ‘EFCC ignoble role that led to Nigeria’s Egmont suspension’, stated in part as follows:
“…It is a sad tale to tell how the Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu-led EFCC has frustrated these efforts and even had to resort to blackmail in some instances oftentimes, alleging that the AGF and the ministry were all out to impede the government’s anti-corruption drive. Magu and other EFCC officials; and atimes through online publications; had at one time or the other accused the minister of trying to compromise the war.

“They have always perceived the Office of the AGF as a threat instead of addressing the issues related to the best strategy to fight corruption advocated by the AGF.

“For instance, during the House of Representatives Committee review session on 18th April, 2017, Magu vehemently rejected the new Money Laundering (Prevention and Prohibition Bill 2016 submitted by the President; which according to him, as reported by some national dailies; might prejudice President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption agenda. He even went on his whimsical best by surmising that passing the bill into law now will affect Nigeria’s application for the membership of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). What parody!

“In likewise, the EFCC is now in a state of paranoia, as it dreads the effort of the government to have an independent NFIU which it has stood against stoically since 2006.

“As it presently stands, the NFIU members of staff are all deployed by the EFCC to serve in the interest of whoever is its current chairman.

“This has to stop if it must conform to the new thinking and global best practices. Nigeria cannot be an island of its own.”

It noted that the EFCC “cannot fight corruption in isolation.”

February 9, 2018

Malami was not the only minister that had disagreements with Magu or queried his work at the EFCC.

A former Minister of Finance, Kemi Adeosun had queried Magu on the figures the EFCC had been quoting in the media as monies recovered by it.

In a February 9, 2018 letter, Adeosun wrote to Magu: “This is to notify you of the records of cash asset recoveries in the custody of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from May 2015 till date based on information available to the office of the Accountant General of the Federation (attached),” the letter read.

“It has, however, come to the notice of the ministry of finance, the use of recovery figures in media reports by the EFCC that do not reconcile with the records of the ministry.

“You are, therefore, kindly requested to clarify where these cash recoveries have been deposited and provide accompanying evidence.”

June 19, 2020

In what many say may have been the final onslaught against Magu that led to the events of today, July 6, 2020, the Attorney General, Malami, in a damning report, accused Magu of several infractions, 22 in number, emphatically recommending his sack to President Muhammadu Buhari, who has solidly insisted on Magu’s stay in office.

Here is the report:

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, has written to President Muhammadu Buhari to have the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Ibrahim Magu relieved of his office.

The AGF listed 22 offences allegedly committed by Magu, for which he should be sacked.

Magu has been in acting capacity since the National Assembly twice refused to confirm his nomination to head the anti-graft agency after the president sent his name to the federal lawmakers on both ocassions.

The AGF, among other things, accused Magu of insurbordination, and discrepancies in the figures of funds reportedly recovered by the EFCC.

He was also accused of disposing of assets, especially buildings seized from corrupt politicians and others, without approval, or knowledge of the AGF’s office, which is the supervisory ministry of the EFCC.

Although the EFCC boss is said to have supporters at the presidency, who have been speaking in his defence and giving reasons why he should not be sacked, there are feelers that the president may be forced to act on Malami’s complaints, and set up a body to look into the allegations against Magu.

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About the author

Timothy Enietan-Matthews

Timothy is a versatile journalist, down to earth with a critical and curious mind.

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