‘Malami scuttling Buhari’s anti-graft gains’ – Odekunle spits fire, Magu still detained
NEWSMAN, Abuja – A top member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) and renowned Sociologist, Professor Femi Odekunle has accused Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami of plans to scuttle the anti-corruption agenda of the current administration through the “alleged ‘arrest’ of Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”.
Odekunle in a statement in Abuja late Monday on the intrigues surrounding Magu’s invitation to face the Justice Ayo Salami presidential panel probing Magu pointed fingers at Malami for fronting a cabal that is instigating the entire crisis to undermine the acting EFCC chairman and replace him. Malami had recently been reported to have forwarded three names to President Buhari for replacement of Magu.
“Malami has not manifested any genuine commitment to the anti-corruption fight. Samplers: The nolle- prosequi entered in a case of corruption against Orubebe in relation to alleged malfeasance while Minister of Niger Delta Ministry; his secret meeting with fugitive Maina in Dubai under whatever guise/ excuse; his involvement in the surreptitious reinjection of the same Maina into the Civil Service; his supervision of Obono-Oblas’ kangaroo Asset Recovery outfit which Obono subsequently ran out of the country when exposed by some ICPC investigation; his non-due attention, by design or default, to the P&ID matter since 2015 until it was blown open by humongous financial damage to the country; etc”, Malami said.
Although PACAC in an official statement signed by its Communications Officer, Aghogho Agbahor distanced itself from Odekunle’s statement by describing it as the “personal opinion of the member under whose name it was released and not that of the committee”, nonetheless many Nigerians especially on social media have described Odekunle’s intervention as the reality.
“If the committee consistent with its mandate has any view on the matter, it will be channelled to the President and not to the media”, Agbahor said.
Social commentators agree with the Professor that Malami cannot recuse himself from the alleged malfeasance that he is accusing Magu about noting that the entire exercise was becoming a powerplay that may rob the Buhari government of its remaining goodwill before Nigerians.
Read Prof. Odekunle’s full statement below:
PRESS RELEASE BY PROFESSOR FEMI ODEKUNLE, MEMBER, PRESIDENTIAL ADVISORY COMMITTEE AGAINST CORRUPTION (PACAC) ON “ARREST” OF EFCC ACTING CHAIRMAN, IBRAHIM MAGU
This is a preliminary reaction of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) to the alleged ‘arrest’ of Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Of course, the real information reaching us is that he was only invited to appear before a Panel set up not long ago concerning some alleged memo by Malami, Attorney General and Minister of justice, regarding some alleged malfeasance by Magu, along with nominations for his replacement.
It was just that those sent to invite him for whatever reasons best known to them invited some press along and made it look an arrest. That mischief has been confirmed by some apparent afterthought denial by the DSS that it was not an arrest.
While PACAC has not had a formal meeting on this development, I have discussed with the Chairman and some other members and the following can be considered as PACAC’s preliminary reaction to this development.
1.The alleged originating Malami memo, up to the current “arrest “ seems an outcome of power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power in which Malami appears to be an arrow-head or major agent of a power bloc that is not really interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
i. One can recall the earlier non-confirmation experience of Magu by the 8th Assembly, orchestrated by a power bloc and supported by the DSS ‘Security’ reports.
ii. One can also note the non-resubmission of Magu for confirmation since May, 2019 despite the apparent willingness of the 9th Assembly to consider it this time around.
iii. Furthermore, one must take cognisance of the alleged memo referred to earlier i.e by Malami concerning alleged corrupt practices by Magu, along with his own nominations for Magu’s replacement.
iv. Again, we cannot forget Malami’s demand of certain high profile case files from Magu which the latter has been resisting.
The position of PACAC is that while Magu, or any official of whatever status, must be nailed if found to be corrupt, the President must be careful not to shoot its anti-corruption fight /modest achievements in the foot, and not to forget that EFCC under Magu has been the Administration’s anti-corruption poster-face.
It may not be contestable that Malami has been exploiting his alleged loyalty and closeness to the President for his personal /power bloc agenda.
For, to the best of PACAC’s knowledge and observations, Malami has not manifested any genuine commitment to the anti-corruption fight. Samplers: The nolle- prosequi entered in a case of corruption against Orubebe in relation to alleged malfeasance while Minister of Niger Delta Ministry; his secret meeting with fugitive Maina in Dubai under whatever guise/ excuse; his involvement in the surreptitious reinjection of the same Maina into the Civil Service; his supervision of Obono-Oblas’ kangaroo Asset Recovery outfit which Obono subsequently ran out of the country when exposed by some ICPC investigation; his non-due attention, by design or default, to the P&ID matter since 2015 until it was blown open by humongous financial damage to the country; etc.
Notwithstanding the situation at hand, the hope of PACAC is that the President would wake up to the ongoing shenanigans of power players that are working from the inside against his anti-corruption fight. We are also counting on the experience and dexterity of the new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari whose loyalty to the President and good of the country cannot be doubted, and we also hope that the demonstrated integrity of retired Justice Salami would carry the day for thoroughness, fairness and justice in the interest of the anti-corruption fight.
Prof. Femi Odekunle,
– Allegations against Magu –
The allegations against Magu on hs tnure as Acting Chairman of the EFCC as alleged by Justice Minister Malami include:
•Alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds
•Declaration of N539b as recovered funds instead of N504b earlier claimed
•Insubordination to the Office of the AGF
•Not providing enough evidences for the extradition of Diezani Alison-Madueke
•Alleged late action on the investigation of P&ID leading to legal dispute
•Not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7b judgment in favour of a former executive director of a bank
•Alleged delay in acting on two vessels seized by Navy
•Alleged favouring of some investigators called Magu Boys
•Reporting some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF
•Alleged sale of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends
•Alleged issuance of investigative activities to some media prejudicial to some cases
Magu was whisked away from the Presidential Villa, where he was interrogated to the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) at about 10.15pm shortly after the investigative panel ended its sitting, The Nation reported.
His escort mobile policemen and security detail were stood down before he was taken into custody.
It was learnt that shortly after emerging from the sitting, Magu was led into a waiting white Hilux van marked 371D.
Magu insisted on sitting in the open space at the back of the Hilux.
The police team persuaded him to sit in the first cabin.
The ding-doing over his relocation to the FCID lasted about 25 minutes.
Magu was later allowed to go to the FCID in his official car.
A source told The Nation: “In the light of the ongoing investigation, it became expedient to detain Magu at the FCID. We do not want him to return to the office while he is being questioned, because he is likely to have another session with the Justice Salami panel.”
It was also learnt last night that Magu might be suspended from office.
“By not allowing him to go back to his office was an indication that he might be suspended.
“It is obvious that the Presidency has concluded plans to look for a new candidate for the office,” the source said.
At the FCID around 10.50pm, Magu rejected an offer to take him into an office to stay the night.
He told the officers in charge to treat him like a suspect by putting him in a cell.
Sitting on a chair, he said: “I won’t go and sleep in any office, I prefer to be in a cell. Kindly put me in a cell. That is what Allah wants for me. I can’t question God.”
There was drama to Magu’s invitation earlier in the day. He was intercepted on the road along Fomella Street while moving out of the Wuse II office Annex of the EFCC in Abuja.
Invitation was then extended to him by a Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP) from the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID).
The CSP’s vehicle had a backup comprising a three-man security team, who closely watched the encounter.
Magu was on his way to the Force Headquarters. He pleaded with the officer to allow him to honour the scheduled appointment.
But he was told the invitation by the panel was superior to his appointment.
At about 1.35pm, Magu arrived at the Villa.
The EFCC chairman, who went to the Villa with his full escort and security detail, was not arrested or molested.
While the session lasted, Magu had unfettered access to his mobile phones.
The panel was also polite as he was allowed to pray and given a free lunch.
A source, who spoke in confidence with our correspondent, said: “The CSP was polite. He even allowed Magu to speak with an officer in the FCID to ensure that the invitation was genuine.
“Instead of going to the Force Headquarters, Magu called his lawyer, Mr. Rotimi Oyedepo, and headed for the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.”
The travails of the EFCC chairman started on Sunday night when a source, suspected to be a former EFCC official, posted on Facebook that “next week, Monday-Friday are black days to (sic) Mr. EFCC.”
The facebook post confirmed intelligence at Magu’s disposal that he might be arrested or prosecuted.
Another source added: “With the post on Facebook, Magu already had a mindset that yesterday might be rough.
“And true to his prediction, he got the invitation to appear before the panel.”
A top source said: “Magu and his officers had spent the last two weeks looking at all the allegations and compiled appropriate responses to them with documents.
“It is the compendium of evidence that he took to the panel to prove his innocence. Whatever you may accuse Magu of, it is not corruption or self-enrichment.
“All those who have worked with Magu know him for his incorruptibility. He is also a hardliner who stepped on many toes. It is good that a panel is looking into the allegations.
“Take the case of sales of assets, Magu never sold any assets since he came into office. Instead, the seized properties were allocated for use by government agencies.
“The P&ID matter preceded Magu in office because the judgment debt was during the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan. Magu only investigated the criminal aspect instead of supporting Settlement Agreement. And he gave the case all his strength to get the best for the nation.
“At the appropriate time, the details of what Magu did in office and what really transpired before the panel will be known to Nigerians for posterity”, the source told The Nation.
As the intrigues unfold, Nigerians await the work of the investigative panel set to unravel the truth about Malami’s allegations against Magu. Meanwhile, the embattled acting chairman of EFCC spent the night in police custody on the orders of the Salami-led presidential panel probing the alleged infractions against him.