The Presidential Investigative Committee on activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been granted judicial powers, it was learnt at the weekend.
Chairman of the panel Justice Isa Ayo Salami, a former president of the Court of Appeal, and his members will operate in line with Section 1 of the Tribunals Inquiry Act (CAP T21,LFN, 2004).
The panel has also been mandated to conduct public sittings. It has so far been sitting in camera at the Presidential Villa in Abuja.
Its report is expected to be submitted 45 days after its first public sitting, it was gathered.
The panel has been examining activities of the EFCC under the stewardship of suspended Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu between 2015 and 2020.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry can sit in Abuja or other places and upon such dates as the chairman may determine.
Among other things, the panel is charged with probing high profile local and international cases, including that involving Diezani Alison Madueke and others; the $9.6billion judgment against Nigeria by Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) and complaints by the UK National Crime Agency (NCA) in London.
Other areas of focus are the alleged non-compliance with presidential and ministerial directives; non-compliance with court orders; and non-compliance with procurement and financial management laws.
Also, a key area of the probe is the mandate to audit the assets and finances of the EFCC as a legal entity between 2015 and 2020.
The Salami Panel is expected to do the following:
* Investigate, verify, and review the recommendations of the presidential committee on Audit of recovered assets as it relates to the EFCC, with a view to ascertaining the complicity or otherwise of Ag. Chairman Ibrahim Magu in the mismanagement of the assets recovered by the commission;
* Identify the avenue through which the recovered assets are dissipated and seized, recovered, forfeited (interim and final) assets are valued, managed, disposed or mismanaged with a view to ascertaining compliance or otherwise with extant laws, regulations, processes and procedures;
* Review the existing procedures on the management of the seized, recovered and forfeited assets (interim and final) and proffer standard operational procedures for the management of seized, recovered and forfeited assets;
* To determine whether movable or immovable assets including funds or cash recovered during his tenure, whether locally in Nigeria or abroad are being kept safely in a manner, as to preserve their original value;
(i) Identify the location of all movable or immovable assets, funds or cash that are under interim or final forfeiture based on administrative or orders of the courts; and
(ii) Identify the bank accounts to which recovered funds or cash were paid into and whether generated interest from the recovered funds or cash was properly accounted for.
Whether all the assets could be properly accounted for by the Ag. Chairman and take measures to – (i) confirm, if any, of the assets has been diverted to the benefit of the Ag. Chairman, his family, relation, friends or favoured staff; and (ii)recover any of such diverted assets, funds or cash, if any and recommend, if the fund should be returned back to the EFCC or appropriate government agency, entities or individuals.
Another source claimed that the panel has been directed to investigate alleged abuse of office and non-compliance with official directives
The source added: “Salami and his team will also find out if there were alleged cases of the existence or otherwise of dereliction of duty and abuse of processes and procedure against the Ag. Chairman.
“The essence of the audit is to determine whether or not there was compliance with procurement procedures of the EFCC in line with the provision of the Procurement Act.
“The panel will look into allegations of personal enrichment with the assets recovered; corruption and money laundering allegations involving the Ag. Chairman and Bureau De Change operators, as well as some of his associates; as per the intelligence reports and petitions.
“In line with international best practices, the panel is to make “appropriate recommendations concerning each person, authority and organisation investigated by the judicial commission and what judicial or administrative measures, if any, should be taken to recover all misappropriated funds and assets.”
It was learnt that a former Secretary to EFFC, Emmanuel Adegboyega Aremo, appeared before the panel and declared that for the five years and three months between 2013 and 2018, when he was in office, no asset was sold and that he never participated in the sale of any forfeited property. He reportedly declared that only a property was released to the Voice of Nigeria (VON) and the agency paid rent to the Commission.