Magu quizzed over ‘security vote’ as panel battles internal cracks

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Ahead of the expected submission of its final report this week, the Ayo Salami probe panel is battling internal divisions over the inquiry into Ibrahim Magu’s stewardship at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), sources in the know have informed TheCable.

Some members of the panel are not in agreement with Salami’s leadership style and one of them confronted him over the detention of Magu, TheCable learnt.

It has also emerged that the suspended acting EFCC chairman was quizzed over allegations that he increased the monthly security vote for his office from N2 million to N10 million “without due authorisation”.

He was said to have initially increased it to N5 million before raising it to N10 million without approval as the agency did not have a board.

Magu’s explanation that the security vote was for “intelligence gathering” did not go down well with some panel members.

He is also accused of giving out a forfeited asset in Maitama, Abuja, to the widow of Mohammed Shuwa, the late retired major-general, without “due authorisation”.

Magu was further accused of giving out a forfeited asset to Lagos state government to be used as an isolation centre.

In his defence, Magu said he got approvals from President Muhammadu Buhari for the assets allocated without charge to Shuwa’s widow and Lagos state government.

Magu informed the panel that Buhari had told him that two men were instrumental to his military career — Shuwa, who commanded the army’s 1 Division during the civil war, and TY Danjuma, a retired lieutenant general who was chief of army staff from 1976-79.

He said Buhari instructed him in writing to give a forfeited property to the widow of Shuwa, who was killed by suspected Boko Haram militants 2012.

However, he was unable to produce a copy of the approval as demanded by the tribunal, TheCable was told.

He reportedly said a copy was taken away from his house by a police search team after his arrest and the original in his file at the EFCC has gone missing.

However, an EFCC source told TheCable that because Magu did not want anything that would embarrass the president, he did not want to push the Shuwa case “too far”.

“They didn’t say he appropriated the house to himself or his family. They said he gave the widow of one of Nigeria’s foremost war heroes. That is hardly a smoking gun,” the source said.

The source also told TheCable that the property that was given to Lagos state government for use as isolation centre was officially approved.

“The property in question was forfeited to the EFCC. There are official documents allocating the property to Lagos state. They didn’t say he gave the house to himself or his family members. They said he gave it to a state government. The property was handed over openly, with media coverage. There was nothing secretive or sinister about it,” he said.

TheCable learnt that at least two members of the judicial commission of enquiry have disagreed with the chairman over some of the activities around the probe.

The crisis of confidence reached a turning point when Salami, the chairman, and Anthony Ogbizi Michael, a deputy inspector general of police and deputy chairman, openly disagreed over who ordered the detention of Magu after his arrest in July.

Magu was detained for 10 days after his arrest by a combined team of the Department of State Services (DSS) and officers from the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID).

Michael reportedly accused Salami of ordering the detention.

Salami was said to have fired back at him, saying “you are the one that ordered his detention”.

Michael, TheCable learnt, insisted that it was Salami that gave the order and declared that he was ready to face an inquiry over the matter.

Salami has also been engaged in exchanges with Magu’s lawyers and even issued a statement at a point to complain about media reports on the probe.

Although the enquiry has been going on for six months with several allegations being reported by the media based on the petition of Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation, to Buhari, Magu’s team is of the opinion that nothing incriminating has been found.

“All the allegations are crumbling one after the other,” one of the sources told TheCable.

“Malami openly boasted that he would testify before Salami but chickened out when it mattered. That is not surefootedness.”

The allegation that Emmanuel Omale, a pastor, bought property for Magu in Dubai is also proving difficult to substantiate, with FCMB admitting that a N573 million deposit traced to the clergyman’s account was in error. The bank has openly apologised to Omale.

Also, the allegation that the Shanono brothers used their BDCs to launder money for Magu was not proved as they insisted before the Salami panel that they did not have any financial transactions with the suspended EFCC chairman.

They were later said to have passed a polygraph test at the EFCC.

Claims that Magu diverted interest on the recovered N500 billion funds were denied by the accountant-general of the federation.

The office said recovered funds are paid into the TSA and do not attract interest.

“Magu was not allowed to call any witness during his defence,” another source told TheCable.

“This is not how justice is served. But it is gratifying that while all this was going on, the investigation done by Magu helped Nigeria secure a reprieve from a UK court in the P&ID case.”

Magu’s team is convinced that the panel is bent on indicting him, and reports that the final report was being written in Malami’s office are yet to be denied.

Members of the panel are: Salami, retired president of the court of appeal (north-central); Michael (south-south); Kazeem Attitebi (south-west), secretary; Muhammad Abubakar Babadoko, ministry of justice (north-central); Hassan Yahaya Abdullahi (DSS) (north-central); Muhammad Shamsudeen (north-west); and Douglas Egweme (NFIU) (south-east).

TheCable, meanwhile, understands that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) is preparing charges against Magu, a commissioner of police, over allegations of non-declaration of assets.

* Source: TheCable

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