Monday, 15 August 2022 15:09

EXCLUSIVE: Magu abandoned N118bn fraud cases, failed to remit N48bn loot - Salami panel

The presidential panel that probed Ibrahim Magu says 14 fraud cases involving N118 billion and $309 million were abandoned by the former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

In the final report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari in November 2020, the EFCC, under Magu’s watch, was also accused of not remitting another N48 billion loot recovered in foreign and local currencies, TheCable can report.

The panel headed by Ayo Salami, former president of the court of appeal, was set up to probe the EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020 when Magu was in charge of the agency.

TheCable understands that the report has now been submitted to the office of the secretary to the government of the federation.

A panel to produce the white paper will soon be set up, presidency sources informed TheCable.

The former EFCC boss was alleged to have mishandled the recovered loot and sold seized assets to his associates.

Wahab Shittu, Magu’s lawyer, declined to comment on the report when contacted by TheCable “because I cannot talk on a report I have not seen”.

The report reviewed both written and oral testimonies of over 100 witnesses, having overtaken nationwide physical verification of recovered forfeited assets, comprising real estate, automobiles, vessels and other non-cash as well as cash assets.

The review of the report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) appeared to show that the anti-graft commission gave contradictory figures on the total number of recovered real estate.

“The EFCC under the watch of the suspended Ag. Chairman in its submission to PCARA reported N46,038,882,509.87 as being the foreign currency equivalent recovered by the commission between May 29, 2015, and November 22, 2018,” the report stated.

“The EFCC, however, only produced evidence of lodgements of thirty-seven billion, five hundred and thirty-three million, seven hundred and sixty-four thousand, one hundred and ninety-five naira, sixty-six kobo (N37,533,764,195.66), leaving a shortfall of eight billion, five hundred and five million, one hundred and eighteen thousand, three hundred and fourteen naira, twenty-one kobo (N8,505,118,314.21).

“The EFCC reported to PCARA a total naira recovery of five and four billion, one hundred and fifty-four million, one hundred and eighty-four thousand, seven hundred and forty-four naira, four kobo (N504,154,184,744.04); the actual bank lodgement of the naira recoveries was, however, five hundred and forty-three billion, five hundred and eleven million, seven hundred and ninety-two thousand, eight hundred and sixty-three naira, forty-seven kobo (N543,511.792,863.47).

“That EFCC failed to produce before PCARA the evidence/record of the difference of thirty-nine billion, three hundred and fifty-seven million, six hundred and eight thousand, one hundred and nineteen naira, forty-three kobo (N39,357,608,119.43).

“The EFCC, in its returns on non-cash assets, made to the president on April 7, 2017, declared 836 as the total number of recovered real estates, while in its first and second returns to PCARA, it rendered contradictory figures of 339 on 13/12/2017, leaving a difference of 497 and 504 on 9/3/2018, with a difference of 332.”

In addition, the panel alleged that Magu abandoned multi-million dollar fraud cases involving high-profile individuals and transferred some officials of the commission investigating the cases.


He was also accused of disobeying court orders and presidential directives.

“Between 2016 and 2019, fourteen (14) procurement fraud cases involving N117,972,209,035 and $309,151,419 were abandoned under Mr Ibrahim Magu’s watch,” the judicial commission said.

“The commission observed from its findings that prosecutorial decisions by Ibrahim Magu on case files were based on his personal whims, as against the law and facts. The commission also notes the prevalence of widespread corruption, abuse of power and pervasive impunity in the running of the EFCC.”

JETS MISSING, HOTELS UNACCOUNTED FOR

The panel also said records of forfeited assets were poorly kept by the commission.

Under Magu’s watch, the panel stated, eight plazas were seized by EFCC but the commission reported no forfeiture of the plazas.

In addition, three jets were listed in interim forfeiture, but the panel could not trace them; 21 hotels were reported to have been forfeited on an interim order, but only eight were found; 42 fuel stations were reported to have been forfeited on an interim order, only eight could be verified.

According to the report, the vessels seized by the commission were neglected and they sank in the sea with a substantial quantity of petroleum products.

“In 2016, Magu halted the process of disposing of two finally forfeited vessels, MT Good Success with 1,459 metric tons of PMS; and MT Askaris with 3,423,097 metric tons of crude…the cargoes eventually sank…Magu also asked the navy to release two vessels conveying illegally refined AGO to their owners,” the panel said.

“Thirteen water vehicles (vessels) handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy, out of a total number of 154 vessels, have submerged (sunk) with tons of contents.

“The submissions made by the EFCC before the commission shows that, from inception to date, the total number of non-cash assets recovered under final forfeiture was 3133. The analysis of the recoveries shows that some of the assets were disposed of, forfeited to a third party or negligently lost. The commission conducted physical verification of recovered assets across the country from 1st-27th October 2020. The outcome of the exercise was revealing as some of the forfeited assets have been lost, deteriorated, physically possessed by the suspects, or could not be traced and in some instances remain in occupation years after their final forfeiture.

“The EFCC reported disposal of 275 real estate, the judicial commission only confirmed 76 disposal.”

THE EXIT OF MAGU

In July 2020, while Magu was the acting chairman of the EFCC, he was arrested, detained and suspended.

He appeared before the Salami-led panel probing allegations of gross misconduct against him.

Magu was further accused of suppressing high-profile cases involving four former governors, one of whom is currently a senator.

TheCable had reported that the panel recommended Magu’s sacking and prosecution over allegations of corruption and abuse of office.

The panel further recommended that Magu should be referred to the inspector-general of police (IGP) for “necessary disciplinary action”, and that he should be prosecuted for the alleged offences.

It has been almost two years since the panel submitted its report, but most of its recommendations are yet to be implemented. Instead, Magu was promoted to the rank of assistant inspector-general (AIG) by the Police Service Commission (PSC) a few weeks before he retired, despite the indictment.

In May, Muhammad Dingyadi, minister of police affairs, said the report of the panel on Magu was still under consideration and the former EFCC boss can still be prosecuted if found guilty despite his retirement.

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