FULL STATEMENT: I did not divert any recovered assets, Magu declares
The full statement of defence and the addendum presented to the Justice Ayo Salami panel by the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has surfaced.
Recall that the Justice Ayo Salami panel submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday, recommending the sack and prosecution of Magu as well as the appointment of a new chairman from outside the police force.
As at the time of reportage, the presidency has not made it known or indicated when the white paper will be made public.
In his reply to the allegations made against him by Abubakar Malami, the attorney-general of the federation, Magu reportedly maintained that he did not divert any recovered assets during his tenure as alleged.
Magu went into details of how recovered assets were managed “in line with the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004”.
EFCC’s recovery modality has come under the searchlight, with the federal government now proposing a different body to manage the assets.
As things stand, EFCC makes recovery directly to all victims of financial crimes — including state and local governments.
Private individuals, including foreign nationals, who were victims of fraudsters benefited from the recoveries, according to Magu.
Federal government institutions such as the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS), the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMFAC) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) also benefited from the recoveries, Magu added.
Because recoveries made to these entities do not pass through the dedicated recovery account but directly to the fraud victims, Magu maintained that any finding emerging from the content of the recovery account cannot be conclusive.
Magu contented that these recoveries, as well as the foreign exchange component which were paid into dedicated accounts at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), were not captured in the report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) that audited EFCC’s assets between 2015 and 2018.
EXCERPTS FROM MAGU’S REPLY
FINAL REPORT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMITTEE ON AUDIT OF RECOVERED ASSETS (PCARA): MISMANAGEMENT AND LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN MANAGING RECOVERED ASSETS
2.6 I unequivocally deny this allegation as same is untrue and merely calculated to tarnish my name, the Commission, and the giant strides this administration has achieved in the fight against corruption and recovery of proceeds of unlawful activities.
2.7 Gentlemen, contrary to the allegations contained in paragraph (A-5X) of the report, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
a) Not a dime of the recovered funds was converted to my personal use. I challenge my accuser to produce evidence of such fraudulent conversion.
b) It is the international best practices in audit to have an entry and exit meeting. During the exiting meeting, parties are expected to thoroughly review and reconcile documents/data to enable the auditee present necessary explanations to clear any grey area.
c) Contrary to the established international best practice and the principle of fair hearing as enshrined in Section 36 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Report of the PCARA and the documents analyzed before making the purported findings contained in Paragraph 5 of the petition were never made available to the Commission to respond and clarify.
d) That I was not invited by the Committee to defend myself and the Commission before the purported findings were made. That fair hearing demands that I should not be indicted without being heard.
MOVABLE AND IMMOVABLE ASSETS INCLUDING FUNDS AND CASH RECOVERED WERE PRESERVED IN THEIR ORIGINAL VALUE AND KEPT IN SAFE MANNER
e) The existing structure in the EFCC on the recovery of assets and the management of same will not allow any form of mismanagement of recovered assets to be perpetrated. In the Commission under my watch, funds are recovered vide bank drafts in favour of the Commission and lodged in the recovery accounts domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
f) Sirs, even when cash is recovered during execution of search warrant, such funds are meticulously counted, kept in the safe custody of the Exhibit Keeper and lodged in the recovery account.
g) I am not a signatory to these accounts and the funds therein. I have never approved a withdrawal from any of the Commission’s recovery accounts for my personal benefit.
h) There is no where I have reported the Naira equivalent of the foreign currency recoveries. As a matter of standard practice and procedure, the commission under my leadership reports foreign currency recoveries and not the Naira equivalent of same.
i) The commission under my leadership has never converted foreign currency recoveries to Naira.
j) The allegation in paragraph 5(ii) of the Report is untrue because I did not manipulate data of the Commission’s recoveries.
k) While I cannot confirm the source of the figures quoted in paragraph 5(ii) where the commission was alleged to have under reported the sum of N39,357,608,119.43, I am aware that by a letter dated the 24th March, 2017, Mr. President instructed me to forward the status of various recoveries the Commission made from May, 2015 till the date of the letter. Attached and marked Annexure 2 is a copy of the letter.
l) On receipt of the aforesaid letter, I promptly compiled a comprehensive list of the recoveries and forwarded same through a letter dated April 7, 2017. My letter of April 7, 2017 is attached and marked Annexure 3. My report to Mr. President was supported with relevant source documents.
m) The purported under-reported sum of N39,357,608,119.43 was admitted by the Petitioner to have been lodged in the recovery account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) which is not under my total dominion and control. This demonstrates the falsity of the accusation of diversion of forfeited assets wrongly leveled against me.
n) The Commission, in the exercise of its statutory duties, is empowered to make recoveries for the Federal Government, State Governments, private individuals and corporate bodies and as such not all funds in the recovery account belong to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
o) The period analyzed by the PCARA Report in paragraph 5 of the petition is not stated.
p) The figures reported by PCARA may not have taken note of third party recoveries that would have been transferred to the respective beneficiaries directly. Such direct beneficiaries include:
(i) Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS),
(ii) Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
(iii) Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
(iv) Nigerian Customs Service (NCS).
(v) Commercial Banks.
(vi) Other Corporate Organizations; and
q) The allegation in paragraph 5(iii) of the petition is vague and not supported by any particular instance, thus I am unable to respond with precision. However, it is trite that the figure standing to the credit of an account is susceptible to changes as a result of interest element and bank charges. The amount of money at the time the Commission obtains forfeiture order changes with time, either as a result of bank charges or inflows into the account after the interim order was made. It can therefore not be expected that the amount stated in the application before the order of Interim forfeiture is made will remain static.
r) The allegations in paragraphs 5(iv), 5(v) and5 (vi) of the petition are untrue as I did not refuse to oblige the request of the Honourable Minister of Finance seeking necessary clarification in respect of our various recoveries.
s) The allegations in paragraph 5(vii) of the petition are equally false. Upon my assumption in office, I have taken various steps to prevent wastage of physical assets including landed properties, motor vehicles, vessels, etc just to ensure that the FGN derives the maximum economic value and benefits from such properties.
t) On the issue of MT GOOD SUCCESS, MT DERBY and MV THAMES referred to in the Petition, I also know as a fact and verily believe that:
a) On the 30th of October, 2015 His Lordship, Hon Justice O. E.Abang in a well-considered judgment forfeited to the FGN the following:
i. The vessel MT Good Success.
ii. 1,459 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) on board the vessel.
iii. The sum N66,069,505 and $975,694,50 in FCMB Plc account of Hepa Global Energy Limited, the owner of MT Good success.
Annexure 4 is the enrolled order of the said Judgment available in the records of EFCC upon request.
u) Upon the delivery of judgment, the owners of MT Good Success appealed and also filed motion for Stay of Execution which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on the 13thJuly, 2016.See HEPA GLOBAL ENERGY v. FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2016) LPELR-41288 (CA).
v) Before the stay of execution was filed, I ensured that the FGN took economic benefit of the funds forfeited by the trial Court from the account of Hepa Global Energy, by following the money from FCMB up to the confirmation of its receipt by the CBN. Attached and marked Annexure 5(a)-(f) are relevant documents showing my effort in this regard.
w) Furthermore in a bid to ensure that the FGN took the economic benefit of the MT Good Success and in demonstrating my total commitment for accountability and transparency in the process of disposition of forfeited asset, the Commission under my leadership wrote a letter to the Honourable Attorney-General Federation (HAGF) reference number EFCC/SC/JUS/07/ 101 dated 24/03/16 titled “NOTIFICATION TO DISPOSE” of MT GOOD SUCCESS, recommending the disposal of the vessel and the processes to be adopted. The said letter which is referred to as Annexure 6 for ease of reference is available in EFCC records for verification.
x) The commission did not receive any response from the HAGF to our letter dated the 24/03/16. However, through memos dated 10th and 23rd November, 2016, the Lagos Zonal Office of the Commission informed the Commission’s Directorate of Asset Forfeiture Recovery and Management (D-AFRM) of the correspondence from the Nigerian Navy (NN), which is the physical custodian of all detained and forfeited vessels, stating that MT GOOD SUCCESS had sunk. The memos are hereby marked Annexure 7a and 7b respectively for ease of reference and available in EFCC records upon request by the panel.
y) The letter indicated that the owners of the vessel appealed against the judgment forfeiting the vessel and applied for stay of execution which was rejected by the Court. The letter from the Nigerian Navy (NN) attached to the aforesaid memos stated that when the vessel was experiencing ingress of water, the NN made an effort to relocate the vessel from Lagos Anchorage and made contact with the commission’s Lagos Office for evacuation of the products but this could not be actualized before the vessel submerged.
z) Pursuant to the above recommendation, a meeting was held with the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command wherein he explained that the vessel had sunk but same could be salvaged, after incurring heavy costs, as only very few companies, such as Julius Berger, have the equipment and capacity to salvage the vessel.
aa) The report of the meeting was conveyed through a memo dated 19th December, 2016 wherein it was recommended that all vessels in custody of the Navy listed in the memo including MT Good Success should be salvaged, evacuated and disposed, if possible. The said memo is hereby marked Annexure 8 for ease of reference and available in EFCC records if requested for by the panel.
2.8 The recommendation was accepted as indicated in the minute on the aforesaid memo (Annexure 8) wherein I directed the then Secretary to the Commission to expedite action on the due process of auction.
2.9 The then Secretary to the Commission, Mr. Emmanuel Aremo, directed the then Head of Procurement, Mr. Olushina, to issue a letter of engagement to Pinnacle Trading and Investment Nigeria Limited for the disposal exercise.
2.10 The letter issued to Pinnacle Trading and Investment Nigeria Limited was later discovered not to have complied with statutory procurement procedures provided under the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and therefore the Commission’s Management directed the revocation of the letter and publication of a disclaimer. The action was taken when it was discovered that the personalities behind Pinnacle were also behind another company known as Omo-Jay Nigeria Limited being prosecuted by the Commission for illegal oil dealings in the Niger Delta.
2.11 In respect of the vessel MT DERBY, 1 also know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. The commission had set in motion the process of disposal of the content of the vessel when Honourable Justice Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division gave an order that the Automated Gas Oil (AGO) onboard the vessel PS V Derby shall be sold by the Registrar of the Court in collaboration with the Prosecutor and Defence Counsel while the proceeds of sale shall be dealt with as the court may direct pending the determination of the charge. The Court order of 7thApril, 2017 is available in the record of EFCC as Annexure 9, on request by the panel.
ii. Whilst the Commission was taking assiduous steps towards enforcing the order of his Lordship, the HAGF commenced a fresh process for the disposal of the vessels mentioned above. In so doing, the HAGF did not respond to the letter written to him by the former Secretary to the Commission, recommending the disposal of MT Good Success. Rather, the HAGF commenced his own process of disposing not only MT GOODSUCCESS but other vessels already forfeited by the Commission including MT ASTERI, MT DERBY, MV THAMES and many others connected to pending court cases.
iii. The firm of DIPO OPESEYI & Co wrote a letter dated September 12, 2017 informing the Commission of its engagement by the HAGF to obtain forfeiture order against vessels and dispose them. The letter is hereby attached and marked as Annexure 10.
iv. To support his disposal of the vessels, the HAGF through a letter Ref: No: HAGF/ARMU/RMDOVSC/2017/1, dated January 23, 2018 informed the Commission that the firm of DIPOOPESEYI &Co. had undertaken forfeitures on his behalf and requested the Commission to work with the firm to reconcile the orders obtained by the firm. The letter of the HAGF dated 23rd of January, 2018 is marked Annexure 11 and available in the record of EFCC for verification.
v. The Commission further received a letter dated February 6, 2018 from the firm of DIPO OPESEYI & CO. titled FHC/ABJ/741/2017 & FHC/ABJ/CS/742/2017- FRN v. UNKNOWN PERSONS reiterating its engagement by the HAGF and the steps he has taken. The said letter is hereby referred to as Annexure 12.
vi. The attachment to the above letter revealed that MT GOOD SUCCESS, MT DERBY &MT THAMES were among the 136 (One hundred and thirty six) forfeited vessels. These are the vessels for which I am now being accused of mismanaging despite the engagement of a private legal firm by the HAGF to forfeit and dispose them.
vii. I also know that by a letter reference number HQ/011/78/98/93/A/VOL.1/21 dated 14th of February, 2020 addressed to the Acting Chairman of the Commission, the Nigerian Navy informed the commission that the HAGF, by virtue of FGN OFFICIAL GAZETTE No. 163 Vol. 106 of 2019, directed the Nigerian Navy to allow Omoh-Jay Nigeria Limited to evacuate the content of MT PEACE and MT ASTERIS. Annexure 13 is the said letter which is available in the record of EFCC upon request.
viii. Also, by a letter reference number SH/COS/34/25/A/475 dated 22/2/18, the Chief of Staff to the President directed the Commission not to take any step towards the sale, disposal or other dealing with the recovered and forfeited assets unless otherwise directed. The said letter is hereby attached and marked as Annexure 14.
ix. By a letter dated 18th May, 2018, the firm of SANI & CO Solicitors, acting on behalf of FSS Nigeria Limited, an auctioneer engaged by the Commission, informed the Commission that the Ministry of Defence and HAGF had by appointments and advertisement commenced the process of engaging other auctioneers to dispose the vessels, thereby taking away the opportunity given to this auctioneer by the Commission to dispose the vessels through transparent due process. The aforesaid letter is attached and marked as Annexure 15.
x. The aforesaid law firm of SANI & CO wrote a similar petition to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) against the Commission and the HAGF for undertaking double disposal process of the same assets. The Commission was invited to BPP to respond to the allegation.
xi. By a Letter Ref: No: MOD/PROC/GEN/346/1 dated 21st June, 2018 the Honourable Minister of Defence, informed the Commission of the approval of Mr. President to the Ministry of Defence to dispose the vessels. The letter of the Ministry of Defence to the Commission and the letter conveying the approval of Mr. President to the Honourable Minster of Defence are hereby attached and marked as Annexure 16.
xii. The HAGF through the Head of Asset Recovery and Management Unit of the Ministry of Justice, Ladidi B. Mohammed, wrote a letter to the Commission with reference number HAGF/ARMU/RMDOVS/2017/11 dated 27th July, 2018 requesting for access to the vessels for valuation by Omo-Jay Nigeria Limited, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and ‘Dipo Okpeseyi & Co. The letter is attached and marked as Annexure17.
xiii. In demonstrating my total commitment towards ensuring that the FGN derives the full economic benefit and in other to prevent the dissipation of forfeited assets on the 17th of July, 2018 1 wrote a letter to his Excellency, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN (Chairman, Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery) wherein I informed him of the steps taken by the Commission to prevent economic loss as result of the depreciating nature of the forfeited assets, the challenges we are encountering and the need to urgently dispose of the perishable and depreciating forfeited assets. The letter is hereby attached and marked as Annexure 18.
xiv. That in relation to the ALLEGATION contained paragraph (5ix) of the petition, I also know as a fact and verily believe that:
(a) The Commission did not make any conflicting submissions or returns in respect of the non-cash assets as the PCARA never informed me or the Commission of any difficulty it faced as a result of the information we provided.
(b) The allegation bothers on increment in the number of forfeiture of real estate after the return made to the President. The increase in the number of forfeiture of non-cash assets was as a result of fresh and more forfeiture orders obtained by the Commission from the courts.
(c) That the Commission has the requisite capacity to manage the recovered assets. The commission has a very standard directorate of Asset Forfeiture saddled with the responsibility of managing recovered and forfeited assets.”
ALLEGATION B: MISMANAGEMENT OF RECOVERED ASSETS AND DIVERSION FOR PERSONAL ENRICHMENT
3.0 The allegations in Paragraph B of the petition are contained in paragraphs B(6), B(7), B8), B(9), (B10) and (B11).
ALLEGATION IN PARAGRAPH B(6):
3.1 The allegations in B (6) are that I protested against the efforts of the National Assembly (NASS) to address the transparency of the management of recovered assets through the enactment of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019. It was also alleged that due to the protest of the Commission and the false information I purportedly supplied, Mr. President declined assent to the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019.
MY RESPONSE TO ALLEGATION IN PARAGRAPH B
3.2 I deny all the allegations contained in paragraph B (6) of the petition as same are untrue and only calculated to embarrass me and rubbish the display of my patriotism and unflinching loyalty to the President and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
3.3 That contrary to the allegations in paragraph B (6), I know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. Mr. President forwarded the draft Proceeds of Crime Bill to the Commission, as well as other Anti-Corruption Agencies, such as the Nigerian Police Force, ICPC, NDLEA, NAPTIP and the Nigerian Customs Service. Attached and marked as Annexure 19 is the letter from the Chief of Staff to the President forwarding the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 to the commission for review, comments and remarks.
ii. Upon receipt of the Presidential instruction, 1promptly constituted a team of experts in this field with requisite experience, to review the draft Bill as directed by Mr. President.
iii. After a thorough review of the Bill, the Commission came up with a common position and forwarded same to Mr. President. Annexure 20 is a copy of the letter through which the commission forwarded its position to Mr. President and is available in the record of EFCC.
iv. Apart from the Commission, other Anti-Corruption Agencies also forwarded their positions to Mr. President, disagreeing with the substantial sections of the Bill.
v. Mr. President declined assent to the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 in the overriding interest of the nation and the need to sustain the tempo of the achievements this administration is recording in the fight against corruption.
vi. The recommendations of the Commission to Mr. President on the Bill was not tainted with any falsehood, rather it was honest, professional, courageous and a patriotic position. Other than the corporate position of the commission which was transmitted to Mr. President, I did not sponsor any campaign against the POCA Bill, 2019.
ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPHS B (7), B(8) & B(9)
3.4 The allegations in paragraphs B7, B8 & B9 are that:
a) I neglected and refused blatantly to comply with Regulations on the Management of Recovered Assets, 2019.
b) I do not want a proper and transparent procedure for the Management of assets as directed by Mr. President through the Office of the HAGF.
c) I and top officials of the commission are using the forfeited assets to corruptly enrich ourselves.
THE ASSETS RECOVERED WERE IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE EXTANT LAWS, REGULATIONS, PROCESSES AND PROCEDURES
MY RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPH B(7), B(8) & B(9)-
3.5 I deny all the allegations in paragraphs B(7), B(8) & B(9) of the petition in their entirety as they are totally untrue and calculated to malign me and the Commission.
3.6 Contrary to paragraphs B(7), B(8) & B(9) of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. All steps taken by me in respect of recovered and forfeited assets were in accordance with powers conferred on me by the Act of the National Assembly which established the Commission.
ii. I have never disobeyed any directives and regulation of Mr. President whether in relation to the management of the recovered and forfeited assets or any sundry issues.
iii. In the discharge of my official functions, I am bound to comply with the provisions of various enabling laws enacted by the NASS which confer certain special powers on the Commission in respect of recovered and forfeited assets which are in conflict with the Regulations of the HAGF.
iv. Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 conferred on the Commission the responsibility of tracing and forfeiting abandoned properties and properties reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
v. Through the special provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, the Commission under my watch has forfeited numerous properties to the FGN.
vi. Rather than strengthening the institutional capacity of the Commission and the provisions of section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006, the Commission and its enabling statutes have been subjected to numerous attacks and blackmails majorly aimed at whittling down the powers of the Commission
vii. One of such attacks is the provisions of section 162 (3)of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 which seeks to delete sections 20, 21, 22, 24, 25(a), (c) &(d), 26(1)(b), 29, 33, and 34 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act,2004 which empowered the Commission to investigate, prosecute and confiscate assets.
viii. Considering the negative impact section 162 (3) of Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 will have on the tracing and recovery of proceeds of crimes in Nigeria, Mr. President in his wisdom, declined assent to the Bill.
ix. The Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 made by the HAGF without the intervention of the NASS seeks to divest the Commission of its statutory power to trace, recover and institute non-conviction based forfeiture proceedings in court. This development conflicts with the statutory mandates and powers conferred on the Commission by the NASS.
x. I am always transparent in the exercise of my duties and there is no official decision that I have taken as Ag. Chairman of the Commission which was not a product of transparent process and in compliance with statutory provisions.
xi. The Commission did not oppose the enactment of Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 but was opposed to some negative and far reaching provisions of the Bill which will impede and reverse the anti-corruption agenda of the FGN.
ALL THE ASSETS RECOVERED ARE PROPERLY ACCOUNTED FOR
ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPH (B) 10
In paragraph B (10), it was alleged that most of the forfeited assets are sold without anyone knowing, or having proper record and recourse to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that has the mandate to undertake evaluation of such properties. It was also alleged that some of the assets have been taken over by officials of the Commission while some are sold at a giveaway price to my friends and cronies. It was further alleged that I maintained different accounts including using proxies who return the benefit of the sold assets to me and that the proceeds of the purported sales were used to acquire properties in the name of my proxies.
MY RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPH B(10)
3.7 I deny each and every allegations contained in paragraph B(10) of the petition as they are totally false, untrue and merely targeted at destroying my hard earned reputation as incorruptible Officer.
3.8 That contrary to the allegations contained in (10) of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. Since my assumption of office as the Ag. Chairman of the commission, not a single recovered or forfeited property has been sold and the proceeds converted.
ii. All the finally forfeited properties are intact except those described below:
3.9 241 Forfeited Trucks: The Federal High Court directed the trucks to be sold by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court in conjunction with the Department Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Commission. Notwithstanding the Order of Court, I ensured that a Presidential approval was sought and obtained before the process of sale commenced in December, 2019. The sale by public auction was concluded and the proceeds paid to the Recovery Account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Attached and marked Annexure 21 is the Presidential approval and evidence of remittance of the proceeds of sale to the Recovery Account.
3.10 Allocation of vehicles to some Government Agencies through Special Auction with Presidential approval. The beneficiary Agencies are:
a) Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management of which the valued price is to be debited from their allocation.
b) State House.
c) National Commission for Refugees and Displaced Persons.
d) Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
e) National Directorate of Employment (NDE); motorcycles.
f) Real properties finally forfeited to the FGN and Allocated to some Agencies for official use in line with the Presidential approval are:
a. Voice of Nigeria (VON).
b. National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
c. Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.
d. North East Development Commission.
e. Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD)
g) Properties under interim forfeiture order rented by some Government Agencies:
a) Nigerian Army
b) Federal Ministry of Finance
c) Fiscal Responsibility Commission
d) Nigerians in Diaspora Commission
e) Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria
h) Other Agencies of Government that have approached the Commission to rent property under interim forfeiture order include:
i. National Human Rights Commission
ii. National Council for Arts and Culture.
i) The commission also temporarily handed over property in Lagos to the Lagos State Government for use as Isolation Centre for COVID-19 patients.
j) The commission presently has Presidential approval to dispose over 450 forfeited vehicles located in Lagos and Abuja. The vehicles have been valued by the National Automotive Council Valuers and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. But no sale/disposal has been conducted yet.
INVESTIGATION INTO PERSONAL ENRICHMENT WITH THE ASSETS RECOVERED
8.0 ALLEGATION F (21) AND (22)
8.1 In paragraph 2, it was alleged that the HAGF was in receipt of several petitions against me wherein allegations of personal enrichment, abuse of office and the fact that I am occupying the office illegally. According to the HAGF, these petitioners have gone to Court to express their anger with this administration for failing to act in line with the EFCC Establishment Act, 2004 in the appointment of Executive Chairman and the Board of the EFCC.
8.2 Sirs, permit to state that l am not privy to any allegations contained in the petitions purportedly received by the HAGF against me. However, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. In the exercise of my official functions as Ag. Chairman of the Commission, 1 have stepped on toes in ensuring that Corruption is fought to a standstill in Nigeria.
ii. Some of the suspects under investigation and prosecution are always ganging up to fight me back, publishing false, untrue, malicious and libelous allegations against me.
iii. I have never abused the office I am occupying at the pleasure Mr. President.
iv. I have never personally enriched myself whilst performing my official function. I challenge my accuser to produce any evidence of this purported personal enrichment.v. Regarding the issue of several petitions over the legality of my continued stay as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC without Senate’s confirmation, l wish to state that the judgment of Hon. Justice ljeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court, Abuja Judicial Division has laid to rest any issue arising from my appointment.
vi. In his landmark judgment delivered on December 4, 2019, Hon. Justice ljeoma Ojukwu dismissed the five consolidated suits against me on the grounds that there is no time limit within which I can act as the chairman of the Commission and that the President Muhammadu Buharihas the proverbial “yam and knife” to keep me in office as long as he pleases.
vii. The Court even went further to urge Mr. President to do the needful and forward my name to the Senate for confirmation in the interest of the Commission and the General Public.
viii. It is instructive to note that the defendants in the consolidated suits were the Senate President, Attorney- General of the Federation (AGF), EFCC and my humble self.
ix. I wish to state that out of 12 suits instituted to challenge the legality of my tenure, seven of those suits were struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
x. On the remaining five Suits, four of them urged the Court to declare my stay in office as illegal since my nomination by President Buhari was twice rejected by the Senate while the fifth suit urged the court to hold that I could validly remain as the Acting Head of the EFCC despite Senate’s refusal to confirm my appointment.
xi. His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ijeoma dismissed the five consolidated suits challenging the legality of my appointment. Attached and marked Annexure 46 (a)-(e) are the Certified True Copies of the five judgments.
Speaking on the propriety of his continued stay as EFCC boss in spite of non-confirmation by the Senate, Magu stated in his defence that:
8.4 The Petitioner in Paragraph F (22) states: “One of the Court applications that were filed in March 2020 seeks to determine the legality or illegality of the Acting Chairman occupying the Office without an appointment letter. Your Excellency is also aware that the Board of EFCC has not been constituted since 2015. This is in total breach of the EFCC Act and the Public Service rules. Despite this, the Acting Chairman has failed or neglected to submit approvals that are above his limit supervision or for an external body to approve. This is in breach of financial regulations.”
8.5 Sir, contrary to the claim of the HAGF in paragraph 22 of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. My letter of appointment, which was duly signed by the appointing authority, was given to me before my assumption of office as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC. Attached and Marked Annexure 47 is a copy of my appointment letter available on request.
ii. The Judgments of Hon. Justice Ojukwu of the Federal High Court which confirms the legality of my appointment are still subsisting until set aside by the appellate court.
iii. It is inappropriate for the HAGF to state that a fresh application has been filed in March 2020 against my tenure at the Federal High Court when he is aware that the issue of the legality of my appointment has been resolved and settled by a judgment of Court of competent jurisdiction as far back as December 4, 2019.
iv. The new suit filed in March, 2020 is nothing but an abuse of court process.
v. The only option available for the plaintiffs in the suits against me is for them to proceed to the Court of Appeal to seek redress.
vi. Incidentally, one of the plaintiffs in the dismissed consolidated five suits, Mr. Johnmary Jideobi, has appealed against the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which dismissed his suit, asking for my removal.
vii. It is also imperative to state that Jideobi also listed the Senate, the AGF, EFCC and my humble self as the respondents to the pending appeal before the Court of Appeal in Abuja.
viii. But the HAGF deliberately refused to disclose these facts in his allegations against me.
ix. Regarding the non- constitution of the EFCC Board since 2015, the Petitioner is aware that the appointment of the board members is at the prerogative of Mr. President and not within my statutory powers.
x. In the exercise of my functions as the Ag. Chairman of the Commission, I have not taken any decision without the requisite approvals. The allegation that I have failed or neglected to obtain approvals from external authorities in breach of financial regulations is untrue and totally misconceived and unfounded.
8.6 Above represents my defence to the allegations read by me on various social media platforms and traditional newspapers. I also rely on my letters to the panel refuting some of the allegations falsely published against me in the media, many of these allegations have been denied with apologies by the newspapers that orchestrated the publications.
8.7 I will further make available to the panel, additional materials to address all other allegations to which my attention may be drawn subsequent to this presentation.
9.1 My Lord and Gentlemen, all my actions are documented and follow the prescribed procedures with necessary approvals. I am innocent. I have served my country to the best of my abilities with all sense of responsibility and integrity.
9.2 The records of achievements to the glory of God and this administration are there for all to see. I respectfully invite the panel to note the Stellar and unprecedented achievements of the EFCC under my watch as the Acting Chairman. A list of some of the achievements is the attached Annexure 1.
In the context of these achievements, my plea to the panel is to consider these achievements in strengthening my innocence.
9.3 I recall that President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter sent to the Senate in 2017 through the then Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal, cleared me of all allegations of corruption and misconduct, based on the report of the current HAGF Abubakar Malami SAN. A copy of the letter is in the custody of the HAGF and the 8th Senate for ease of reference.
9.4 Thank you for the opportunity offered me for my defence and to provide relevant documentary materials as requested.
9.5 I intend to furnish additional materials on what, in my opinion precipitated these baseless allegations in spite of the stellar achievements on anti-corruption of the President Buhari administration with my modest contributions. This will be forwarded to this distinguished panel as an ADDENDUM.
9.6 Gentlemen, please accept my best personal regards and thank you for service to country.