The suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has asked the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, to present evidence that he (Magu) fraudulently enriched himself and also collected bribes to shield suspects from prosecution.
Mr Magu challenged Mr Malami while responding to a query by a presidential probe panel investigating allegations of corruption and official misconduct made against him by the AGF.
Last week, Mr Malami announced Mr Magu’s suspension following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval.
Mr Magu is currently being investigated by a panel headed by Ayo Salami, former president of the appeal court, over allegations of corruption and insubordination levelled against him by Mr Malami.
He was detained for about 10 days before his release.
After his arrest, allegations that Mr Magu diverted billions of naira from recovered funds, as well as the interests accruing from the funds, were circulated and published on various media platforms.
In Mr Magu’s response, he denied “vehemently and unequivocally” that suspects sought ways to bribe him or other EFCC investigators as alleged by the AGF.
“This false allegation is most unfortunate, spiteful, malicious and intended to cruelly destroy my hard-earned reputation,” the official said. “Contrary to the allegations contained in paragraph (A-5X) of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that not a dime of the recovered funds was fraudulently converted to my personal… I challenge my accuser to produce evidence of such fraudulent conversion.”
Mr Magu said the claim by Mr Malami that he (Magu) received several petitions alleging he is abusing his office and has been enriching himself, “is not surprising as he is bound to step on toes in the discharge of his duties and some of those he has charged for corruption or who are being investigated for same are bound to fight back”.
“In the exercise of my official functions as acting Chairman of the Commission, I have stepped on toes in ensuring that corruption is fought to a standstill in Nigeria,” Mr Magu explained. “Some of the suspects under investigation and prosecution are always ganging up to fight me back publishing false, untrue, malicious and libellous allegations against me.”
“I have never abused the office I am occupying at the pleasure, Mr President. I have never personally enriched myself whilst performing my official function. I challenge my accuser to produce any evidence of this purported personal enrichment,” he said.
Mr Magu also claimed that the audit of the EFCC account fell short of the accepted standard. He added that a committee set up by Mr Malami to look into the books of the anti-graft commission did not uphold the principle of fair hearing enshrined in the Nigerian Constitution.
He said he was never invited to defend himself before the committee made its findings public.
“It is the international best practices in audit to have an entry and exit meeting. During the exit meeting, parties are expected to thoroughly review and reconcile documents/data to enable the auditee to present necessary explanations to clear any grey area.
“Contrary to the established international best practice and the principle of fair hearing as enshrined in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, the report of the PCARA and the documents analysed before making the purported findings contained in Paragraph 5 of the petition were never made available to the Commission to respond and clarify.
“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.
“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 asset 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.
“Sir, even when cash is recovered during execution of search warrant, such funds are meticulously counted, kept in safe custody of the Exhibit Keeper and lodged in the recovery account.”
He said he was not a signatory to the accounts and “has never approved any withdrawal from the recovery accounts for his personal benefit”.
He also denied that he converted foreign currencies recovered from suspects to naira.
“The EFCC has always reported, as a matter of standard practice and procedure, foreign currency discovered and not their naira equivalent,” he said.
Mr Malami did not answer or return calls seeking his comments for this story.
Culled from premiumtimesng