The embattled suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has dared his accusers to produce evidence of facts that he fraudulently converted the nation’s recovered looted funds to his personal account.
In his response to a presidential probe panel investigating allegations of gross misconduct against him by Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister the allegations against him as false and calculated to tarnish his image despite the “commendable” achieveof Justice, Magu described ments of the EFCC under his leadership.
In the response titled ‘Alleged Case of Conspiracy, Enrichment, Abuse of Public Office and Other Infractions’, he said “not a dime of the recovered funds was fraudulently converted to my personal account”, adding, “I challenge my accusers to produce evidence of such fraudulent conversion.”
He unequivocally denied the allegation, saying that “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”.
According to him, “It is the international best practice 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 to present necessary explanations to clear any grey area.”
Magu argued that 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 Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (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.
“I was not invited by the committee to defend myself and the commission before the purported findings were made. 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 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).
“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 explained.
Magu commended President Muhammadu Buhari for giving him the unique opportunity to defend himself of all the allegations levelled against him and the commission, saying it was a demonstration of the president’s commitment to the fundamental principle of justice, which is “fair hearing”.
He said: “I am, however, aware that when a lie is told over and over again, it acquires the semblance of truth.
“Therefore, it is necessary that I engage in a detailed rebuttal of the false allegations against my person and the commission, otherwise it acquires the flavour of truth.
“On the contrary, in several cases under investigation, recovery and management of assets, the Office of the Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) has either interfered with the process or has been less cooperative and supportive.”
In respect of the achievements the EFCC has recorded in the fight against corruption under President Buhari, Magu noted that it was contrary to the assertion that he was not acting in the overall best interest of the country and the policies of the administration.
“I wish to state that my service and records of achievements have been commendable.
“A comprehensive list of the key achievements of the commission under my leadership is attached and marked Annexure 1,” he said.
Also, responding to the allegation that he fraudulently converted the recovered looted funds to his personal account, Magu said: “I am not a signatory to these accounts and the funds therein.
“I have never approved withdrawal from any of the commission’s recovery accounts for my personal benefit.
“There is nowhere 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.
“The commission under my leadership has never converted foreign currency recoveries to naira.
“The allegation in paragraph 561 of the petition is untrue because I did not manipulate the data of the commission’s recoveries.
“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 March 24, 2017, the president instructed me to forward the status of various recoveries the commission made from May 2015 till the date of the letter.
“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.
“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, which is not under my total dominion and control.
“This demonstrates the falsity of the accusation of diversion of forfeited assets wrongly levelled against me.
“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).”
He said he had never disobeyed any directives and regulations of the president, whether in relation to the management of the recovered and forfeited assets or any sundry issues.
According to Magu, “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.
“In the discharge of my official functions, I am bound to 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. comply with the provisions
“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.
“Through the special provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offence Act, 2006, the commission under my watch has forfeited numerous properties to the FGN.
“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 blackmail majorly aimed at whittling down the powers of the commission.
“One of such attacks is the provisions of Section 162 (3) of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019, which seeks to delete Sections 6(d),13(2)(c), 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.”
Magu claimed that he was always transparent in the exercise of his official duties and that there was no official decision that he had taken as acting chairman of the commission which was not a product of transparent process and in compliance with statutory provisions.
He said: “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.
“Sir, I deny each and every allegation contained in paragraph B (10) of the petition as they are totally false, untrue, and merely targeted at destroying my hard-earned reputation as an incorruptible officer.
“That contrary to the allegations contained in paragraph B(10) of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that since my assumption of office as the acting chairman of the commission, not a single recovered or forfeited property has been sold and the proceeds fraudulently converted.”
Practical Considerations to Negotiate an Enforceable Joint Operating Agreement in Civil Law Jurisdictions (Netherlands: Kluwer Law International, 2020) By Professor Damilola S. Olawuyi, LL. B (1st Class), BL (1st Class), LL.M (Calgary), LL.M (Harvard), DPhil (Oxford), Professor of Law and Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti, Nigeria, www.damilolaolawuyi.com. & Professor Eduardo G. Pereira, LL. B (Brazil), LL.M (Aberdeen), PhD (Aberdeen),www.eduardogpereira.com
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