N118bn, $309m fraud cases concealed under Magu – Panel
The presidential panel that probed former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has revealed that 14 fraud cases involving N118 billion and $309 million were abandoned by the anti-graft commission under his watch, TheCable reports.
In July 2020, as acting chairman of the EFCC, Magu was arrested, detained, and suspended. He was brought before the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel on allegations of gross misconduct.
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.
He was further accused of suppressing high-profile cases involving four ex-governors, one of whom is currently a senator.
According to TheCable, the final report was submitted to President Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) in November 2020. The EFCC, under Magu’s watch, was also accused of not remitting a N48 billion loot recovered in foreign and local currencies.
The former EFCC boss was alleged to have mishandled the recovered loot and sold seized assets to his associates.
The report reviewed written and oral testimonies of over 100 witnesses, having overtaken nationwide physical verification of recovered forfeited assets, including real estate, automobiles, vessels, and other non-cash and cash assets.
The review of the report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets showed 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.
It added, “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, leaving a shortfall of eight billion, five hundred and five million, one hundred and eighteen thousand, three hundred and fourteen naira, twenty-one kobo.
“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, 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.
“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.
“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.
It added, “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.”
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 into the sea with a substantial quantity of petroleum products.
It further revealed, “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 estates, but the judicial commission only confirmed 76 disposals.”
When contacted by our correspondent, the EFCC’s spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren, stated that the commission was yet to receive the report of the Salami-led panel.
He said, “We have not seen such a report. However, the panel was set up by the federal government and not the EFCC. Hence we know nothing about it at the moment.”