Fred Itua, Abuja
Crack teams from the Department of State Service (DSS) and the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the Nigeria Police have begun a manhunt for those involved in the burgling of the office of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU), the central national agency that handles disclosures and intelligence in the financial sector.
The office, located at No. 12, Ibrahim Taiwo Street, Aso Villa, was allegedly burgled last Thursday night. It was, however, discovered on Friday morning. When the suspected burglars broke in, at least seven computers, containing sensitive financial information, were reportedly taken away, while others were damaged.
Daily Sun has reliably gathered that the key mastermind of the burglary, a serving chief superintendent of police, was on the run, as security operatives intensified efforts to apprehend him and his co-travellers.
It was learnt that the break-in was caught on camera: “At least, six persons were involved. They were caught by a CCTV camera. Detectives are on their trail after watching the footage,” a source told Daily Sun last night.
The office was attacked after the presidential panel probing the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, requested for the transaction history of a Kaduna-based bureau de change (BDC). The panel was told that the BDC, which allegedly had links to Magu, recently transacted businesses worth over N500 billion in different currencies — N336 billion, $435 million and €14 million.
Magu is facing charges of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets as well as disobeying directives and court orders. He has been in detention since last week, after he was compelled by security operatives who accosted him at the EFCC annex in Wuse II and escorted him to the Aso Villa, venue of the ongoing probe.
Panel invites commission’s ex-director of finance, more EFCC directors
Undeterred by the heist, the presidential panel is continuing its investigation and has summoned more persons to appear before it in its bid to get to the root of the “weighty” allegations against Magu. Among them are staff of the EFCC and others who were privy to how Magu managed the anti-graft agency.
A former director of finance in the commission is among those expected to testify before the panel, which enters it second week today.
The former director was transferred to the parent ministry by Magu for some yet-to-be ascertained reasons. It was, however, learnt that the director had been at loggerheads with him before the transfer.
A source said, “The former finance director was on secondment from the ministry. His stay at the commission was turbulent as he never had it smooth with Magu. He was ‘bundled’ out of the commission by Magu three days before he was forced out himself.”
The panel has also called for all the files of PEPs (politically exposed persons) and major contractors since Magu took over the leadership of the commission.
Some operatives of the EFCC, who are referred to as ‘Magu boys’ are expected to face the panel today. During their interrogation, they are expected to present files containing details of PEPs. They are also expected to bring files on on major projects and contractors.
Embattled Magu, who has also applied for bail, is also to testify before the panel today, alongside his ‘boys.’ Other operatives will also appear before the panel today. They’re expected to give their own account of what transpired in the EFCC during the turbulent reign of Magu as acting chairman.
Magu has again been accused of failing to give proper account of 332 out of the 836 recovered real estate property in March, 2018.
He is also accused of turning EFCC into a ‘glorified police station.’ The allegations were contained in a report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari by one of the investigative committees set up to look into the activities of the EFCC under Magu.
According to the report, Magu has continued seconding police officers to the EFCC, in spite of the massive recruitment of officers and men carried out by the commission in recent years.
“The blatant display of arrogance and acquisition of illicit wealth has turned the EFCC into a glorified police station.
“Despite massive recruitment of officers and men in recent years by the (suspended) acting chairman at the EFCC, he is still seconding police officers to the EFCC because he is comfortable with his fellow officers to carry out his illicit activities. He does not have any exit strategy for the police even though the EFCC officers are more experienced in the investigation of economic and financial crimes,’’ the report further noted.
The Inspector-General of Police, Muhammed Adamu, had on Friday ordered the withdrawal of mobile policemen attached to Magu, who is held at Area 10 Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Abuja.
Suspended EFCC boss queried over 332 recovered properties
In a report by the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) made available to the News Agency of Nigeria, it was indicated that the unaccounted properties were worth billions of naira.
The report also noted massive wastage and deterioration of physical assets (including landed property, cars and vessels) recovered by the EFCC due to poor management.
The report also noted with concern the failure to preserve and realise the economic value of the recovered assets, noting that some of the assets were recovered over 15 years ago when Nuhu Ribadu held sway as chairman.
The report stated that the few consultants hired by the EFCC were not managing a substantial number of the recovered assets and the EFCC has no capacity to handle the entire assets on its own.
The report read in part: “For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of recovered real estate in the original returns it made to the President on 07/04/2017.
“However, in its first returns to PCARA on 13/12/2017, EFCC shortchanged the system and gave the figure of 339, thereby failing to account for 497 property.
“It is interesting to note that, when the Acting Chairman was further queried on this lapse, he made further contradictory second return of 504 on 09/03/2018 thereby bridging the gap to 332 property.’’
The committee identified lack of internal control mechanisms/systems within the EFCC and lack of adequate returns by EFCC departments and zonal offices as reasons for these discrepancies and inconsistencies by the commission.
The suspended EFCC boss was also alleged to have neglected and refused to comply with the regulations on the Management of Recovered Assets, 2019, as he embarked on disposing of some of the properties without regard to extant laws.
“These regulations were issued in line with international best practices and to ensure that all the anti-corruption agencies report all their recovered assets in a database provided by the Federal Government.”
Falana denies claims
Meanwhile, a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, has denied claims made in reports where he was accused of receiving N28 million from Magu. Falana issued the refutal in a letter signed by his lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN).
He also demanded a retraction of the claim by a national daily (not Daily Sun) that published the story within 48 hours. The lawyer said the story was “damning against my client because his entire career as a lawyer has been devoted to fighting human rights abuses and corruption in high and low place.”
Olumide-Fusika added: “In the circumstance, my immediate instruction is to demand that you acknowledge your wrongdoing, expressly admit that what you imputed against my client was false, and apologise for your unprofessionalism and the damage you have caused to him.”