Fred Itua, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel of enquiry investigating suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to submit report of its findings within 45 days from the day it began work.
It is not certain if the numbers of days already spent by the panel, so far, would be deemed as part of the 45-day timeline as the panel has been sitting in private, barring journalists from covering its proceedings, a source said.
In what many have described as a critical stage in the ongoing investigation, Buhari has also approved the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004) to investigate the alleged financial impropriety and mismanagement of recovered assets levelled against Magu.
Magu’s woes began over a month ago when he was accosted in front of the Wuse II office of the EFCC and compelled to appear before the panel. He was initially detained for several days before he was granted administrative bail. Since his release, he has repeatedly maintained his innocence despite mounting ‘incriminating’ evidence.
Already, key witnesses including staff of the EFCC, senior lawyers and others have testified against him.
Magu’s near five-year reign has been described by observers as rancorous. He was also accused of abusing his powers, flouting court orders and using fronts to collect bribes from suspects.
Meanwhile, the embattled police officer, Daily Sun, reliably gathered, was served on Saturday, August 8, served with the allegations and terms of reference.
Multiple sources close to the Presidency also disclosed to Daily Sun that President Buhari has further named more persons to serve as members of the panel. They are Justice Isa Ayo Salami (retd)- North Central (Kwara). He is the chairman. Anthony Ogbizi Michael, representing the Police Force and from South South will serve as deputy chairman. Others are Muhammad Abubakar Babadoko (Justice Ministry) – North Central and member; Hassan Yahaya Abdullahi (Department of State Services) – North, Muhammad Shamsuddeen (Attorney-General of the Federation’s office)- North West; Douglas Egweme (Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit)- South East and Kazeem Attitebi from South West is the secretary.
Details of a petition submitted to the investigative panel by Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, had alleged lack of proper record keeping and discrepancies in the recovery figures, which it claimed were a dent on the anti-corruption drive as they raised integrity issues that could lead to loss of public confidence.
“For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of recovered real estate in the original returns it made to Mr. President on 07/04/2017. However, in its 1st returns to PCARA on 13/12/2017, EFCC gave the figure of 339, while in the 2nd returns to PCARA on 09/03/2018, it stated the recoveries to be 504. The 1st and 2nd returns total 843,” part of the petition written by Malami read.
Magu in his response to the panel, had also said: “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.
“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 of Mr. President.”