Adetutu Folasade-Koyi, Fred Itua, Molly Kilete and Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja, Sunday Ani and Chukwudi Nweje
Embattled Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, yesterday, attended the sitting of the presidential panel investigating him from detention, where he has been since Monday night.
Magu had first faced the panel on Monday, wherein he was grilled for six hours, answering questions on 22 allegations against him. He was taken into detention at FCID, Abuja theteafter.
As at 8pm last night, Magu was still been grilled by the panel. He would be taken back to the FCID after the session.
It was gathered that while he is facing the panel, Mr. Umar Mohammed, the Commission’s Director of Operations will side-stepped the Secretary of the Commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede to hold forth as head in the interim, pending when Magu returns or a substantive chairman is appointed.
By hierarchy, Olukoyede is next to the Chairman of the EFCC. However, a precedence was set in 2008, when Nuhu Ribadu was removed by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua and was not replaced by the next in command.
Magu’s second day at the panel’s sitting
There was flurry of activities at the Banquet Hall, yesterday afternoon, after the arrival of the committee members.
At 1:33pm, a convoy of four vehicles, which appeared to be carrying a Very Important Person (VIP), drove into the premises, but it could not be immediately established whether Magu was the official being conveyed.
The convoy had a Peugeot sedan sandwiched by two Toyota Hilux vans occupied by several security personnel, who apparently provided cover for the lead car.
After a brief vetting by the DSS officials at the gate, the convoy was waved on to join the panel meeting atop the Banquet Hall.
As it was on Monday, July 6, again, security details denied access to accredited journalists at the entrance to the Banquet Hall.
Meanwhile, it was gathered that sequel to Monday’s incident, where his convoy was stopped on the street, following which he was taken to the Presidential Villa to honour the panel’s invitation, “Magu was reluctant to respond to the panel’s several invitations officially extended to him.”
Notwitstanding, the panel was said to have “treated him with respect by letting him keep and have access to his phones, allowing him to go for prayers by himself as well as served dinner while still being quizzed by the members.”
Situation at EFCC office
When our correspondent visited the Commission’s headquarters at about 3:45pm yesterday, security was beefed up, while the expansive building was almost deserted.
Besides some staff who were seen in few numbers in offices, the usual buzz in the environment was missing.
A credible source in the Commission who spoke to Daily Sun on the development, said Magu’s travails started when the supervising Minister of the Commission and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, severally expressed displeasure over the suspended Acting Chairman’s modus operandi.
The source said some people in the Presidency had also complained about Magu’s subtle involvement in the 2023 political interplay.
Magu may face disciplinary panel, PSC
At press time, yesterday, detachments of security operatives were reportedly combing his old residence in the Karu area of Abuja and his controversial new abode in the highbrow Maitama District also in the FCT. It could not be ascertain what they were looking for.
Meanwhile, sources revealed that the police may issue Magu a query as soon as he finishes facing the presidential panel.
Already, all security details attached to him have been withdrawn as police authorities await the outcome of the investigation of the presidential panel.
It was also gathered that the outcome of the investigative panel would determine whether he would remain in the police or not.
On what will happen if Magu is indicted by the panel, a police source said: “Formally, he would be issued a query and, after that, the Police Service Commission would deliberate over his response(s) and, thereafter, make a decision.
“This has to take place because it is a process. Even as he is technically not EFCC chairman, being in detention and another has taken his place, he would not be dismissed from the Force without fair hearing.”
How arrest was planned by 3 security agencies
The drama leading to Magu’s appearance at the panel was hatched two weeks ago.
Sources revealed that security operatives on Monday trailed Magu to the Adetokunbo Ademola, Wuse II EFCC office and intercepted his convoy to serve him invitation to the panel.
The signal for this was said to have been activated by a top security agency charged with the protection of Nigeria’s sovereignty. Before this, the presidential probe panel earlier constituted to investigate petitions against him by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation and the Department of State Service was already at the sitting venue.
A top security source said on the day Magu was invited to the panel, he got hints of his possible arrest and was prepared.
“On that day, he went to the Wuse II EFCC office and from his office, which has a generous view of the link street, he saw an unusual movement of security vehicles. He actually left the office and as his official vehicle entered the Adetokunbo Ademola access road, the vehicle was blocked.”
At this time, all the three main entrances of the Wuse II EFCC office had been cordoned off.
Anybody can be scrutinised – Presidency
A top government official has declared that the investigation confirms the Buhari administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
It assured that the administration will not prejudge anyone as it could be counted on to uphold justice and fairness.
“The panel investigating allegations against ag. EFCC chairman has been sitting for some weeks now.
“In consonance with the principle of fairness and justice, it was needful that he be given opportunity to respond to the allegations, which are weighty in nature.
“Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, nobody is above scrutiny.
“The investigation is to reinforce transparency and accountability, rather than to vitiate it. Accountability for our actions or inactions is inalienable part of democracy.
“In such elevated position as that of EFCC Chairman, the holder of the position must be above suspicion.”
Buhari has zero support for corruption -Momoh
Former minister of Information and chieftain of the All Progressives Party (APC), Prince Tony Momoh said the APC-led Federal Government, under President Buhari, has zero tolerance for corruption and corrupt practices, and that if anybody is accused of corrupt practices, the hammer would fall on the person except he/she is cleared of such allegation.
“For instance, if on the strength of the petition against him, it is discovered that his continued stay in office will jeopardise the investigation, of course, he has to be suspended. That is to tell you that even if you are the president’s right hand man, you will get the hit, and possibly hurt if you work outside the due process,” he said.
FG should tell us what he did -Kokori
In his reaction, former national secretary, Nigeria Union of Petroleum and Natural Gas Workers (NUPENG), Frank Kokori, described the development as unfortunate because to him, Magu is one of the best.
He advised Buhari to carry out proper investigation so as not to be misled by his ministers.
“I don’t have the facts yet, but comparatively, I think Magu is one of the best we have in this country. And I know that many Nigerians have trust in Magu. We don’t want a lame-duck person to go and head that place again.
“However, the public should be made to know the crime he committed that has now led to his suspension. That is the way I look at it, if not, I am one of his fans and I believe he is doing a good job. So, if he has some dirty skeleton, let us know,” he submitted.
Ugwummadu, Erubami react
President, Nigeria Voters Assembly and Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights and Ethics in Development, Moshood Erubami, said Nigerians should not celebrate the suspension until details of the investigation panel were made public.
He wondered if the country will ever get another EFCC boss who will prosecute the anti-corruption crusade with the same vigour as Magu, even as he noted that the ordeal may not be unconnected with corruption fighting back.
In his reaction, a lawyer, Malachy Ugwummadu, described Magu’s suspension as an interdiction, a period during which a civil servant is suspended from office.
“Such a civil servant is no longer entitled to the full rights and privileges that accrue to him by reason of that service as a civil servant. So, if you equate that to the development, it will be charitable to say that that is what happened,” he said.