Fred Itua, Abuja
Ten days after he was whisked away and “arraigned” before a presidential panel, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has been released.
Magu was arrested on July 6 over allegations of corruption, insubordination and purchase of property in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Before his release, Magu had on Friday, July 10, written to the Inspector-General of Police(IGP), Mohammed Adamu, demanding that he be granted bail from police custody. His lawyer, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, was reported to have made the bail demand in a letter.
But the IGP directed Magu to channel his request to the presidential panel investigating his activities in office. Adamu had explained that the arrest and detention were not executed by the Police hence he could not grant him bail.
Responding to an earlier bail application from Wahab Shittu, the IGP, through the Force principal staff officer, Idowu Owohunwa, said: “The IGP advises that you consider redirecting your request to the chairman of the presidential panel for appropriate attention.”
In the meantime, Magu has rejected claims made against him by the presidential panel investigating him and other staff of the EFCC.
In a letter addressed to the chairman of the panel, Justice Salami, Magu’s lawyer, Shittu raised some posers and insisted that the claims in the public were wrong representations of the facts on ground.
Days after his arrest, he was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari as acting chairman of the commission to enable the panel carry out a holistic investigation on claims made against him by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, Magu said he was yet to be told what his offences were.
Shittu Wrote: “Our client has also not been given a copy of the report of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA). This publication is complete fabrication. The truth is that EFCC under our client’s watch is ready to respond to this allegation if obliged a copy of PCARA.
“There has been no mismanagement of and certainly, there is no lack of transparency in the management of recovered assets under the leadership of our client. The attention of our client has been drawn to serial falsehood publications in the media in respect of matters which never featured in the proceedings of this honourable panel.”
Shittu also dismissed that Magu had been consistently grilled, as he said the embattled anti-graft czar was never brought before the panel between Thursday and Tuesday, and has instead arrived at the venue on the listed days only to wait from 9am to 9pm before being taken back into custody.
“The allegation that our client was grilled by the panel on Monday, July 13 as reported above is complete falsehood,” the letter read.
“The correct position was that our client and his Counsel (Mr. Wahab Shittu) arrived the venue of the ongoing investigations on Monday July 13 by 9am. Our client and his counsel were kept at the waiting room of the venue of the sittings unattended to from 9am to 9pm when our client was taken back to custody. This followed the same pattern on Thursday and Friday last week when our client waited for 12 hours without being called upon by the panel to partake in the proceedings. Witnesses called by the panel were interrogated without the participation of our client or his counsel in the proceedings. This was also the pattern on Tuesday, July 14. Our client chose to wait patiently on the panel.”
Shittu said the suspended EFCC boss was yet to officially receive a copy of the allegations against him, and requested the panel to ask the Inspector-General of police to release him from custody to enable him to prepare properly for his defence.
“Our client is spending the 9th day in custody without being given copy of the allegations against him to enable him formally respond to same. Our client is ready to formally respond to allegations and furnish documentary evidence in support if served with the copy of the allegations.
“Our client respectfully demands the following: A copy of the report of the Presidential Audit Committee; a copy of the memo of HAGF to the President on our client; individual petitions submitted to the panel against our client. Our client observes that rather being afforded copies of the allegations against him, some of these allegations are flying round on social media platforms with prejudicial consequences. Our client requests that these allegations be formally served on him to enable him respond to same immediately.
“Our client observes that the panel has issued official statement to the effect that it did not authorise the detention of our client. We request the Panel to recommend to the Inspector General of Police in whose custody our client is to release him from custody to enable him adequately prepare his defence and attend to his failing health. We plead with the authorities to release our client from custody.”
While complaining about the media trial, Shittu also dismissed every allegations against Magu, including the said attempt to “spirit” him away from custody, adding that the charges were “trumped-up allegations designed to tarnish his image and rubbish the credibility and image of EFCC which has been stellar and outstanding under our client’s watch.”
Meanwhile, President Buhari has approved the suspension of the Secretary of the EFCC, Olanipekun Olukoyede, over his alleged involvement in the series of allegations rocking the commission.
Sources in the commission, told Daily Sun that the suspension was the first in the series of more to come. It was also learnt that so far, the secretary and 11 directors have been suspended and may be arrested.
The source further revealed that the suspended secretary and directors, are expected to be detained by the presidential panel investigating him.
Olukoyede emerged the EFCC Secretary in November 2018, following the Senate confirmation.
He was also the Chief of Staff to Magu and was nominated by President Buhari in 2018 to replace Emmanuel Aremo, whose five-year tenure expired the same year.