Juliana Taiwo-Obalonye, Abuja
The Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) office broken into on Thursday’s midnight has been linked to suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
At least seven computers containing sensitive financial information were taken away from the NFIU’s and others badly damaged.
The NFIU was severed from the EFCC following the suspension of Nigeria by the Egmont Group in 2017.
One of the grounds for the suspension was that the Nigeria financial intelligence unit (NFIU) was not independent.
Nigeria’s failure to comply with the group’s demands for a legal framework granting autonomy to the NFIU by January 2018, the country would have been expelled from the global body which provides the backbone for monitoring international money laundering activities.
If the group had expelled Nigeria, the country would not have been be able to benefit from financial intelligence shared by the other 153 member countries, including the US and the UK, while the country’s ability to recover stolen funds abroad would also have been hampered.
The Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential investigative panel on the allegations levelled against Magu is probing him based on the discoveries made by officials of NFIU, who revealed his alleged link to a Kaduna-based Bureau de Change found to have made transactions of N336 billion, $435 million and 14 million Euros.
Magu again appeared before the panel on Friday from 10:30 to about 7pm, when they closed for the day.
The panel was said to have taken a break and paid the Chief or Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Gambari, to give an update on the NFIU office attack and the links to Magu.
The suspended EFCC boss is expected to provide answers about his links with the Bureau de Change and the huge amount of money in its possession, a Lagos-based lawyer who was also said to have collected the sum of N28 million from the Kaduna-based Bureau de Change.
He is also to to explain his relationship with a relatively unknown Lagos-based pastor found with N573 million in his account.
The pastor is believed to be a close associate of the former EFCC boss.
According to a trusted source with knowledge of the investigation: “From the issues before the committee, there are two big issues concerning Bureau de Change being allegedly linked to Magu in Kaduna; that Bureau De Change has been discovered by the NFIU to have transacted business in the region of N336 billion, $435 million and about 14 million Euros.
“There is one other allegation against Magu that there is a little-known pastor in Lagos associated with him that was discovered to have N573 million in his account.
“And again, there is also a famous lawyer in Lagos, he has taken N28 million from the Bureau de Change.”
The panel has been sitting for over three weeks scrutizing the corruption allegation from the Attorney General of the Federation Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami against the embattled ex-EFCC boss.
President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday finally approved Magu’s suspension from office.