Powerful forces, within and outside of government who are certainly not disposed to his continued stay in office, have intensified efforts to break down the defence lines of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu,
One of such moves, Saturday Sun learnt, is an ongoing discreet investigation into the true ownership of two mansions on different streets in high brow Maitama area of Abuja. The buildings are allegedly linked to his wife. A highly placed source told Saturday Sun that the houses being investigated are located in Danube Street, Maitama and Missouri Street, off Colorado Close, Ministers Hill, also in Maitama. The two properties were said to have been bought last year.
Saturday Sun could not confirm the veracity of the claims being investigated. It was also not clear whether it was the Department of State Services, DSS that was carrying out the probe or a team of private investigators hired by forces opposed to Magu. It is however, an open secret that the DSS had launched series of clandestine investigations into Magu’s activities in a bid to provide the Senate, a security report on him.
The source who declined to provide further details about the probe was however, certain that the investigation may lead to Magu’s arrest, a claim that suggests an official footprint. “The fresh probe of Magu’s alleged hidden assets was largely responsible for the latest DSS letter to the Senate reaffirming its earlier indictment that the EFCC boss lacks integrity”, the source added.
The EFCC boss has been having running battles with powerful forces opposed to his leadership of the foremost anti-graft agency, especially the DSS, which twice indicted him for failure to pass integrity test in two security reports. The Senate also had on two occasions rejected his nomination as the substantive Chairman of the Commission.
Magu however, has consistently maintained his innocence in the series of allegations against him, calling them cheap blackmail by those desperate to slow down the tempo of the nation’s anti-corruption war.
His denial of wrongdoing notwithstanding, the EFCC Chairman has another issue to contend with in the Senate. This has to do with the refusal of the Senate Committee on Foreign and Local Debts to approve a $200 million World Bank loan for the anti-graft agency and about six other MDAs under the Economic Reforms and Governance Project, ERGP.
The Committee, headed by Senator Shehu Sanni, it was gathered, has since the approval of the loan last year by the Federal Government, been tossing officials of the Commission up and down. The development, it was also learnt, may further hamper the work of the agency, which relies more on such funds for trainings, ICT projects and similar expenditures that have direct bearing on the mandate of the Commission.
When contacted, Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesman said he was not aware if any security agency was investigating Magu. “I don’t know what you are talking about. I don’t know the motive behind this question and I can’t say anything because I don’t know what you are talking about, please spare me because I don’t know,” he quipped.
A source in the EFCC however told Saturday Sun that any fresh allegation over ownership of property, against Magu is just a blackmail. The official said, “Magu has no hidden property anywhere, they are just going on a wild goose chase, which will fail just like the DSS had gone round but couldn’t bring out any concrete thing against the Chairman (Magu).”
Magu had in response to the query President Muhammadu Buhari ordered to be served him over allegations in the DSS report, queried the sincerity and motive of the Secret Service, which accused him of integrity deficiency and professional misconduct.
The DSS allegations blocked Magu’s confirmation as the substantive chairman of the EFCC, twice, as the agency repeatedly advised the Senate to reject his nomination because; “he has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”
After the Senate’s first rejection of Magu’s nomination in December last year, citing allegations made against him by the DSS, the President authorised the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to investigate the validity of the allegations.
In compliance, Malami, on December 19, asked Magu to “respond within 48 hours” to the DSS allegations.
In his response, on December 21, Magu said he considered all the issues raised against him and provided “point-by-point responses.” Contrary to the claim by the SSS that the residence Magu currently occupies was rented for him by “a questionable business man” at N40 million for two years, with another N43 million to “lavishly furnish” the apartment, the acting EFCC boss said “the entire cost for the two-year rent and the furnishing was N39.628million.”
The SSS had claimed the house was provided by one Mohammed Umar, a retired air commodore, being tried for money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
Magu further denied his “penchant for air travels” in a private jet belonging to Mr. Umar, but admitted he flew the said aircraft on two occasions.” According to Magu, the first time, he was given offer of ride from Kano to Abuja after an official assignment with two EFCC directors; the secong time was, when he had to travel to Maiduguri to meet his sick mother.
“These, for me, were harmless gestures as we were both members of the presidential investigative committee on arms procurement. At the time, I had no knowledge that he was under investigation for any alleged crimes,” the EFCC boss explained.
Further debunking claims that he is flamboyant, he said in one instance, he flew on a first class ticket with Emirate Airline to perform the lesser Hajj in Saudi Arabia, but argued that was not enough for the DSS to conclude he keeps extravagant lifestyle.
He added that he opted for first class because tickets for other classes had been sold out at the time, and that he funded the trip from his private pocket.
Although he did not disclose the fare for the pilgrimage, but the DSS report claimed it was N2,990,196 (about N3 million).
-Magu is a fraudulent officer and perennial offender, DSS tells AGF-
The Department of State Services, DSS has described the embattled Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu as a fraudulent officer and a perennial offender who would never change. The Security Service gave the damning verdict in a memo sent to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN in December when the AGF requested additional information and documents from the DSS over allegations contained in the Service’s security report on Magu to the Senate.
Attached to the DSS memo signed by one Folashade Bello on behalf of the Director General of the service were 12 annexures to back its findings on Magu.
According to the memo, a copy of which was sighted by Saturday Sun, “An officer appointed as Ag. Chairman of EFCC should by all means be one of impeccable credentials, with proven integrity and capacity to lead the nation’s fight against graft in high and low places.
“Thus far, it is evident from Magu’s antecedents that he is by no means that kind of officer. His relationship with Umar Mohammed, which involved disclosure of very sensitive and classified official documents in his possession shows lack of professionalism and assails his integrity.
“Moreso, for an officer who was indicted and nearly dismissed six (6) years ago, to be involved in similar circumstances again, it is clear that Magu is a perennial offender and cannot change.
“Also worthy of note is the fact that Magu exhibited a total lack of judgment where it mattered most. He accepted to move into a tastefully furnished accommodation without any scrutiny of how it was furnished. This is curious and speaks volumes of his personality.
“The recovery of sensitive and classified documents from the residence of Umar further underlays his close affinity to Magu and an apparent penchant for sabotaging official processes and administrative protocols, just to further the latter’s personal material and pecuniary agenda.
“Such mutually beneficial relationships as with Umar, who by his confession, approaches ‘clients’ for possible exploitation, favours and associated returns is unprecedented and very damning for an anti-graft top official. It has exposed Magu as a fraudulent officer and betrays the high confidence reposed in him by Mr. President.
“A further demonstration of Magu’s questionable credibility as an untainted anti-corruption official is his failed bid to settle personal scores with one Stanley Inye Lawson by placing him on Security Watch Action. It was however, discovered that Lawson was actually working in the interest of the Federal Government and the action was subsequently expunged.
“This reinforces the view that Magu may continue to exploit his official position if confirmed as EFCC Chairman, and indulge in other unprofessional and criminal conducts for personal aggrandizement contrary to his oath of office.”
Magu however, in his own memo to the AGF, has dismissed all the allegations against him by the DSS, saying the security service lacks credibility. Efforts to get EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren to react to the latest revelation failed as he declined to comment.