By Obinna Amaobi
Ibrahim Magu’s fate remains uncertain five months after the submission of the report of the Justice Ayo Salami Judicial Panel of Inquiry on the former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to President Muhammadu Buhari.
There have been concerns about the fate of Magu after the appointment and confirmation of Abdulrasheed Bawa as the new Executive Chairman of EFCC in February.
Although sources in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), said the panel faulted some procedures in the management of recovered assets under Magu, the presidential white paper on the report was yet to be announced.
One of Magu’s lawyers, Tosin Ojaomo, informed Daily Trust that Magu remained in the service of the Nigeria Police Force (NPF) though the police was yet to post him anywhere after his suspension as EFCC chairman.
Magu has not been sighted in uniform or in any police command five months after his removal as EFCC boss.
Two previous EFCC chief executives, Nuhu Ribadu (2003-2007) and Ibrahim Lamorde (2011-2015) seconded from the police returned to police service after being removed from the EFCC.
Part of the recommendations of the Salami panel, which sat from June to November, 2020, is for consideration of other law enforcement agencies in the appointment of the chairman of EFCC as provided under the EFCC Act 2004.
The panel also recommended an exit plan for 970 policemen comprising 114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 others (operations) on secondment to the EFCC to address the issue of lack of promotion of core staff of the agency for over nine years.
The report of the panel reads in part: “Your Excellency, our thinking here is that whoever you are appointing other than a core EFCC staff should be in transitional capacity of two years during which period arrangement would be made for appointment of any of the core staff who has been commended by the National Crime Agency (NCA), UK, and other international law enforcement for their professionalism.”
The panel said Magu appeared during its hearing alongside 113 witnesses and that it received 46 petitions and memoranda against the former acting chairman and the commission from individuals and organisations.
Findings at the EFCC revealed that although Magu’s name is no longer on the payroll of the commission, he is still with the police.
Born on May 5, 1962, Magu is due to retire from the police on the same date next year when he would have attained the age of 60.
An official of the commission who spoke under condition of anonymity, said: “He is one of the Commissioners of Police (CPs) in the NPF. He’s yet to retire since he has not clocked 35 years in service or 60 years of age as spelt out in the condition of service.
“Though he has not been deployed for a new assignment by the Inspector General of Police (IGP) after his travails as acting EFCC chief, I’m sure his entitlements have not been stopped for any reason.”
When asked for his whereabouts, the official said, “I can confirm to you that he’s still in the country, but staying largely at home. As of now, he can’t travel out of the country despite the fact that he has been removed finally.”
The spokesman of the commission, Wilson Uwuajaren, told one of our correspondents on phone that he would not want to speak on any matter concerning the former helmsman of the anti-graft agency.
He remains suspended, administrative processes ongoing – AGF
Malami, in his reaction through his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, on Friday, said Magu remained suspended as EFCC chairman.
He said, “Other administrative processes are being carried out including study and consideration of the report submitted by the judicial commission of inquiry.”
He is still in police service – Legal team
Reacting, a counsel in Magu’s legal team, Ojaomo, confirmed that Magu was still on the payroll of the police, and that he would surely be posted because the allegations against him were not proven.
“Since the AGF, who was the accuser, failed to appear before the judicial panel led by Justice Ayo Salami to substantiate the allegations; don’t forget that the panel issued a subpoena requesting the AGF to come forward and prove the allegations, but he declined.
“It is a fundamental legal principle that he who alleges must prove. Where the accuser fails to prove his allegations, it definitely buries the allegations.
“The IGP will soon post Magu when there is a special assignment for him. He is back to the police force since the appointment of a new chairman by the president,” the lawyer said.
Case shows FG’s tardy, directionless – Ozekhome
A constitutional lawyer, Mike Ozekhome (SAN), said the uncertainty over Magu’s status was “consistent with the present administration’s tardy and directionless approach to matters of urgent national importance” .
He said it was Magu’s alleged indictment by the Salami panel that might have informed the appointment of a new substantive Chairman of the EFCC, adding that it was a disservice to the nation for the report of the panel not to be made public and acted upon to guide the future conduct of other officials.
He further said, “If there were serious cases against him of corruption, infractions, which were criminal in nature, then why is he not being prosecuted by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation under Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution?
“If Magu had been indicted, then what is he still doing in the Nigeria Police Force which is supposed to be peopled by men and women of integrity who have not been indicted one way or the other? Why has the government not taken a decision either to retire him or retain him and post him to another division?”
But a Lagos lawyer, Paul Ananaba (SAN), said he viewed the Magu impasse as an employer-employee relationship which should not occupy too much public attention since there were more serious issues bedeviling the country.
Ananaba said, “His employers are not complaining (that he is collecting salary without working) and he is not complaining himself. If Magu had said that he has been victimised, then it is a different situation. But he has not said so, instead he is waiting for government to post him. So, we should allow government time. We should not poke our noses into everything.”
Source: The Nation