*Probe tears PACAC apart, Malami accused of stalling anti-corruption fight
*Sagay distances self from defending him, detained at FCID
Head of operations of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Sani Mohammed, was yesterday strongly tipped to take charge at the anti-corruption agency just as the Karu and Maitama, Abuja houses of its embattled acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, were searched
They are his private house in Karu and office in Maitama which were searched by the State Security Service (SSS) or Department of State Services.(DSS).
Mohammed is a retired deputy inspector-general of police (DIG).
The development came as a presidency source yesterday told State House correspondents in Abuja that the probe of the anti-graft boss was an affirmation that nobody under “the present administration is above scrutiny.’’
Seeking anonymity, the source, who could neither confirm nor deny the suspension of Magu as reported by traditional and social media outfits, maintained that the investigation was to reinforce the Buhari administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
He affirmed that the holder of an elevated office such as the chairman of the EFCC must be above suspicion.
According to the source, the Buhari administration would not prejudge anyone because it can be counted on to uphold justice and fairness.
The source said: “The panel investigating allegations against the Acting EFCC Chairman had been sitting for some weeks now.
“In consonance with the principle of fairness and justice, it was needful that the Acting Chairman be given the 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 an inalienable part of democracy. In such an elevated position as that of EFCC Chairman, the holder of the position must be above suspicion.
“There’s no prejudgment — absolutely none. The Buhari administration can be counted on to uphold fairness and justice at all times.”
A presidency source had earlier confirmed that Magu was on Tuesday afternoon suspended from office following the ongoing investigation by the presidential panel, headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami.
The probe has torn the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) apart with its chairman, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), distancing himself from a statement issued by a member, Prof. Femi Odekunle, who is defending Magu.
Odekunle said in what he considered a preliminary reaction of the PACAC to the alleged ‘arrest’ thus:
“Of course, the real information reaching us is that he was only invited to appear before a Panel set up not long ago concerning some alleged memo by Malami, Attorney General and Minister of justice, regarding some alleged malfeasance by Magu, along with nominations for his replacement.
“It was just that those sent to invite him for whatever reasons best known to them invited some press along and made it look an arrest. That mischief has been confirmed by some apparent afterthought denial by the DSS that it was not an arrest.
“While PACAC has not had a formal meeting on this development, I have discussed with the Chairman and some other members and the following can be considered as PACAC’s preliminary reaction to this development, he wrote.
“The alleged originating Malami memo, up to the current “arrest “ seems an outcome of power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power in which Malami appears to be an arrow-head or major agent of a power bloc that is not really interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
” i. One can recall the earlier non-confirmation experience of Magu by the 8th Assembly, orchestrated by a power bloc and supported by the DSS ‘Security’ reports.
“ii. One can also note the non-resubmission of Magu for confirmation since May, 2019 despite the apparent willingness of the 9th Assembly to consider it this time around.
“iii. Furthermore, one must take cognisance of the alleged memo referred to earlier i.e by Malami concerning alleged corrupt practices by Magu, along with his own nominations for Magu’s replacement.
“iv. Again, we cannot forget Malami’s demand of certain high profile case files from Magu which the latter has been resisting.
“The position of PACAC is that while Magu, or any official of whatever status, must be nailed if found to be corrupt, the President must be careful not to shoot its anti-corruption fight /modest achievements in the foot, and not to forget that EFCC under Magu has been the Administration’s anti-corruption poster-face.
“It may not be contestable that Malami has been exploiting his alleged loyalty and closeness to the President for his personal /power bloc agenda.
“For, to the best of PACAC’s knowledge and observations, Malami has not manifested any genuine commitment to the anti-corruption fight.
Samplers: The nolle- prosequi entered in a case of corruption against Orubebe in relation to alleged malfeasance while Minister of Niger Delta Ministry;
his secret meeting with fugitive Maina in Dubai under whatever guise/ excuse;
his involvement in the surreptitious reinjection of the same Maina into the Civil Service; his supervision of Obono-Oblas’ kangaroo Asset Recovery outfit which Obono subsequently ran out of the country when exposed by some ICPC investigation;
his non-due attention, by design or default, to the P&ID matter since 2015 until it was blown open by humongous financial damage to the country; etc.
“Notwithstanding the situation at hand, the hope of PACAC is that the President would wake up to the ongoing shenanigans of power players that are working from the inside against his anti-corruption fight.
“We are also counting on the experience and dexterity of the new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari whose loyalty to the President and good of the country cannot be doubted, and we also hope that the demonstrated integrity of retired Justice Salami would carry the day for thoroughness, fairness and justice in the interest of the anti-corruption fight.
But Sagay though a supporter of Magu distanced himself from the statement.
Sagay said in a statement issued by PACAC Communications Officer, Aghogho Agbahor, that Odekunle spoke for himself.
“The attention of the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption has been drawn to a statement circulating in the media space credited to one of its members Prof Femi Odekunle.
“The press release is the personal opinion of the member under whose name it was released and not that of the committee. If the committee consistent with its mandate has any view on the matter, it will be channelled to the President and not to the media.”
Meanwhile, contrary to report that Magu was grilled for six hours on Monday and allowed to go home, he spent the night in police station .
The panel was constituted by President Muhammadu Buhar following a memorandum from the Attorney General of the Federation.
Magu was detained at the Force Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters in Area 10, Garki, Abuja after the initial questioning on Monday.
The interrogation continued yesterday. The panel is questioning Magu on 14-point allegations of corruption and insubordination levelled against him by the Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN).
The panel is seeking to unravel the alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records of the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Finance on recovered funds, his declaration of N539b as recovered funds instead of N504b earlier claimed and insubordination to the Office of the AGF , details of which were said to have been listed in Malami’s memorandum.
He is also being questioned for not providing enough evidences for the extradition of Diezani Alison-Madueke, alleged late action on the investigation of P&ID illegalities that has resulted in a legal dispute that led to the award of $9.6bn dollars against the Federal Government.
He also is accused of not respecting court order to unfreeze a N7b judgment in favour of a former executive director of a bank and delay in acting on two vessels seized by the Navy.
He is also said to be favouring some investigators called Magu Boys in EFCC circles.
Other accusations are:
*His alleged reporting of some judges to their presiding officers without deferring to the AGF and insistence that some of them would not handle commission cases.
*The alleged sale of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends.
*Alleged disclosure of investigative activities to some media that were considered prejudicial to some cases.
Sources close to unfolding developments said Magu is also being hunted by integrity questions that voided his confirmation as substantive Chairman of EFCC in 2016.