Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, has explained why he declined to submit himself to the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, to answer questions about his assets.
Magu, through his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, said it would be “impracticable” for him to face the CCB, when some documents relating to his declared assets, were inside his office as at the time he was arrested on the order of the Justice Isa Ayo Salami-led Presidential Judicial Commission of Inquiry that probed sundry allegations that were levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, SAN.
He alleged that some of the documents the CCB asked him to produce before it, were carted away by officers of the Department of State Service, DSS, at the behest of the investigative panel, while he was in detention.
Consequently, Magu said it would be impossible for him to answer to questions or produce documents that are in possession of the DSS and the panel. In the alternative, he urged the Bureau to extend the invitation it issued to him, pending the return of the documents to him.
It will be recalled that the CCB had in a letter dated November 2, requested Magu whom it described as “former Chairman” of the EFCC, to appear before it with documents of all his landed properties, both developed and undeveloped.
He was equally directed to produce acknowledgment slips of all the asset declarations he made since he joined public service.
The CCB, in the letter that was signed by its Director of Intelligence, Investigation & Monitoring, Gwimi S. P, stressed that all the requested documents must be the Certified True Copies, CTC.
Other documents the ousted EFCC boss was ordered to make available to the Bureau, included copies of his Appointment Letter, Acceptance, Records of Service and Pay Slips from January to May, 2020.
The Bureau said it was investigating a case of alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, that was brought against Magu.
It said the summon was made pursuant to the mandate and power of the CCB, as enshrined in the 3 Schedule, Part 1, Paragraph 3 (e) to the 1999 Constituton of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended; Section 137 (a) and (b) and 138 (a) and (b) of Penal Code Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and Section 104 of evidence Act 2011.
Statutorily, the CCB, has the powers to investigate allegations of infractions in asset declaration as well as breach of the code of conduct by public officers.
At the end of such investigation, public officers that are found wanting, are referred to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, for prosecution.
Upon conviction by the CCT, such public officer could among other sanctions, be made to forfeit assets to the Federal Government, or barred from holding any public office for a period of 10 years.
Meanwhile, Magu failed to appear before the CCB on November 17 as directed.
A top source in the Bureau had disclosed to Vanguard that other options were being considered against him. However, explaining why he did not honour the invitation, the suspended EFCC boss, in a statement that was signed by his lawyer, which he made available to journalists on Sunday, November 22, 2020, said he wrote two separate letters to the CCB Chairman to intimate him about his inability to “have access to the relevant documents as required”.
He said his attention was drawn to some reports in the media that he shunned the invitation but the CCB.
The statement read: “Our attention has been drawn to certain media report where it was reported that our client, the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, shunned the invitation of the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB.
“We wish to state that our client did not shun the CCC invitation as the media reportage did not reflect the true position of the narrative.
“We wish to state with high sense of responsibility that we have written two letters to the Chairman of the CCB, intimating him about the inability of our client to have access to the relevant documents as required by the CCB.
“The letters, which were dated November 16 and 17, 2020, were addressed to the CCB Chairman.
“The letters were titled- Re: Investigation of Activities- Letter of Invitation, Breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
“Please note that the letters were stamped and acknowledged by the office of the CCB Chairman on the said date of November 17, 2020.
“We also wish to state the said letters were copied to the Director of Intelligence, Investigation, and Monitoring while the letters were also stamped and acknowledged by his office.
“Explaining the inability of our client to honour the invitation, we stated as follows: “Your letter dated November 2, 2020, with reference No.-CCB/HQ/II & M/007/2093 addressed to our client has been passed unto us to respond to as follows: “In the referred letter, our client was requested to appear before your distinguished body on Tuesday, November 17, 2020, at 11am prompt concerning the above subject matter.
“We have firm instructions to inform your distinguished body that our client, regrettably will not be able to honour today’s invitation in view of certain circumstances beyond his control.
“Our client’s inability to honour your invitation is as a result of his inability to access his office and the requested documents since his suspension from office.
“We wish to inform you that the documents which you requested for and other personal documents are still in his personal office where he has been denied access up to date.
The relevant documents include: “Acknowledgement slips of all Magu’s assets declaration to the Code of Conduct since he joined Public service.
“Copies of his Appointment Letter, Acceptance, Records of Service, and payslips from January to May, 2020.
3. All title documents of his landed properties both developed and undeveloped. “We request that the invitation to our client be extended pending the conclusion of the exercise of the mandate of the presidential Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up against our client and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“This request has become necessary since most of the documents requested by your Bureau, were removed from our client’s offices by the Department of State Security Service, DSS, and the request of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry in the absence of our client while our client was in detention.
“Based on the foregoing, it would be impossible for our client to answer your questions and provide those documents which are in the possession of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the Department of State Security Service, DSS.
“We therefore kindly request your distinguished body to graciously extend the invitation extended to our client pending the return of our client’s documents (which you requested).
“We further wish to inform you that we are writing a letter to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, requesting it to direct the Acting EFCC boss to allow our client access to the relevant documents.
“Please note that there is a need for our client to have access to the relevant documents in order to prepare for his defence to your invitation.
“In the circumstances, until such a time when our client gains access to his personal file in his office where most of the requested documents are, it is impracticable to honour your invitation, even if our client is willing to do so as an obedient and patriotic citizen”.
CCB’s summon on Magu came about four months after he was suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari following corruption allegations that were levelled against him by the AGF, Malami, SAN. The presidential probe panel had recently submitted its investigative report on the allegations to President Buhari.
Some of the allegations against Magu bordered on abuse of office and mismanagement of Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances from May 2015 to May 2020. He was among other things, accused by the AGF of “not acting in the overall best interest of the country”.
Malami insisted that in the EFCC under Magu, there was “mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets; diversion of recovered assets for personal enrichment”.
He further accused Magu of “neglecting to Investigate the P&ID case as directed by the President;
“Flagrant disobedience to directives and to Court Orders due to the following; Final Report Of The Presidential Committee on Audit Of Recovered Assets, PCARA: Mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets”.