A presidential panel investigating the suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has “seriously indicted” him of allegations of fraud, the News Agency of Nigeria reported Saturday.
Mr Magu was arrested on Tuesday and has since then been interrogated by the panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami on allegations of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by the commission.
He was later suspended and has since remained in custody.
In his first public reaction to the Magu case, President Muhammadu Buhari on Saturday said there were serious allegations of fraud against the EFCC chief, and the administration acted after a preliminary review of the accusations.
“There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system,” the president said through his spokesperson, Garba Shehu.
Citing the report of the Salami panel, the state-owned news agency, NAN, said the report revealed how interest rates accruing from N550 billion recovered by the EFCC in the period under review was allegedly re-looted.
NAN said the panel’s report that covered the period of May 29, 2015, to Nov. 22, 2018, also confirmed the concerns of the public about contradictory recovery figures emanating from Mr Magu.
“It is quite disturbing that conflicting figures are being circulated in the public space by EFCC as the amount of recovered funds,” it quoted the report as saying.
“For Foreign currency recoveries, EFCC reported a total naira equivalent of N46,038,882,509.87, while the naira equivalent of the foreign currency lodgments were N37,533,764,195.66, representing a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.
“These inconsistencies cast a serious doubt on the accuracy of figures submitted by the EFCC. It is the committee’s view that the EFCC cannot be said to have fully accounted for cash recoveries made by it.
“While EFCC reported total Naira recoveries of N504,154,184,744.04, the actual bank lodgments were N543,511,792,863.47. These discrepancies mean that EFCC’s actual lodgment exceeded its reported recoveries by N39,357,608,119.43.
“It must be pointed out that the discrepancy of more than thirty nine billion naira does not include interest accrued in this account since it was opened.
“It therefore cast serious doubt on the credibility of the figures and means that substantial amount of money has not been accurately accounted for.
“Failure to report on the interest on actual lodgments clearly establishes that interest element of over N550 billion has been re-looted relating to the period under review.
This is an apparent case of manipulation of data in a very brazen and unprofessional manner and this has greatly eroded the public confidence in the anti-corruption efforts,’’ the report stated in part.
NAN also reports that the report revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Mr Magu.
“The NFIU reports established that the Acting Chairman has been using different sources to siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases collecting bribes from suspects.
The report said a particular Bureau de Change linked to the Acting Chairman based in Kaduna has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of funds.
It also said N28 million was paid to a senior lawyer who is a close associate of the Acting Chairman.
NAN reports that the Salami probe panel is expected to continue sitting on Monday while Mr Magu’s lawyer, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, had on Friday applied for an administrative bail for his client, who is facing corruption and other charges before the panel.