By Uche Amunike
The Salami Panel that probed the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu has confirmed that he abandoned N118 billion fraud cases and another $309 million fraud case.
The final report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari in Nov 2020 also detailed that another N48 billion loot recovered in local and foreign currencies were also not remitted by him.
When Ibrahim Magu was in charge of the agency, the panel, which was headed by former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (rtd), was set up to probe the EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020.
The panel has submitted their report to the Office of the Secretary to the State Government of the Federation, while the panel to produce the white paper will be set up soon.
Ibrahim Magu allegedly mishandled the recovered loot and also sold seized assets to his associates.
When contacted, his lawyer, Wayab Shittu refused to react to the report, saying that he would not comment on a report he hadn’t seen.
The report reviewed written and oral testimonies of over 100 witnesses after overtaking nationwide physical verification of recovered forfeited assets that consist of real estate automobiles, vessels, non-cash and cash assets.
The review of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets, PCARA, showed that the EFCC gave figures that contradicted with the total number of recovered real estate.
It partly read: ‘The EFCC under the watch of the suspended Ag. Chairman in its submission to PCARA reported N46,038,882,509.87 as being the foreign currency equivalent recovered by the commission between May 29, 2015, and November 22, 2018.
‘The EFCC, however, only produced evidence of lodgements of N37,533,764,195.66, leaving a shortfall of N8,505,118,314.21.
‘The EFCC reported to PCARA a total naira recovery of N504,154,184,744.04; the actual bank lodgement of the naira recoveries was, however, N543,511.792,863.47.’
‘That EFCC failed to produce before PCARA the evidence/record of the difference of N39,357,608,119.43.’
‘The EFCC, in its returns on non-cash assets, made to the president on April 7, 2017, declared 836 as the total number of recovered real estates, while in its first and second returns to PCARA, it rendered contradictory figures of 339 on 13/12/2017, leaving a difference of 497 and 504 on 9/3/2018, with a difference of 332.’
‘Between 2016 and 2019, fourteen (14) procurement fraud cases involving N117,972,209,035 and $309,151,419 were abandoned under Mr Ibrahim Magu’s watch.’
Another observation made by the commission’s findings is that Ibrahim Magu made prosecutional decisions based on his personal whims on case files, as against the law and facts. There was also widespread corruption, impunity and an abuse of power employed by him in running the anti-graft commission.
According to the panel, records of forfieted assets were also, not properly kept under Ibrahim Magu’s watch.
It further read: ‘“In 2016, Magu halted the process of disposing of two finally forfeited vessels, MT Good Success with 1,459 metric tons of PMS; and MT Askaris with 3,423,097 metric tons of crude…the cargoes eventually sank…Magu also asked the navy to release two vessels conveying illegally refined AGO to their owners,” the panel said.
“Thirteen water vehicles (vessels) handed over to the EFCC by the Nigerian Navy, out of a total number of 154 vessels, have submerged (sunk) with tons of contents.
“The submissions made by the EFCC before the commission shows that, from inception to date, the total number of non-cash assets recovered under final forfeiture was 3133. The analysis of the recoveries shows that some of the assets were disposed of, forfeited to a third party or negligently lost. The commission conducted physical verification of recovered assets across the country from 1st-27th October 2020.
‘The outcome of the exercise was revealing as some of the forfeited assets have been lost, deteriorated, physically possessed by the suspects, or could not be traced and in some instances remain in occupation years after their final forfeiture.’
‘The EFCC reported disposal of 275 real estate, the judicial commission only confirmed 76 disposal’, the report added