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Panel: Magu unable to account for 332 recovered properties

The travails of the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, appear to be multiplying by the day as indications have emerged that he has so far failed to give proper account of 332 properties out of the 836 real estate assets recovered by the anti-graft agency in March 2018.

 

A report by the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) indicated that the missing property was worth billions of naira.

 

The PCARA observed that EFCC made conflicting submissions to it in respect of the non-cash assets which substantially affected the committee’s assignment.

 

The report read in part: “For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of recovered real estate in the original returns it made to the President on 07/04/2017.

 

However, in its 1st Returns to PCARA on 13/12/2017, EFCC short-changed the system and gave the figure of 339, thereby failing to account for 497 property.

 

“It is interesting to note that when the Acting Chairman was further queried on this lapse, he made further contradictory 2nd return of 504 on 09/03/2018, thereby bridging the gap to 332 property.”

 

Magu, who is currently facing charges of corruption and lack of transparency in the management of recovered assets as well as flagrant disobedience to official directives and court orders, would be expected to provide answers to the conflicting figures.

 

The report also showed massive wastage of recovered physical assets, including landed property, cars and vessels and blamed the deterioration on poor management. It also noted with concern the failure of the EFCC to preserve the economic value of the recovered assets, some of which were recovered over 15 years ago, but left to rot away.

 

“A disturbing example is the two vessels that allegedly sunk at NNS Beecroft Naval BASE, Lagos and NNS Pathfinder Naval Base in Port Harcourt without trace under the watch of the acting Chairman of EFCC.

 

“The vessels, named MT GOOD SUCCESS, MV PSV DERBY and MV THAMES were allowed to sink in spite of several warnings from the Navy on the need to evacuate the petroleum products in the vessels.

 

“The total value of the assets lost due to the negligence runs into millions of US dollars.

 

The suspended acting Chairman is yet to provide a report on what happened to these vessels,” the report said.

 

The PCARA report, according to the by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), also noted that the few consultants hired by EFCC were not managing a substantial number of the recovered assets and that the EFCC had no capacity to manage the entire assets on its own.

 

The committee stated that this negligence of duty on the part of the EFCC have economic and environmental implications on these.

 

It also identified lack of internal control mechanisms within EFCC and lack of adequate returns by the Commission’s Departments and Zonal Offices as reasons for the discrepancies and inconsistencies in its records.

 

Magu was also alleged to have refused to comply with the regulations on the Management of Recovered Assets, 2019 and rather embarked on disposing some of the property without regard to extant law.

 

“These Regulations was issued in line with international best practices and to ensure that all the anticorruption agencies report all their recovered assets in a database provided by the Federal Government.

 

“It is important to note that the (suspended) Acting Chairman, in apparent disregard of the regulation, is disposing of these properties without regard to extant laws, and Regulations and without reference to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and in effect, there is no way to have an audit of the property.

 

“This is also a clear sign that there is a deliberate attempt to hide the exact figures of recoveries, which is an indication of fraudulent intent.

 

“These actions of the (suspended) Ag. Chairman in refusing the Regulation is a clear case of refusal to follow lawful instructions and directives, contrary to the provisions of the Act that establish the EFCC,” a separate report on the matter, addressed to the president said.

 

The report alleged that Magu, in connivance with some top officials of EFCC, were using these recovered assets to corruptly enrich themselves.

 

The report also listed the number of the affected properties suspected to have been illegally acquired as well as the bank accounts of those individuals serving as fronts for Magu and the affected EFCC officials.

 

“Most of the recovered assets are allegedly sold without anyone knowing and without proper records and without recourse to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that has the mandate to undertake evaluation of such property.

 

“Some of the assets have been taken over by EFCC officials while some are sold at a giveaway prices to friends and cronies of the Acting Chairman. “It is also on record that the (suspended) acting chairman is maintaining different accounts, including using proxies who return the benefit of the sold assets to him.

 

“These funds are then used to procure property and lands in the names of some of his proxies,” the report further stated.

 

A separate report by another investigative committee set up to look into the activities of the EFCC under Magu, has accused him of turning the anti-graft agency into a ‘glorified police station’ for selfish motives.

 

In the report submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari, the committee said that Magu continued seconding police officers to the EFCC in spite of the massive recruitment of officers and men by the commission in recent years.

 

“He does not have any exit strategy for the police, even though the EFCC officers are more experienced in the investigation of economic and financial crimes,” the report said.

 

Meanwhile, some directors and sectional heads of the EFCC will re-appear before the Presidential Investigation Panel today.

 

New Telegraph gathered that these officials who were quizzed by the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel last week, but could not provide satisfactory answers to some questions, have been requested to return for further interrogation.

 

They are expected to appear with relevant documents to buttress the evidence they will be giving during today’s session.

 

A source close to the panel disclosed that during their earlier appearance, the EFCC officials denied any involvement in all the allegations levelled against their suspended boss, indicating that only Magu could provide answers to all allegations of financial impropriety against him.

 

According to the source, the panel, therefore, requested them to go back and prepare to clear their names with documentary evidence relating to all transactions allegedly authorized by Magu.

 

It could be recalled that the panel had, last week, quizzed the Secretary to the EFCC, Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede and other directors of the organisation.

 

Others who were grilled at the Banquet Hall, Aso Rock venue of the probe were the “Magu Boys,” a special squad of operatives believed to be solely loyal to the suspended anti-graft boss who allegedly used them for dirty jobs.

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