The Presidential Investigation Panel probing the stewardship of the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, expanded the scope of its investigation yesterday as it grilled some top officials of the anti-corruption agency.
At the resumed sitting of the panel yesterday, Magu appeared alongside the Secretary of the Commission, Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, and some directors of the agency.
The Director of Operations, Mr. Mohammed Umar, a Deputy Commissioner of Police; Director of Assets Forfeiture in charge of Directorate of Assets Forfeiture and Management; and zonal/sectional heads were interrogated by the panel.
A source told New Telegraph that a former Director of Operations, who had left the commission, also faced the panel.
They were all grilled by the panel sitting at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
It was the fourth day Magu will be appearing before the panel since he was picked up on Monday after allegedly evading the panel and shunning two previous invitations.
Magu has remained in police custody at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Area 10, Garki, in the last four days.
He is currently facing a 22-count allegation of financial impropriety brought against him by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).
The embattled Commissioner of Police was accompanied to yesterday’s session by his lawyer, Kanu Agabi (SAN), who incidentally was the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s era.
The investigation panel, which is headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, also grilled the notorious “special squad” in the EFCC, code named “Magu Boys” as part of efforts to establish the veracity of the allegations against them.
The “special squad” operatives have been accused of committing several infractions in the course of their operations in the last five years.
They were alleged to have been involved in unethical acts such as blackmailing suspects, extortion, appropriating exhibits to themselves and selling off seized assets without remitting the proceeds to the designated government accounts.
Magu’s travails began on Monday when he was arrested by security operatives and brought before the high powered presidential panel.
Following the ongoing investigations, there have been unconfirmed reports that Magu had been suspended and replaced by Mohammed Umar, a Deputy Commissioner of Police.
Both the suspension and purported replacement of Magu as the EFCC boss have yet to be officially confirmed by the Presidency.
In the meantime, Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has denied the allegation that he collected a bribe of N4 billion from Magu in order to give him (Magu) a soft landing as reported by an online medium.
Osinbajo has, however, through his counsel, Prof. Taiwo Osipintan (SAN), petitioned the Inspector-General of Police over alleged criminal defamation by one Jackson Ude.
In the letter dated July 8 and obtained by New Telegraph, Osipintan noted that the said Jackson Ude is an online journalist who publishes under the pen name of PointBlank.
He said that on July 8, Ude wrote and published on his website, materials/stories which are criminally defamatory.
According to him, “In the said online criminally defamatory publication titled, “How Magu embezzled N39 billion, gave Osinbajo N4 billion, begs for soft landing…”, Mr. Ude wrote and caused to be published the following about our client and the Acting Chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, embattled former acting chairman of the EFCC.
“On the said 8th July, Mr. Ude also published criminally defamatory stories concerning/affecting our client on Twitter account with the handle @jackson pbn as follows:
‘HushBajo. N4billiom. The Ghana investment. Ikechukwu Enelemah the errand boy. The secretly recorded night vigil prayers at the Villa Chapel. The letter of resignation written for Buhari in Tunis by Tinubu/Osinbajo while Ba was sick. The scheming to take over. Etc. This na pay back’.
“The above referred malicious tweets and publications were made on a public platform on a Twitter account with over 40,000 followers, some of whom have re-tweeted same hundreds of times as at the time of writing this petition. In addition, the false allegations have elicited responses targeted at the Vice President ranging from shock, outrage to comments that cast aspersions on the integrity of the Vice President.
“These vicious and malicious publications are meant to achieve one objective only, to represent to his readership and others that our client is a dishonest and disloyal public officer and consequently unfit for the position of Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria which he is occupying.
“We are of the view that unless an action for criminal defamation is commenced against the said Mr. Ude, he will continue to use his social media platform to publish materials that are false and criminally defamatory of our client’s reputation.
“In view of the above, we humbly request that you cause the above allegations made against our client to be investigated and if the suggested investigation confirms our complaints of the falsehood of the allegations, to initiate a criminal proceedings pursuant to Sections 391-395 of the Penal Code Act for Criminal Defamation against the said Jackson Ude.”