Salami panel digs beyond Magu

The Justice Ayo Salami panel investigating allegations of infractions against the suspended Economic and Financial Crimes Commission’s (EFCC) chairman, Ibrahim Magu, has been given absolute freedom by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe and recommend whatever can lead to a complete overhaul of the commission.

Magu first appeared before the committee, led by the former president of the Court of Appeal on Monday to respond to charges of alleged discrepancies in the reconciliation records on recovered funds, insubordination, disobeying court orders, among others.

The suspended EFCC chairman, who was hauled before the panel sitting at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa by a team of security agents, has been answering questions from its members through sessions lasting many hours daily.

A senior government official disclosed to Daily Trust Saturday yesterday that the president did not set a limit to the committee and has given it absolute freedom to recommend to him, not just on issues relating to Magu, but other areas that could help turn the anti-graft body around.

It was for that reason that the panel expanded its scope and sent invitations to some directors and senior management staff of the EFCC, who appeared before it on Thursday, Daily Trust Saturday gathered.

Heads of departments of the commission were asked to submit detailed report of their activities from 2015 when Magu was appointed chairman, just as other staff in the Asset Forfeiture and Procurement and Finance department were asked to provide receipts, serial numbers of all recovered assets and tender records.

The Federal Government, which set up the panel, has not disclosed its terms of reference.

But the top government official said the scope of the probe was not being limited to Magu, adding that it would also target other general issues in the EFCC.

“The president did not set limit to the Salami committee. He instead gave them absolute freedom to recommend anything, not only about Magu, but on the commission in general. Whatever they recommend, the president will consider, and that is why they are expanding the scope of their work beyond Magu,” he said.

President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the immediate suspension of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the EFCC.

The Attorney General of the Federal (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made this known in a statement by his media aide, Dr Umar Gwandu, on Friday.

He said the approval was “to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.”

While Magu continues to face the panel, Malami said President Buhari had also approved that the EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, should take charge and oversee the activities of the commission, pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regard.

The suspended acting EFCC chairman yesterday asked Inspector General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu for bail on self-recognition following days of detention.

In a letter by his lawyer, Tosin Ojaomo, dated July 10, 2020, Magu denied the allegations leveled against him. The letter added that Magu had “provided both documentary and oral evidence to clear the air on all the allegations.”

Magu has been facing a presidential investigative panel chaired by former president of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, following his invitation on July 6 and is believed to be detained at the Force Criminal Investigation Department in Abuja.

“Our decision to write this application to your office is premised on your declaration and avowed commitment at your inauguration as the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the constitutional rights of all Nigerians are protected under your leadership.

This has been severally demonstrated by your recent directives to all police formations in Nigeria not to detain any suspect for any offence which is bailable in nature due to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging the world, which Nigeria is not exempted from.

In view of the bailable nature of the allegations levelled against our client, we hereby apply that you grant him an administrative bail, pending the completion of investigation, so that he can adequately prepare himself for defence in accordance with the relevant provision of the constitution

Finally, if our application for bail on sell-recognition is not acceptable, we are ready to provide a credible surety that will ensure the availability of our client anytime he is needed for the purpose of this investigation,” Ojaomo stated

Those copied in the letter are the president, Federal Republic of Nigeria; the chairman, Presidential Probe Panel on the Activities of the EFCC, Justice Ayo Salami; the chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC); the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of investigation, Area 10.

Operatives of the State Security Service also searched his houses in Karu and Maitama.