The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, has asked Nigerians to be prepared for surprises in the probe of Ibrahim Magu, former acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Speaking on Channels Television’s ‘Politics Today’ programme on Sunday, Shehu said the Presidency had been receiving some little updates from the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel and the findings would surprise Nigerians.
Responding to a question on claims by Magu’s lawyers that the probe was a witch-hunt, Shehu said, “I guess this is a question for the Justice Ayo Salami panel and I must say that panel is composed of some of this country’s most honoured people with integrity who will do the right thing,” he said.
“I am not going to pre-empt the panel investigation but I just advice Nigerians to hold their hearts in their hands. By the time they are done with this job and they come out with the reports prepare yourselves for surprises.
“I don’t know what will come out but if the sense we are getting from what is being done over there is anything to go by, I think that Nigerians should not be confused by any outbursts by anybody.”
The panel led by Salami is investigating Magu, following a memo by Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), in which the suspended anti-graft czar was accused of grave malfeasance.
Among the many allegations brought against Magu is that he bought a house in Dubai worth over N550m while the interest accrued to N550bn recovered funds could not be accounted for.
Magu was alleged to have mishandled recovered loot and to have sold seized assets to his associates.
Meanwhile, one of the Prosecutors with the Special Presidential Investigation Panel, SPIP, for Recovery of Public Property, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, has accused Malami of withholding approval for the prosecution of hundreds of assets forfeiture and other criminal cases.
The Prosecutor explained that the cases were investigated and handed over to the AGF’s Office by the SPIP, on the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari, in 2019.
He said when the President dissolved the SPIP in September 2019, he directed the AGF to immediately take over all outstanding investigations and other activities of the SPIP.
According to the Prosecutor, in November 2019, over 500 case files were retrieved from the office of the disbanded Panel, and an 8-man Panel was set up by the Department of Public Prosecutions, DPP, in the Ministry of Justice, to review the heaps of files, but Malami has failed to file the cases in court, in violation of the Presidential directive, and Section 1 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, ACJA, 2015.
He cited the case of two brothers, Ibrahim and Tijjani Tumsah, who he said allegedly retrieved without due process, 86 expensive vehicles, and real estate seized by the SPIP, on the orders of a Federal High Court.
They were said to have been retrieved under suspicious circumstances, and returned to two firms, Integrated Service Insurance Ltd and Integrated Bureau de Change Ltd, belonging to the Defendants, who were previously arraigned on two counts.
Ibrahim is a former Director of Finance and Administration, at the defunct Ministry of Power, Works and Housing, while his brother, Tijjani, is the former Vice Chairman of the dissolved Presidential Committee on North-East Initiative.
Tijjani was recently appointed as the interim National Secretary, of the All Progressives Congress, APC, National Caretaker Committee, headed by the Governor of Yobe State, Mai Mala Buni.
The siblings were investigated by the SPIP, chaired by Okoi Obono-Obla, over their alleged failure to declare ownership of the properties, while being Public Servants.
Obono-Obla and other members of the Panel were removed in a controversial manner, and were directed to handover the Federal Government’s properties in their care to the government.
Ojaomo disclosed that several attempts made by the Panel to get authorisation from the AGF, to file charges against many criminal suspects, failed.
“Most of us that are ready to support the anti-corruption war have been hampered by the action of the AGF,” he said.
Also, a Human Rights Lawyer, Kabir Akingbolu, has asked President Buhari to investigate and prosecute Malami for corruption and abuse of office.
Akingbolu in a letter to the President advised him to take the action if his government was serious about the fight against corruption.
According to the lawyer, Malami in 2018 ensured the removal of over $16m under the bogus concept of 10 per cent commission for himself through his cronies despite the fact that various lawyers had worked and completed all modalities to recover the Abacha loot from the United States.
Akingbolu said, “Everybody in Nigeria cried as much as the U.S Attorney who acted on behalf of Nigeria in respect of the money, on the ground the job was already completed and no lawyer needed to do anything again to justify the commission, but our A.G.F turned a deaf hear and took the money.
“In 2019, Malami discontinued a N25bn criminal charge against Senator Danjuma Goje without any justification.
“He also allegedly owns the under listed properties: A multimillion naira sprawling building, Rayhaan Hotels worth about N500m located opposite Aminu Kano Teaching Hospital, Zaria Road, Kano State.
“Another property worth about N600m located at Ahmadu Bello Way, Nasarawa GRA, Kano.
“A newly constructed school located at the back of Nitel at Gesse Phase 1, Birni Kebbi worth about N700m.
“A multimillion naira property built by Malami for his son located at Gesse Phase II in Birni Kabbi worth over N400m.
“A mansion known as Azbir Arena built by Malami for his second son, Azbir located 200 metres away from Malami brother’s mansion. Azbir Arena an entertainment Centre worth over N3bn, with a big plaza and a kids playing centre and Hotel all combined in one expansive property.
The lawyer said he might file a mandamus to compel Mohammed Adamu, the Inspector-General of Police, to perform his statutory duties if the government refuses to probe the AGF.