Magu failed to account for 332 recovered properties, says Presidential Panel

The suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has again been accused of allegedly failing to give a proper account of missing 332 out of the 836 recovered real estate property in March 2018.

A report by the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) confirmed the development, indicating that the unaccounted property was worth billions of naira.

The report also noted massive wastage and deterioration of physical assets (including landed property, cars and vessels recovered by the EFCC due to poor management.

It also noted with concern the failure to preserve and realise the economic value of the recovered assets, noting that some of the assets were recovered over 15 years ago and left fallow.

“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.

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

The PCARA report also noted that the few consultants hired by EFCC were not managing a substantial number of the recovered assets and that the EFCC has no capacity to manage the entire assets on its own.

The committee, therefore, alerted the nation on the economic and environmental implications of this negligent of duty by the commission.

It equally observed that EFCC made conflicting submissions or returns 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 properties.

“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.’’

According to the fresh report obtained by NAN, Magu and some top officials of EFCC were allegedly 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 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.

In another development, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has insisted that the approval given to some operators in the oil industry to sell five vessels containing crude oil and diesel forfeited to the Federal Government was legal.

This was contained in a statement signed by Malami’s Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Umar Gwandu, on Sunday.

He was reacting to reports that the AGF directed Omoh-Jay Nigeria Ltd to dispose of the crude oil and diesel through an open bid.

Malami is also alleged to have given the firm permission to sell five vessels despite the fact its Managing Director, Jerome Itepu, stood trial at the Delta State High Court in Asaba, for allegedly stealing about 12,000 metric tonnes of crude oil, which was valued at N384m in 2009.

The auctioneer was to get 3% of the sale.

Malami has now denied any wrongdoing.

“Assuming, without conceding that Omo-Jay is being tried for criminal offence, if indeed any, does that take away the Constitutional presumption of innocence in their eligibility to apply and be considered for auction?” the statement read in part.

He added, “If the allegation is that of breach of process and procedures of disposal of assets, Sahara Reporters need to clearly state which processes and procedures were breached.”

Meanwhile, Anti-corruption groups, Re:Common, Globalwitness and The Corner House based in Europe, have written to President Muhammadu Buhari on what they consider the unfortunate treatment of Ibrahim Magu.

Magu was arrested on Monday by a combined team of officials of the Department of State Services and Force Criminal Investigation Department after failing to honour two invitations from the panel.

He has been detained since then and the Police authorities on Friday withdrew his security. 

His travails followed a memo by Malami in which the suspended anti-graft czar was accused of grave malfeasance.

The groups in a letter signed by Lucas Manes of Re:Common, Nicholas Hildyard of Corner House, Simon Taylor of Globalwitness, and their Nigerian counterpart, Olanrewaju Suraju of the HEDA, said the unceremonious removal of Magu may erode the recent gains in the fight against corruption. 

The letter reads in part: “What is going on in Nigeria is of concern to the international community. Mr Magu has proved himself to be up to the task.

“His determination to fight corruption is evident by the recovery of stolen funds and properties plus his own high moral ground earned at the cost of diligence and hardwork never before seen.

“His political removal questions the will of Nigeria to deal with a major cause of the country’s underdevelopment which is corruption.

“However, we very much hope that you will find a way forward that protects the huge strides made by the EFCC under Magu’s acting chairmanship.”

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