As the probe of the embattled chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, who is believed to have been removed from office, over corruption allegations enters its fifth day, intense lobby has begun for his office.
Sources confirmed that the EFCC has been thrown into confusion as two top management officials were in contention over who administers the commission.
The confusion is not helped as the Presidency is yet to speak on the matter,” the source said.
Although, the Secretary to the Commission is said to be the next in rank to the chairman, it was gathered that being a civilian, he was not favoured to step into the position.
The source said those jostling for the job included retired Deputy Inspector General (DIG) and Assistant Inspector General (DIG) as well as a serving Commissioner of Police.
It said the weight of allegations against Magu by the AGF and Minister of Justice, and the belief that he may not return, had made the hunt for his successor necessary.
“With Magu not seen as returning to the post, it becomes imperative that someone must take over. In fact, in the last four days, there has been intense lobby from influential persons within and outside the Presidency for his successor.”
The source named FCT Police Commissioner, Bala Ciroma, as one of the candidates favoured for the job, but declined to name the retired DIG and AIG.
“The choice of Ciroma has not only received the backing of some influential figures in Aso Rock, but also from the top echelon at the Force Headquarters where he is considered fit for the job.”
The panel has been sitting for over three weeks scrutinising corruption allegations from the Attorney General of the Federal and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami against the EFCC boss.
Besides Magu, the retired Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Panel has begun grilling other officials alleged to have been involved in the sales of seized properties under the watch of the embattled EFCC boss to appear before it.
The panel which has DIG Mike Ogbezi (Police), Hassan Abdullahi (Department of State Service), Douglas Ekwueme (Nigeria Fintelligence Intelligence Unit), Mallam Shamsudeen (Office of the Accountant General of the Federation), Mohammed Abubakar (Ministry of Justice) and Kazeem Atilebi (Civil Societies Organisation) as members, also asked directors and sectional heads to bring files of cases handled since 2015 including forfeited assets and all cash releases within seven days.”
Magu was said to have appeared before the panel with his lawyer, yesterday. At the session, top management officers led by Mr. Olanipekun Olukoyede, secretary of the Commission and other directors were summoned to state what they knew about the allegations against the embattled acting chairman.
A source told revealed last night: “The panel did not do anything concrete on Monday and Tuesday. It only asked general questions. The real work on the 22 allegations started on Wednesday. At the hearing, Magu’s counsel, Wahab Shittu, reminded Salami about the need to be fair to the accused, saying that he wrote a two-page article in his defence when he had crisis. He also argued that the panel lacked the power to detain Magu on the grounds that it was a fact finding panel to unravel the truth. He added that Magu has served his country meritoriously and should not be denied his fundamental human rights and treated in bad manner.
The panel chairman replied that Magu’s detention was at the instance of the IGP, saying that it would recommend the reversal of the action for fair hearing. The panel also directed Rotimi Oyedepo, who appeared with Magu on Monday to come and conclude his testimony.
We also learnt that the panel promised fair hearing, even as Justice Salami has said he was yet to make any recommendation for Magu’s suspension since he was just taking his defence.
“The panel finished sitting at about 9pm. Today is the first day the panel will really make appreciable progress on the allegations. Letters of invitation will be sent to certain EFCC officials to come and testify.
“The officials will also shed more light on certain allegations and adopt documents to be submitted in response to the allegations. The officials include Director of Operations, Legal, Internal Affairs and Asset Forfeiture,” the source said.
•Magu ‘boys’ testify today on disposal of seized property
Meanwhile, we reliably gathered that some persons, within and outside the Commission fondly called “Magu boys” and “who did all the known and the ‘under the table’ deals for which Magu is being probed” have also been summoned.
An EFCC source told Daily Sun, I can tell you for free that as I speak, none of the so-called Magu Boys has been invited. Only Bashir Abdullahi was at the Villa yesterday. At about 6pm none of the directors have been invited to testify.
The only person who was invited was the former Director of Organisational Support, who is now a Commissioner of Police, Mr Bolaji Salami. He later returned to the Police Headquarters.
Barring any last minute change, several of of them would start appearing before the panel.
Culled From The Sun newspaper