by Linda Ikeji
The Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) has released its own report on how Ibrahim Magu headed the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) before being suspended as the agency’s acting chairman.
Magu who was accused of being unable to account for332 out of the 836 recovered real estate property in March 2018, was also accused of turning the EFCC into a “glorified police station” for alleged selfish motives.
The panel which was set up by President Buhari to look into the activities of the EFCC under Magu, alleged that he seconded police officers to EFCC officials in spite of the massive recruitment of police officers, carried out by the commission in recent years.
The report partly read;
“The blatant display of arrogance and acquisition of illicit wealth has turned the EFCC into a glorified police station.
“Despite massive recruitment of officers and men in recent years by the (suspended) acting chairman at the EFCC, he is still seconding police officers to the EFCC because he is comfortable with his fellow officers to carry out his illicit activities.
“He does not have any exit strategy for the police even though the EFCC officers are more experienced in the investigation of economic and financial crimes.”
The properties alleged to have been illegally acquired as well as the bank accounts of those individuals serving as fronts for Magu were also published in the report.
The report added;
“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 “massive wastage and deterioration” of physical assets (including landed property, cars and vessels recovered by the EFCC due to poor management were also highlighted in the report.
According to the presidential panel, the anti-graft agency under Magu failed to preserve and realise the economic value of the recovered assets.
“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.”
Asides stating that the EFCC “could not manage” the entire assets on its own, the panel also disclosed that the anti-graft agenct allegedly made conflicting submissions or returns to it in respect of the non-cash assets which affected its (panel) assignment.
The report read;
“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 property.
“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.’’
The panel which listed lack of internal control mechanisms/systems within EFCC and lack of adequate returns by EFCC departments and zonal offices as reasons for these discrepancies and inconsistencies, noted that Magu neglected and refused to comply with the regulations on the management of recovered assets, 2019, as he allegedly embarked on disposing of some of the property without regard to extant law.
The report added;
“These Regulations was issued in line with international best practices and to ensure that all the anti-corruption agencies report all their recovered assets in a database provided by the Federal Government.
“It is important to note that the (suspended) Acting Chairman in apparent disregard of the regulation is disposing of these properties without regard to extant laws, and Regulations and without reference to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and in effect, there is no way to have an audit of the property.
“This is also a clear sign that there is a deliberate attempt to hide the exact figures of recoveries, which is an indication of fraudulent intent.
“These actions of the (suspended) Ag. Chairman in refusing the Regulation is a clear case of refusal to follow lawful instructions and directives contrary to the provisions of the Act that establish the EFCC.”