Acting Chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, and the Department of State Services, DSS, were principal actors in a drama of confusion, arrest, denial, and interrogation, yesterday, in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
Initial reports indicated that Magu had been arrested by men of the DSS, but this was refuted by the agency, which said that its agents did not arrest him.
In a statement, DSS Public Relations Officer, Peter Afunanya, said yesterday: “The Department of State Services, DSS, wishes to inform the public that it did not arrest Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as has been reported by sections of the media. The service has since today, July 6, 2020, been inundated with inquiries over the alleged arrest.”
The EFCC, on its own part, also said that Magu was neither arrested nor forced to go anywhere, but that he honored an invitation to appear before a panel sitting at the Presidential Villa.
Dele Oyewale, the EFCC spokesman, denied that Magu was arrested or forced to go to the Presidential Villa to face a panel, but that he went to the Banquet Hall wing of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
“He was served the invitation to the panel, while on his way to the Force Headquarters, Abuja, for a meeting.
“The EFCC boss was neither arrested nor forced to honor the invitation. A member of a legal team from the EFCC is also with him on the panel.”
Meanwhile, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has called on authorities to afford acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu his constitutionally and internationally guaranteed fair trial rights in the ongoing probe over alleged infractions on duty.
Magu is reportedly still being detained in police custody on the orders of a presidential panel probing alleged infractions against him.
In a statement on Tuesday, by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organization expressed concern over what it called “arbitrary arrest,” and insisted that Magu must either be charged with a recognizable criminal offense or released immediately and allowed to do his job without fear of reprisals.
It would be recalled that the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, had recently written President Muhammadu Buhari on why the EFCC boss should be replaced, having been rejected many times for confirmation by the National Assembly.
A former Director-General of the Department of State Service, DSS, Lawal Daura, had also written what was said to be a damaging report against Magu to the Senate.
Journalists who thronged the venue to cover the event at about 3.20 pm, were turned back by security personnel.
Even when the journalists covering State House decided to go to the press center at the Old Banquet Hall, they were politely told to excuse the place for a while.
“They said you people should excuse the use of this place for today,” a security official detailed at the venue politely told reporters. At press time yesterday, Magu was still being quizzed by the panel
It would be recalled that Malami had in a leaked memo, asked President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Magu over “22 allegations.”
A member of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC) had released a preliminary report on the invitation of the acting chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu to appear before a presidential Panel.
The report signed by Prof. Femi Odekunle, made available to journalists on Monday in Abuja stated that “the information reaching him was that Ibrahim Magu was only invited to appear before a Panel set up not long ago concerning some alleged memo by Malami, Attorney General and Minister of justice, regarding some alleged malfeasance an along with nominations for his replacement.
However, the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC), has said that the statement credited to it on the invitation of Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, by a presidential panel on corruption was the personal opinion of Prof Femi Odekunle.
PACAC in a statement signed by its Communications Officer, Mr. Aghogho Agbahor, said: “The attention of the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has been drawn to a statement circulating in the media space credited to one of its members Professor Femi Odekunle. The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, also urged President Muhammadu Buhari to demonstrate the genuineness of his war against corruption by allowing the unhindered investigation of the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, currently being investigated for allegations of corruption. The party said Nigerians are already aware that Magu has been pulled in for questioning, adding that the fact that he has to be accompanied by his lawyer, “shows that the said ‘invitation’, is beyond the routine.”
It was also gathered that Magu spent last night in a police cell after he was grilled for about six hours by a Presidential panel headed by Justice Isa Salami, a former President of the Court of Appeal.
He was detained at the Force Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters in Area 10, Garki, Abuja, and is expected to face further interrogation today at the Presidential Villa.