President Muhammadu Buhari has suspended the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu just as entered a second day of grilling before the Presidential Panel investigating his tenure as head of the agency.
After the first session with the Presidential panel headed by Justice Ayo Salami which lasted for six hours on Monday, Magu was taken away by officials of the Nigeria Police Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID).
Magu, a serving personnel of the Nigeria Police, was brought back for his second day of grilling by personnel of the FCID..
Other members of the panel include the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Mike Ogbizi, representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser, the Department of State Security (DSS) and other related agencies.
Magu was accosted by security agents in front of the old EFCC headquarters in Wuse 2, Abuja, on Monday while he was in his own convoy and shown a letter of invitation from the panel, requesting his presence. He however explained to the security agents that he would honour the invitation on a future date but they refused to accept his explanation and insisted that he followed them to the Presidential Villa.
Sources said that earlier attempts to bring Magu before the panel in the past had proved abortive, resulting in the sting operation that accosted him and brought him before the panel.
A top government official, in confirming the suspension, declared that no one occupying the position of Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC) should be suspected of any fraudulent activity.
According to the source, the ongoing probe is an affirmation that nobody under the present administration is above scrutiny. The source explained to journalists on Tuesday that the interrogation of the anti-graft boss is to give him the opportunity to clear himself of the weighty allegations.
The source added that the investigation of the battled EFCC boss confirms the Buhari administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability. It assured that the administration will not prejudge anyone as it could be counted on to uphold justice and fairness.
Said the source: “The panel investigating allegations against Ag. EFCC Chairman had been sitting for some weeks now. In consonance with the principle of fairness and justice, it was needful that the Ag. Chairman be given opportunity to respond to the allegations, which are weighty in nature.
“Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, nobody is above scrutiny. Repeat: nobody. The investigation is to reinforce transparency and accountability, rather than to vitiate it. Accountability for our actions or inactions is inalienable part of democracy. In such elevated position as that of EFCC Chairman, the holder of the position must be above suspicion. There’s no prejudgment. Absolutely none. The Buhari administration can be counted on to uphold fairness and justice at all times.”
Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, had in a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari accused the EFCC head of graft and insubordination, prompting the President to appoint a panel headed by a retired Justice of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami to investigate the allegations.
Malami had in another memo urged the President to pick a retired Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Sani Usman, who the President had already vetted for the job as new Chairman of the anti-graft agency.
Malami also recommended two others – the FCT Commissioner of Police, Mr. Bala Ciroma, who had previously served as the EFCC Head of Operations and a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, from Kebbi State – as replacement for Mr. Magu.
Mr. Magu was appointed head of the agency on November 9, 2015 but the Senate rejected his confirmation twice following damaging reports by the DSS that accused of him graft.
It was learnt that 24 allegations were levelled against Magu who has been acting as chairman for almost five years.
Most of the allegations, it was learnt, emanated from a report by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), and a DSS report which was submitted to the Senate in 2016 and 2017.
The EFCC boss was accused of living above his means, fraternising with corrupt persons, diversion of recovered funds and many others.