Olusegun Adeniyi, Chairman of ThisDay editorial board, has revealed that Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), purportedly investigated Abdulsalami Abubakar, a former head of state, and Theophilus Danjuma, a former defence minister, without President Muhammadu Buhari knowing.
In a piece entitled: “Magu and the Abuja Power Game”, in his weekly column with ThisDay, Adeniyi stated that Magu blocked the purchase of an aircraft by Danjuma, a former chief of army staff and a billionaire oil tycoon, and also authorised the raiding of Abdulsalami’s residence.
According to the former spokesperson to late President Umaru Musa Yar’adua, President Buhari only knew of Magu actions after the acts had been done, as Danjuma reportedly informed him.
The column read: “Former Defence Minister, Lt General Theophilus Yakubu Danjuma (rtd) was recently at the villa to see President Muhammadu Buhari. It was a visit borne out of rage. A billionaire oil tycoon, Danjuma had paid for the purchase of an aircraft. His cheque bounced! The order to withhold payment, he was told by his banker, came from Magu!
“From what I gathered, it took some time before the president could convince Danjuma that he knew nothing about what was clearly power mongering by a reckless public official.
“A few weeks before that incident, the Minna residence of former Head of State, General Abdulsalami Abubakar was raided by EFCC operatives who “turned the house upside down”. The president also got to know only after the deed had been done.”
Noting that while Abdulsalami and Danjuma are both subject to the laws of the land, Adeniyi, however, criticised Magu for not informing the president on his actions concerning the duo, particularly with their status in the country.
“While neither Danjuma nor Abdulsalami is above the law, power should never be used to harass and ridicule people, whether high or low. And even where there are justifications, for citizens at that level, these actions should certainly not occur without the president’s knowledge,” the column read.
The former presidential aide also disclosed that a lot of petitions against the embattled EFCC czar, adding that his (Magu) position became untenable in 2018 after a three-member committee, headed by Olufemi Lijadu, the current Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to audit all assets recovered by agencies of the federal government from 29 May 2015 submitted its report.
He also claimed that President Buhari received reports of foreign agencies slamming Magu for perceived lack of professionalism.
But on 11th September 2018, the president formally received the report of the Lijadu committee that raised several unanswered questions about the recovered fixed and movable assets. The Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, SAN, later addressed the media on salient issues in the report.
“Although he gave no breakdown, Malami said: “In summary, the recovered funds by the three-man committee is N769 billion cash within the period under review”. What Malami did not disclose that day was that there were discrepancies in the EFCC figures and the disposal of some properties were done without transparency.
“From that moment, Magu’s fate was sealed. To compound his problem, the president had also received reports from a number of foreign agencies on the “lack of professionalism” by Magu who was said to be in the habit of leaking to the media information that compromises investigations.
“At home, critical agencies including the Directorate of State Security (DSS) and National Intelligence Agency (NIA) view Magu as a danger to the system because, as a top presidency official told me, ‘he doesn’t mind bringing down institutions to get at individuals, sometimes just for media adulation’ “, the column read.
Magu has since Monday been appearing before a presidential panel headed by Justice Ayo Salami, a former president of the Court of Appeal, answering questions alleged infractions.
The investigation is occurring after Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation, was said to have levelled some “weighty” corruption allegations levelled against the EFCC czar, as well as that of insubordination and misconduct.
President Buhari suspended Magu as acting EFCC Chairman on Tuesday, a development which was confirmed by top officials at the Presidency.
However, the Presidency is yet to release a formal statement to that effect.