A major source of the problems currently being faced by Ibrahim Magu, acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is the unexplained disappearance of 50 tankers from the Port Harcourt Zonal Office of the commission, sources have told Newsbreak.
Magu was arrested on Monday afternoon and whisked to the Presidential Villa to face a panel investigating allegations of under-declaration of assets seized from corruption suspects.
Sources within the commission told newsbreak.ng that last November, the Port Harcourt Zonal office of the EFCC sent a report to the headquarters that it had run out of space to park tankers seized from oil bunkerers. At the time, said sources, the commission had 244 tankers in its facility and had no space to take more. The Secretary of the EFCC, Olu Olukoyode, was said to have travelled to Port Harcourt for the on the spot assessment.
But on arrival in Port Harcourt, Olukoyode found only 194 tankers. He was said to have demanded an explanation from Abdulrasheed Bawa, head of the zonal office, who replied that the tankers were sold on the instructions of Magu.
A shocked Olukoyode was said to have returned to Abuja and complained loudly that a decision to sell the tankers had not been properly communicated and discussed. He placed a call to Magu, who was in Saudi Arabia at the time, with the Chairman claiming that he did not authorize the sale of the tankers. The agency’s top guns waited for Magu to return and expected him to investigate what had happened and order the arrest of Bawa.
On return to Nigeria, Magu mainatained that he did not order the sale. However, he took no action. A few weeks later, he ordered the transfer of Bawa from the Port Harcourt Zonal Command to the EFCC Training School, where he is currently.
“For something as big as that, you’d expect the Chairman to order the arrest of Bawa. But he just kept swearing that he did not authorize the sale of the tankers. Of course, some of the people whose tankers were seized petitioned the authorities and demanded investigation into the unexplained sale,” said a source.
He added that the sale of the tankers and other accusations of under-declared seized assets gave the Attorney-General, Abubakar Malami, ammunition to shoot Magu down. Both men have been at loggerheads for some time, said the source. He disclosed that Magu was to be arrested three weeks ago and agency staff were told that DSS operatives were on their way, but it did not happen.
“We heard they were coming for him three weeks ago, but apparently they were called back. Also last week, we heard they were coming but they did not,” he said.
He, however, said contrary to reports that he was invited to face the panel, he was arrested.
“Guns were pointed at him and he was forced to sign his arrest warrant. He was arrested, not invited. An invitation could not have been sudden,” he said.
Sources in the commission disclosed that the acting Chairman’s conduct does not befit that of person heading an anti-corruption agency. According to a source, the rent on his residence is N42 million per annum.
“How can a person fighting corruption live in a house that costs that amount yearly,” he asked.
Magu, who has remained in acting capacity since 2015, following repeated refusal of the 8th Senate to ratify his appointment, even had his nomination questioned by figures in President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration. The former DSS Director-General, Lawal Daura, had written to the President, criticizing Magu’s nomination and branding him as unsuitable for the job.