*As Magu explains inability to honour earlier summon
By Ikechukwu Nnochiri— ABUJA
The suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, honoured the invitation the Code of Conduct Bureau, CCB, and was reportedly grilled for hours over discrepancies in assets declaration forms he had filled.
The Bureau, had in a letter dated November 2, requested Magu, whom it described as “former Chairman” of the EFCC, to appear before it with documents of all his landed property, both developed and undeveloped.
Vanguard learned that Magu reported to CCB’s Interview Room at the Fifth Floor, Annex 3, Federal Secretariat Complex, Shehu Shagari Way, Maitama Abuja, on December 4, where he was grilled for about four hours by a crack team of investigators.
A source at the Bureau, who pleaded anonymity, disclosed that the suspended EFCC boss was specifically queried about alleged discrepancies in some of the asset declaration forms he filed and submitted in the past.
It was further gathered that though Magu was at CCB’s office with his team of lawyers on December 3, his interrogation could not go on as some of the investigators were involved in the Bureau’s annual lecture held on the theme “Fighting Corruption for Socio-Economic Development”.
Meanwhile, Magu was said to have failed to produce some of the documents he was directed to come along with, insisting they were not in his possession.
The source said: “I can confirm to you that he was interviewed for about four hours on December 4.
“We have not concluded the investigation; it is still ongoing. At the end, if we are satisfied that he has a case to answer, we will accordingly enter a charge against him at the CCT.”
Statutorily, the CCB has the powers to investigate allegations of infractions in assets declaration as well as breach of the code of conduct by public officers.
At the end of such investigation, public officers that are found wanting are referred to the Code of Conduct Tribunal, CCT, for prosecution.
Upon conviction by the CCT, such public officer could, among other sanctions, be made to forfeit assets to the Federal Government or barred from holding any public office for a period of 10 years.
The requested documents
The CCB had, in the invitation letter that was signed by its Director of Intelligence, Investigation & Monitoring, Gwimi S. P, stressed that Magu must produce Certified True Copies, CTC, of all the requested documents.
He was specifically directed to produce acknowledgment slips of all the asset declarations he made since he joined public service.
Other documents the Bureau ordered him to make available to it included copies of his Appointment Letter, Acceptance, Records of Service and pay slips from January to May.
The Bureau said it was investigating a case of alleged breach of the Code of Conduct for Public Officers, that was brought against the suspended EFCC boss.
It said the summon was made pursuant to the mandate and power of the CCB, as enshrined in the 3 Schedule, Part 1, Paragraph 3 (e) to the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, as amended; Section 137 (a) and (b) and 138 (a) and (b) of Penal Code Laws of the Federation of Nigeria 1990 and Section 104 of evidence Act 2011.
I didn’t shun earlier summons— Magu
Magu earlier refuted reports that he shunned the summon, after he failed to appear before the CCB on November 17, as he was directed to do.
In a statement he issued through his team of lawyers led by Mr. Wahab Shittu, Magu maintained that it would be “impracticable” for him to face the CCB, when some documents relating to his declared assets were inside his office as at the time he was arrested on the order of the Justice Isa Ayo Salami-led Presidential Judicial Commission of Inquiry that probed sundry allegations levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami(SAN).
He alleged that some of the documents the CCB asked him to produce before it were carted away by officers of the Department of State Services, DSS, at the behest of the investigative panel, while he was in detention.
He said it would be impossible for him to answer questions or produce documents that are in possession of the DSS and the panel.
In the alternative, he urged the Bureau to extend the invitation it issued to him, pending the return of the documents to him.
Shittu disclosed that his client wrote two separate letters to the CCB Chairman to intimate him about his inability to “have access to the relevant documents as required”.
“The letters, which were dated November 16 and 17, were addressed to the CCB Chairman. The letters were titled- Re: Investigation of Activities- Letter of Invitation, Breach of Code of Conduct for Public Officers.
“Please note that the letters were stamped and acknowledged by the office of the CCB Chairman on the said date of November 17.
“We also wish to state the said letters were copied to the Director of Intelligence, Investigation and Monitoring while the letters were also stamped and acknowledged by his office.
“Explaining the inability of our client to honour the invitation, we stated as follows:
“Your letter dated November 2, with reference No.-CCB/HQ/II & M/007/2093 addressed to our client has been passed unto us to respond to as follows:
“In the referred letter, our client was requested to appear before your distinguished body on Tuesday, November 17, at 11a.m. prompt, concerning the above subject matter.
“We have firm instructions to inform your distinguished body that our client, regrettably will not be able to honour today’s invitation in view of certain circumstances beyond his control.
“Our client’s inability to honour your invitation is as a result of his inability to access his office and the requested documents since his suspension from office.
“We wish to inform you that the documents which you requested for and other personal documents are still in his personal office where he has been denied access up to date.
“We request that the invitation to our client be extended pending the conclusion of the exercise of the mandate of the presidential Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up against our client and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
“This request has become necessary since most of the documents requested by your Bureau, were removed from our client’s offices by the Department of State Security Service, DSS, and the request of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry in the absence of our client while our client was in detention.
“Based on the foregoing, it would be impossible for our client to answer your questions and provide those documents which are in the possession of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the Department of State Security Service, DSS.
“We, therefore, kindly request your distinguished body to graciously extend the invitation extended to our client pending the return of our client’s documents (which you requested).
“We further wish to inform you that we are writing a letter to the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, requesting it to direct the Acting EFCC boss to allow our client access to the relevant documents.
“Please note that there is a need for our client to have access to the relevant documents in order to prepare for his defence to your invitation.
“In the circumstances, until such a time when our client gains access to his personal file in his office, where most of the requested documents are, it is impracticable to honour your invitation, even if our client is willing to do so as an obedient and patriotic citizen”, the statement added.
CCB’s summon on Magu came about four months after he was suspended from office by President Muhammadu Buhari, following corruption allegations that were levelled against him by Malami.
The presidential probe panel had since submitted its investigative report on the allegations to President Buhari.