The suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFFC) Ibrahim Magu, has denied that he fraudulently enriched himself by diverting and mismanaging proceeds of recovered assets.
In his response to a presidential probe panel investigating allegations of gross misconduct against him by the Attorney general of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami, Mr Magu described the allegations against him as false and calculated to tarnish his image despite the “commendable” achievements of the EFCC under his leadership.
In the detailed response, obtained by PREMIUM TIMES, Mr Magu instead accused the office of the AGF of interfering with investigations, recovery and management of recovered assets. He also claimed that the office of the AGF has been “less cooperative and supportive” of the process of assets recovery. He accused the AGF’s office of being “laidback” “particularly in cases of extradition.”
The suspended EFCC boss also accused Mr Malami of not giving him the opportunity to respond to any of the allegations against him before masterminding the setting up of the probe panel. He also refuted the allegation that he turned down the request of the Minister of Finance who sought clarification in respect of recovered funds.
Mr Malami had announced Mr Magu’s suspension following President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval. Prior to his suspension he was arrested and brought before a probe panel headed by Ayo Salami, a former president of the Court of Appeal.
After his arrest, allegations that Mr Magu diverted billions of naira gotten from recovered funds, as well as the interests accrued from the funds, were circulated and published on various media platforms.
In his response, Mr Magu described the allegations against him as false, saying he did not convert a dime of the recovered assets to his personal use and challenged Mr Malami to produce evidence of such conversion.
He said under the current structure of the EFCC on the recovery and management of assets, it was impossible for recovered assets to be mismanaged.
“In the Commission under my watch, funds are recovered vide bank drafts in favour of the commission and lodged in the recovery accounts domiciled with the Central bank of Nigeria.
“Sir, even when cash is recovered during execution of search warrant, such funds are meticulously counted, kept in the safe custody of the Exhibit Keeper and lodged in the recovery account.”
Mr Magu added that he is not a signatory to those accounts and has never approved withdrawal from any of commission’s recovery accounts for his personal benefit.
Perhaps refuting one of the allegations circulated in the media that the naira equivalent of some recovered funds was stolen or diverted, Mr Magu explained that he has never “reported the naira equivalent of the foreign currency recoveries. As a matter of standard practice and procedure, the commission under my leadership reports foreign currency recoveries and not the naira equivalent of same”.
On the allegation that he under-reported the sum of N39,357,608,119.43, Mr Magu explained that even the petitioner admitted that the money was lodged in the recovery account at the Central Bank of Nigeria, “which is not under my total dominion and control.”
“This demonstrates the falsity of the accusation of the diversion of forfeited assets wrongly levelled against me,” he argued.
He further denied that under his leadership of the EFCC, recovered physical assets such as landed properties and vehicles were allowed to waste away. He claimed that he has been deliberate in making sure that the government “derives maximum economic value and benefits from such properties.”
READ MR MAGU’S FULL RESPONSE BELOW
RE: ALLEGED CASE OF CONSPIRACY, ENRICHMENT ABUSE OF PUBLIC OFFICE AND OTHER INFRACTIONS
The above subject matter refers:
2: Your Excellency, permit me to express my profound gratitude for the unique opportunity you afforded me to defend myself of all the allegations levelled against me and the Commission. This is a demonstration of your commitment to the fundamental principle of justice which is ‘fair hearing’.
3. Ordinarily, Sir, the petition against me would have been answered by a simple response that:
3.1 Under my watch, no assets were sold and the proceeds thereof fraudulently converted.
3.2 The investigation conducted by the Commission in respect of P&ID has been timely, exemplary and has been commended by English Courts, with Justice Butcher commenting that Nigeria has established seismic fraud against P&ID. Further, Nigeria’s off-shore lawyers are relying on over 5,000 pages of documents and evidence availed to them from the EFCC investigation of this saga.
3.3 Neither I nor the EFCC, have ever threatened any Judicial Officer in the discharge of our official functions.
3.4 There has been no mismanagement of and lack of transparency in the management of recovered assets under my leadership of the Commission.
3.5 There has been no diversion of proceeds from recovered assets or personal enrichment on my part.
3.6 The EFCC has in a timely and exemplary fashion responded to information and documents whenever required, not just in the Paris Club Refund investigations, but in respect of other investigations.
4. I am however aware that when a lie is told over and over again, it acquires the semblance of truth. Therefore, it is necessary that I engage in a detailed rebuttal of the false allegations against my person and the Commission, otherwise it acquires the flavour of truth. On the contrary, in several cases under investigation, recovery and management of assets, the office of the HAGF (Honourable Attorney General of the Federation) has either interfered with the process or has been less cooperative and supportive.
5. Also, the laid back approach of the office of the HAGF particularly in cases of extradition has not been particularly helpful.
6. Sir, without attempting to blow my trumpet in respect of the achievements we have recorded in the fight against corruption under the leadership of his Excellency President Muhammadu Buhari, that contrary to the assertion that I was not acting in the overall best interest of the country and the policies of this Administration, I wish to state that my service and records of achievements have been commendable. A comprehensive list of the key achievements of the Commission under my leadership is attached and marked Annexure 1.
7. Sir, I have gone through the petition upon the service of same on me and I found that the allegations contained therein are in 6 folds. I wish to respond to each and every one of these allegations as follows:
ALLEGATION (A) FINAL REPORT OF THE PRESIDENTIAL COMMITTEE ON AUDIT OF RECOVERED ASSETS (PCARA): MISMANAGEMENT AND LACK OF TRANSPARENCY IN MANAGING RECOVERED ASSETS.
I. I unequivocally deny this allegation as same is untrue and merely calculated to tarnish my name, the Commission, and the giant strides this administration has achieved in the fight against corruption and recovery of proceeds of unlawful activities.
Ii. Your Excellency. contrary to the allegations contained in paragraph (A-5X) of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
(a) Not a dime of the recovered funds was fraudulently converted to my personal. I challenge my accuser to produce evidence of such fraudulent conversion.
(b) It is the international best practices in audit to have an entry and exit meeting. During the exiting meeting, parties are expected to thoroughly review and reconcile documents/data to enable the auditee to present necessary explanations to clear any grey area.
(c) Contrary to the established international best practice and the principle of fair hearing as enshrined in section 36 of the 1999 Constitution, the report of the PCARA and the documents analyzed before making the purported findings contained in Paragraph 5 of the petition were never made available to the Commission to respond and clarify.
(d) That I was not invited by the Committee to defend myself and the Commission before the purported findings were made. That fair hearing demands that I should not be indicted without being heard.
(e) The existing structure in the EFCC on the recovery of assets and the management of same will not allow any form of mismanagement of recovered asset to be perpetrated. In the Commission under my watch, funds are recovered vide bank drafts in favour of the Commission and lodged in the recovery accounts domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. (1) Sir, even when cash is recovered during execution of search warrant, such funds are meticulously counted, kept in safe custody of the Exhibit Keeper and lodged in the recovery account.
(g) I am not a signatory to these accounts and the funds therein. I have never approved withdrawal from any of the Commission’s recovery accounts for my personal benefit.
(h) There is nowhere I have reported the Naira equivalent of the foreign currency recoveries. As a matter of standard practice and procedure, the Commission under my leadership reports foreign currency recoveries and not the Naira equivalent of same.
(i) The Commission under my leadership has never converted foreign currency recoveries to Naira.
(j) The allegation in paragraph 561) of the petition is untrue because I did not manipulate data of the Commission’s recoveries.
(k) While I cannot confirm the source of the figures quoted in paragraph 5(ii) where the Commission was alleged to have under-reported the sum of N39, 357,608,119.43, I am aware that by a letter dated the 24th March 2017, Mr President instructed me to forward the status of various recoveries the Commission made from May 2015 till the date of the letter. Attached and marked Annexure 2 is a copy of the letter.
(l) On receipt of the aforesaid letter, I promptly compiled a comprehensive list of the recoveries and forwarded same through a letter dated 7th April 2017. My letter of 7th April 2017 is attached and marked Annexure 3. My report to Mr President was supported with relevant source documents.
(m) The purported under-reported sum of N39, 357,608,119.43 was admitted by the Petitioner to have been lodged in the recovery account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria which is not under my total dominion and control. This demonstrates the falsity of the accusation of diversion of forfeited assets wrongly levelled against me.
(n) The Commission in the exercise of its statutory duties is empowered to make recoveries for the Federal Government, State Governments, private individuals and corporate bodies and as such not all funds in the recovery account belong to the Federal Government of Nigeria (FGN).
(o)The period analysed by the PCARA report in paragraph 5 of the petition is not stated.
(p) The figures reported by PCARA may not have taken note of third party recoveries that would have been transferred to the respective beneficiaries directly. Such direct beneficiaries include:
(i) Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS),
(ii) Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).
(iii) Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON).
(iv) Nigerian Customs Service.
(v) Commercial Banks.
(vi) Other Corporate Organisations and
Iii. The allegation in paragraph 5(iii) of the petition is vague and not supported by any particular instance, thus I am unable to respond with precision. However, it is trite that the figure standing to the credit of an account is susceptible to changes as a result of interest element and bank charges. The amount of money at the time the Commission obtains forfeiture order changes with time, either as a result of bank charges or inflows into the account after the interim order was made. It can, therefore, not be expected that the amount stated in the application before the order of interim forfeiture is made will remain static.
The allegations in paragraphs 5(iv), 5(v) and 5(vi) of the petition are untrue as I did not refuse to oblige the request of the Honourable Minister of Finance seeking necessary clarification in respect of our various recoveries.
The allegations in paragraph 5(vii) of the petition are equally false. Upon my assumption in office, I have taken various steps to prevent wastage of physical assets including landed properties, motor vehicles, vessels, etc just to ensure that the FGN derives the maximum economic value and benefits from such properties.
On the issue of MT GOOD SUCCESS. MT DERBY and MV THAMES referred to in the Petition. I also know as a fact and verily believe that:
(a) On the 30th of October, 2015 His Lordship, Hon. Justice O.E. Abang in a well-considered judgment forfeited to the FGN the following (Attached and marked Annexure 4 is the enrolled order of the said judgment).
aa. The vessel MT Good Success.
bb. 1,459 metric tons of Premium Motor Spirit (PMS) onboard the vessel.
cc. the sum of N66,069,505 and $975,694.50 in FCMB Plc account of Hepa Global Energy Limited, the owner of MT Good Success.
(b) Upon the delivery of judgment the owners of MT. Good Success appealed and also filed motion for stay of execution which was dismissed by the Court of Appeal on the 13th July, 2016. See HEPA GLOBAL ENERGY V FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF NIGERIA (2016) LPELR-41288 (CA).
(c) Before the stay of execution was filed, I ensured that the FGN took economic benefit of the funds forfeited by the trial Court from the account of Hepa Global Energy, by following the money from FCMB up to the confirmation of its receipt by the CBN. Attached and marked Annexure 5(a)-(f) are relevant documents showing my effort in this regard.
(d) Furthermore, in a bid to ensure that the FGN took the economic benefit of the MT Good Success and in demonstrating my total commitment for accountability and transparency in the process of disposition of the forfeited asset, the Commission under my leadership wrote a letter to the Honorable Attorney-General Federation (HAGF) reference number EFCC/SC/JUS/07/101 dated 24/03/16 titled “NOTIFICATION TO DISPOSE” of MT GOOD SUCCESS, recommending the disposal of the vessel and the processes to be adopted. The said letter is attached and marked Annexure 6.
(e) The Commission did not receive any response from the HAGF to our letter dated the 24/03/16. However, through memos dated 10th and 23rd November 2016 the Lagos Zonal Office of the Commission informed the Commission’s Directorate of Asset Forfeiture Recovery and Management (D-AFRM) of the correspondence from the Nigerian Navy (NN), which is the physical custodian of all detained and forfeited vessels, stating that MT GOOD SUCCESS had sunk. The memos are hereby attached and marked Annexure 7a and 6b respectively.
(f) The letter indicated that the owners of the vessel appealed against the judgment forfeiting the vessel and applied for a stay of execution which was rejected by the Court. The letter from the Nigerian Navy (NN). attached to the aforesaid memos stated that when the vessel was experiencing ingress of water, the NN made an effort to relocate the vessel from Lagos Anchorage and made contact with the Commission’s Lagos Office for evacuation of the products but this could not be actualized before the vessel submerged.
(g) Pursuant to the above recommendation a meeting was held with the Flag Officer Commanding Western Naval Command wherein he explained that the vessel had sunk but same could be salvaged, after incurring heavy costs, as only very few companies, such as Julius Berger, have the equipment and capacity to salvage the vessel
(h) The report of the meeting was conveyed through a memo dated 19th December 2016 wherein it was recommended that all vessels in the custody of the Navy listed in the memo including MT Good Success should be salvaged, evacuated and disposed of, if possible. The said memo is hereby attached as Annexure 8.
(i) The recommendation was accepted as indicated in the minute on the aforesaid memo (Annexure 8) wherein I directed the then Secretary to the Commission to expedite action on the due process of auction
(j) The then Secretary to the Commission, Mr Emmanuel Aremo, directed the then Head of Procurement Mr Olushina to issue a letter of engagement to Pinnacle Trading and Investment Nigeria Limited for the disposal exercise.
(k) The letter issued to Pinnacle Trading and Investment Nigeria Limited was later discovered not to have complied with statutory procurement procedures provided under the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and therefore the Commission’s management directed the revocation of the letter and publication of a disclaimer. The action was taken when it was discovered that the personalities behind Pinnacle were also behind another company known as Omo-Jay Nigeria Limited being prosecuted by the Commission for illegal oil dealings in the Niger Delta.
Vii. In respect of the vessel MT DERBY, I also know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. The Commission had set in motion the process of disposal of the content of the vessel when Honourable Justice Idris of the Federal High Court, Lagos Division, gave an order that the Automated Gas Oil (AGO) onboard the vessel PSV Derby shall be sold by the Registrar of the Court in collaboration with the Prosecutor and Defence Counsel while the proceeds of the sale shall be dealt with as the Court may direct pending the determination of the charge. The Court order of 7th April 2017 is hereby attached and marked as Annexure 9.
Ii. Whilst the Commission was taking assiduous steps towards enforcing the order of his Lordship, the HAGF commenced a fresh process for the disposal of the vessels mentioned above. In so doing, the HAGF did not respond to the letter written to him by the former Secretary to the Commission recommending the disposal of MT Good Success. Rather the HAGF commenced his own process of disposing of not only MT GOOD SUCCESS but other vessels already forfeited by the Commission including MT ASTERI, MT DERBY, MV THAMES and in any others connected to pending court cases.
Iii The firm of DIPO OPESEYI & Co wrote a letter dated 12th of September, 2017, informing the Commission of its engagement by the HAGF to obtain forfeiture order against vessels and dispose them. The letter is hereby attached and marked as Annexure 10.
Iv To support his disposal of the vessels. the HAGF through a letter ref: no:
HARMU/RMDOVSC/2017/1 dated 23rd January, 2018 informed the Commission that the firm of DIPO OPESEYI & Co had undertaken forfeitures on his behalf and requested the Commission to work with the firm to reconcile the orders obtained by the firm. The letter of the HAGF dated the 23rd of January, 2018 is attached and marked as Annexure 11.
V. The Commission further received a letter dated 6th February, 2018 from the firm of DIPO OPESEYI & CO titled FHC/ABJ/741/2017 & FHCIABJ /CS/742/2017-FRN V. UNKNOWN PERSONS reiterating its engagement by the HAGF and the steps he has taken. The said letter is hereby attached as Annexure 12.
Vii The attachment to the above letter revealed that MT GOOD SUCCESS, MT DERBY & MT THAMES were among the one hundred and thirty six (136) forfeited vessels. These are the vessels for which I am now being accused of mismanaging despite the engagement of a private legal firm by the HAGF to forfeit and dispose them.
(vii) I also know that by a letter reference number HQ/011/78/98/93/A/VOL.1/21 dated 14th of February, 2020 addressed to the Acting Chairman of the Commission, the Nigerian Navy informed the Commission that the HAGF by virtue of FGN OFFICIAL GAZETTE No. 163 Vol. 106 of 2019 directed the Navy to allow Omoh Jay Nigeria Limited to evacuate the content of MT PEACE and MT ASTERIS. Attached as Annexure 13 is the said letter.
(viii) Also, by a letter reference number SH/COS/34/25/A/475 dated 22/2/18, the Chief of Staff to the President directed the Commission not to take any step towards the sale, disposal or other dealing with the recovered and forfeited assets unless otherwise directed. The said letter is hereby attached and marked as Annexure 14.
(ix) By a letter dated 18th May 2018 the firm of SANI & CO Solicitors, acting on behalf of FSS Nigeria Limited, an auctioneer engaged by the Commission, informed the Commission that the Ministry of Defence and HAGF had by appointments and advertisement commenced the process of engaging other auctioneers to dispose the vessels thereby taking away the opportunity given to this auctioneer by the Commission to dispose the vessels through transparent due process. The aforesaid letter is attached and marked as Annexure 15.
The aforesaid law firm of SANI & CO wrote a similar petition to the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) against the Commission and the HAGF for undertaking double disposal process of the same assets. The Commission was invited to BPP to respond to the allegation
By a letter ref. No: MOD/PROC/GEN/346/1 dated 21st June 2018 the Honorable Minister of Defence informed the Commission of the approval of Mr President to the Ministry of Defence to dispose the vessels. The letter of the Ministry of Defence to the Commission and the letter conveying the approval of Mr President to the Honorable Minister of Defence are attached and marked as Annexure 16.
(xii) The HAGF through the Head of Asset Recovery and Management Unit of the Ministry of Justice, Ladidi B. Mohammed, wrote a letter to the Commission with reference number HAGF/ARMU/RMDOVS/2017/11 dated 27th July 2018 requesting for access to the vessels for valuation by Omo-Jay Nigeria Limited, Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and *Dipo Okpeseyi & Co. The letter is attached and marked as Annexure 17.
(xiii) In demonstrating my total commitment towards ensuring that the FGN derives the full economic benefit and in other to prevent the dissipation of forfeited assets, on the 17th of July, 2018 I wrote a letter to his Excellency, the Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, SAN (Chairman, Presidential Committee on Asset Recovery) wherein I informed him of the steps taken by the Commission to prevent economic loss as a result of the depreciating nature of the forfeited assets, the challenges we are encountering and the need to urgently dispose of the perishable and depreciating forfeited assets. The letter is attached and marked as Annexure 17.
That in relation to the ALLEGATION contained in paragraph (5ix) of the petition I also know as a fact and verily believe that:
(a) The Commission did not make any conflicting submissions of returns in respect of the non-cash assets as the PCARA never informed me or the Commission of any difficulty it faced as a result of the information we provided.
(b) The allegation bothers on increment in the number of forfeiture of real estate after the return made to the President. The increase in the number of forfeiture of non-cash assets was as a result of fresh and more forfeiture orders obtained by the Commission from the courts.
(c) That the Commission has the requisite capacity to manage the recovered assets. The Commission has a very standard directorate of Asset Forfeiture saddled with the responsibility of managing recovered and forfeited assets.
ALLEGATION B: MISMANAGEMENT OF RECOVERED ASSETS AND DIVERSION FOR PERSONAL ENRICHMENT
The allegations in Paragraph B of the petition are contained in paragraphs B6), B(7), B(8), B(9.)B(10) and B(11).
ALLEGATION IN PARAGRAPH B6):
The allegations in B6) are that I protested against the efforts of the National Assembly (NASS) to address the transparency in the management of recovered assets through the enactment of The Proceeds of Crime Bill 2019. It was also alleged that due to the protest of the Commission and the false information I purportedly supplied, Mr President declined assent to the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019.
MY RESPONSE TO ALLEGATION IN PARAGRAPH B (6):
1. I deny all the allegations contained in paragraph B (6) of the petition as same are untrue and only calculated to embarrass me and rubbish the display of my patriotism and unflinching loyalty to the President and the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
That contrary to the allegations in paragraph B6) I know as a fact and verily believe that Mr President forwarded the draft Proceeds of Crime Bill to the Commission, as well as other Anti Corruption Agencies, such as the Nigerian Police Force, ICPC, NDLEA, NAPTIP and the Nigerian Customs Service. Attached and marked as Annexure 18 is the letter from the Chief of Staff to the President forwarding the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 to the Commission for review, comments and remarks.
Upon receipt of the Presidential instruction. I promptly constituted a team of experts in this field with requisite experience to review the draft Bill as directed by Mr. President.
After a thorough review of the Bill, the Commission came up with a common position and forwarded same to Mr President. Attached and Marked Annexure 19 is a copy of the letter through which the Commission forwarded its position to Mr President.
Apart from the Commission, other Anti Corruption Agencies also forwarded their positions to Mr President disagreeing with the substantial section of the Bill.
Mr President declined assent to the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 in the overriding interest of the nation and the need to sustain the tempo of the achievements this administration is recording in the fight against corruption. The recommendations of the Commission to Mr President on the Bill was not tainted with any falsehood, rather it was honest, professional, courageous and a patriotic position. Other than the corporate position of the Commission which was transmitted to Mr President. I did not sponsor any campaign against the POCA Bill, 2019
ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPHS B(7), B(8) & B(9)
The allegations in paragraphs B7, BS & B9 are that:
– I neglected and refused blatantly to comply with Regulations on the Management of Recovered Assets, 2019,
– I do not want a proper and transparent procedure for the management of assets as directed by Mr President through the Office of the HAGF. I and top officials of the Commission are using the forfeited assets to corruptly enrich ourselves.
MY RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPH B(7), B(8) & B(9)
1. I deny all the allegations in paragraphs B(7), B8) & B(9) of the petition in their entirety as they are totally untrue and calculated to malign me and the Commission.
2. Contrary to paragraphs B(7), B(8) & B(9) of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
i. All steps taken by me in respect of recovered and forfeited assets were in accordance with powers conferred on me by the Act of the National Assembly which established the Commission.
ii. I have never disobeyed any directives and regulations of Mr President whether in relation to the management of the recovered and forfeited assets or any sundry issues.
iii. In the discharge of my official functions, I am bound to comply with the provisions of various enabling laws enacted by the NASS which confer certain special powers on the Commission in respect of recovered and forfeited assets which are in conflict with the Regulations of the HAGF.
vi. Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006 conferred on the Commission the responsibility of tracing and forfeiting abandoned properties and properties reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities,
V. Through the special provisions of Section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offence Act, 2006 the Commission under my watch has forfeited numerous properties to the FGN.
vi. Rather than strengthening the institutional capacity of the Commission and the provisions of section 17 of the Advance Fee Fraud and Other Fraud Related Offences Act, 2006: the Commission and its enabling statutes have been subjected to numerous attacks and blackmails majorly aimed at whittling down the powers of the Commission.
vii. One of such attacks is the provisions of section 162 (3) of the Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 which seeks to delete sections 6(d),13(2)(c), 20, 21, 22, 24, 25(a), (c) & (d), 26(1)(b), 29, 33, and 34 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act, 2004 which empowered the Commission to investigate, prosecute and confiscate assets.
Considering the negative impact section 162 (3) of Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 will have on the tracing and recovery of proceeds of crimes in Nigeria, Mr President in his wisdom declined assent to the Bill.
ix. The Asset Tracing, Recovery and Management Regulations, 2019 made by the HAGF without the intervention of the NASS seeks to divest the Commission of its statutory power to trace, recover and institute non-conviction based forfeiture proceedings in Court. This conflicts with the statutory mandates and powers conferred on the Commission by the NASS.
I am always transparent in the exercise of my official duties and there is no official decision that I have taken as Ag. Chairman of the Commission which was not a product of transparent process and in compliance with statutory provisions.
xi. The Commission did not oppose the enactment of Proceeds of Crime Bill, 2019 but was opposed to some negative and far-reaching provisions of the Bill which will impede and reverse the anti-corruption agenda of the FGN.
ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPH (B)10
In paragraph B (10), it was alleged that most of the forfeited assets are sold without anyone knowing, or having proper record recourse to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that has the mandate to undertake valuation of such properties. It was also alleged that some of the assets have been taken over by officials of the Commission while some are sold at giveaway prices to my friends and cronies,
It was further alleged that I maintained different accounts including using proxies who return the benefit of the sold assets to me and that the proceeds of the purported sales were used to acquire properties in the name of my proxies.
MY RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPH B(10)
1. Sir, I deny each and every allegations contained in paragraph B(10) of the petition as they are totally false, untrue and merely targeted at destroying my hard-earned reputation as an incorruptible Officer
2. That contrary to the allegations contained in paragraph B(10) of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
Since my assumption of office as the Ag. Chairman of the Commission, not a single recovered or forfeited property has been sold and the proceeds fraudulently converted.
All the finally forfeited properties are intact except those described below:
• 244 Forfeited Trucks: The Federal High Court directed the trucks to be sold by the Deputy Chief Registrar of the court in conjunction with the Department Petroleum Resources (DPR) and the Commission. Notwithstanding the Order of Court, I ensured that a Presidential approval was sought and obtained before the process of sale commenced in December, 2019. The sale by public auction was concluded and the proceeds paid to the Recovery Account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria. Attached and marked Annexure 20 is the Presidential approval and evidence of remittance of the proceeds of sale to the Recovery Account.
• Allocation of vehicles to some Government Agencies through special auction, with Presidential approval. The beneficiary Agencies are:
a. Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management of which the valued price is to be debited from their allocation.
b. State House.
c. National Commission for Refugees and Displaced Persons.
d. Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS).
e. National Directorate of Employment (NDE): motorcycles.
• Real properties finally forfeited to the FGN and allocated to some Agencies for official use in line with the Presidential approval are:
a. Voice of Nigeria (VON).
b. National Directorate of Employment (NDE).
c. Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management.
d. North-East Development Commission.
e. Pension Transitional Directorate (PTAD).
• Properties under interim forfeiture order rented by some Government Agencies:
(a) Nigerian Army
(b) Federal Ministry of Finance
(c) Fiscal Responsibility Commission
(d) Nigerians in Diaspora Commission
(e) Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria
• Others Agencies of Government that have approached the Commission to rent property under interim forfeiture order include:
a. National Human Rights Commission.
b. National Council for Arts and culture.
• The Commission also temporarily handed over property in Lagos to the Lagos State Government for use as isolation centre for COVID 19 patients.
The Commission presently has Presidential approval to dispose over 450 forfeited vehicles located in Lagos and Abuja. The vehicles have been valued by the National Automotive Council valuers and the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing but no sale/disposal has been conducted yet.
ALLEGED FAILURE TO TIMEOUSLY INVESTIGATE PROCESS AND INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENTS LIMITED (P&ID)
1. I totally deny the allegation of not timeously investigating P&ID as directed by Mr President. Rather, I know as a fact and verily believe that the germane facts surrounding the award of US$9.6 billion to Process and Industrial Developments Limited (P&ID Ltd), a British Virgin Island (BVI) registered company, and the involvement of the Commission may be summarized as follows:
(1) P & ID (Nigeria) Limited, a “subsidiary of P&ID Ltd of BVI signed an MOU with the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources on 22nd July, 2009. The MOU was for the conversion of wet gas to lean gas by the company for generation of electricity.
On the 11th of January, 2010 P&ID Ltd of BVI (instead of its Nigerian “subsidiary”) signed a Gas Supply and Processing Agreement (GSPA) with the Ministry of Petroleum Resources as a follow up to the MOU.
In the year 2012, P & ID alleged breach of the terms of the GSPA and filed an arbitration suit against the FGN in London In the year 2014, the Arbitral Panel made a finding of liability against Nigeria. On the 31st of January, 2017 the Arbitral Panel awarded the sum of US$9.6 billion against Nigeria. On the 28th of June, 2018 the Office of the HAGF and Minister of Justice wrote to the EFCC forwarding Mr President’s directives that the P&ID case should be investigated.
The petition from the HAGF to the Commission is attached and marked as Annexure 20.
The Commission promptly commenced investigation and filed charges in September, 2019. Within fifteen months of receipt of the letter of the HAGF, the Commission concluded investigations, filed criminal charges and P&ID Ltd BVI and its Nigerian subsidiary (P&ID Nigeria Limited) were convicted for money laundering and fraud. The charges against P&ID and the judgment of the Federal High Court convicting P&ID are attached and marked Annexure 21(a) and (b).
Criminal charges were also filed against Grace Taiga and James Nolan in relation to the P&ID matter in October, 2019 still within fifteen (15) months from the date of the HAGF’s letter. The criminal charges filed against Grace Taiga, James Nolan and associated companies of P&ID are attached and marked as Annexure 22. In relation to the award proper, a team of FGN agencies comprising officers of the Commission, Ministry of Justice, the Nigerian Police Force (NPF), the Ministry of Information and the Central Bank went to London to strengthen the UK legal team engaged by Nigeria on the case particularly as it relates to the application for stay of execution of the judgment. The stay of execution was granted.
The FGN’s team also liaised with the law firms retained by the Ministry of Justice. Further, and at the behest of the CBN and Ministry of Justice, the FGN retained an alternate law firm to handle the matter which is ongoing. Another FGN delegation comprising of the Commission, the CBN and the NPF met with the INTERPOL in Lyon and agreed on requisite documents to be furnished to the INTERPOL and the sharing protocols in respect of the documents. On 5th May 2020, the Commission finished the compilation of all the requisite documents and sent it to INTERPOL.
The acknowledged copy of the letter by the INTERPOL is attached and marked as
The directive of Mr President to the HAGF is dated 26th June 2018 and the letter from the HAGF to the Commission is dated 28th June 2018. Within fifteen (15) months from the date of the letter of the HAGF, the Commission had concluded investigations, filed charges and secured a conviction against P&ID Limited BVI and P&ID Nigeria Limited. By any standard in the world, this is exemplary and commendable.
I have also ensured that criminal charges were filed against Ms Grace Taiga. the then Director Legal Services of the Ministry of Petroleum Resources and Mr James Nolan, the in-country manager of P&ID Limited of BVI. Furthermore, a warrant of arrest has been obtained against Brendan Cahill, the key personality currently behind P&ID Limited of BVI. In addition, criminal charges for economic crimes have been finalized against eight other associate companies of P&ID Limited.
The staggering volume of work done by the EFCC in less than one year is unprecedented and has received the commendation of the off-shore lawyers. Indeed in the course of proceedings for the stay of execution, Justice Butcher acknowledged that Nigeria has established “seismic fraud” in the matter and that P&ID Limited of BVI has been shown to be a briefcase company. It is therefore surprising to contend that the Commission has been tardy in investigating the matter.
2. Sir, contrary to the allegation that the Commission failed to forward to the office of the HAGF and Minister of Justice, documents and charges against P&ID and related companies, for onward transmission to the Nigerian Police and INTERPOL, I know as a fact that:
The Office of the HAGF has always been part of the FGN team in this matter. coordinated from the CBN, and cannot contend that it was starved of documents or necessary information. The Ministry of Justice was part of the team, alongside the Commission, CBN, NPF and the Ministry of Petroleum Resources that held regular meetings during which all necessary documents were circulated to team members and discussed. In any case, it should be noted that the crux of the letter which the Commission allegedly refused to respond to were in relation to documents that were to be given to the Police to forward to INTERPOL. It is necessary to further clarify that from the date of the said letter of the HAGF sometime in December 2019, arrangements were being made for Nigerian representatives to meet with INTERPOL to establish document sharing protocol and delineating the exact documents required by INTERPOL.
With the concurrence of the HAGF, the said documents were forwarded to the INTERPOL, through Government’s delegation comprising of representatives of Nigerian Police Force, CBN and the Commission.
ALLEGATION D: FAILURE TO PROVIDE TIMELY RESPONSE ON THE INVESTIGATION OF CASES/INDIVIDUALS RELATING TO LEGAL/CONSULTANCY FEES IN THE PARIS CLUB REFUNDS TO STATES & LGAS
RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS IN PARAGRAPH D(15) & (16)
1. I entirely deny all the allegations levelled against me in paragraph D of the petition as they are completely false and made in bad faith.
2. Sir, contrary to the allegations in paragraph D (15) and (16), I know as a fact and verily believed that:
(i) The Commission received a letter from the HAGF on the 10th of May, 2016 requesting for investigation of “the Ministry of Finance and Office of the Accountant General of the Federation on why they failed to file processes to defend the matter in suit No: FHC/ABJ/CS/130/2013 Linas International Limited & 238 Ors v. FGN & 3 Ors, why the suit was moved along with the Judge from Calabar to Abuja Judicial Division and who authorised the payment of $7.6billion.”
The HAGF also demanded as follows: “I also request for further investigation into other necessary details as it relates to the garnishee proceedings and the entire matter as a whole.” Attached and marked Annexure 21 is the said letter from the HAGF to the Commission.
The Commission dutifully and expeditiously performed the task which led to gathering of thousands of pages of judicial and financial documents, records of interviews of various witnesses and suspects comprising of six-volume files. While the investigation was in its last lap, the HAGF requested for a report and an interim report was forwarded via a letter dated 1st August 2018. Attached and marked Annexure 22 is a copy of the said letter forwarding the interim investigation report to the HAGF.
I also forwarded another updated report to the HAGF via a letter dated the 21st of May, 2019. Attached and Marked Annexure 23 is a copy of the said letter.
(iv) Recently, the attention of the Commission was drawn to a letter from the Honorable Minister of Finance addressed to the Chief of Staff to the President and another letter from Orji Nwafor-Orizu & Associates addressed to the HAGF applying for payments of millions of United States Dollars purportedly in relation to the Paris/London Clubs debt payment over deductions on accounts of States and LGAs. The said letters are attached and marked Annexure 24(a) and (b).
(v) These letters and the recent clamour for new payments to other entities from the Paris/London Clubs debt repayment over deduction refunds further prompted the Commission to conduct a review of the two reports and the outcome of the review was communicated to the President via a letter dated 15th June 2020. This letter to Mr President is attached and marked Annexure 25.
(vi) The case generated several judgments against the FGN which were not appealed by the Ministry of Justice and these judgments needed to be investigated because of several allegations and counter-allegations of fraud cutting across the Judiciary and the relevant MDAs thereby making the case very complicated contrary to the position of the HAGF that the case is not complicated.
(vii) Contrary to the conclusion of the HAGF, the two reports forwarded to him were substantially in agreement and only differ on additional findings premised on new discoveries in the latter report.
(viii) A careful perusal of the two reports will reveal that this is not a simple investigation that can be concluded overnight because of claims of hundreds of millions of United States Dollars by multiple claimants anchored on several court judgments from the Federal High Court and the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory delivered at different times on substantially the same claims of services rendered to States and LGAs.
ALLEGATION D (17)
1. Sir, one of the allegations levelled against me was that I arrogated to myself the right to institute actions and I filed frivolous charges without seeking advice. The case of Dauda Lawal v. EFCC and Sterling Bank was mentioned as a reference point.
2. That contrary to the allegation in paragraph D 17 I know as a fact and verily believed that:
The power to prosecute cases was not what I can arrogate to myself. Before I became the Ag. Chairman of the Commission, it has constantly exercised its statutory power to institute criminal charges where prima facie evidence is made out without seeking for the consent of the HAGF.
As a matter of fact, the various decisions of our appellate Courts are that the Commission does not need the consent/fiat of the HAGF to institute criminal charges. Please see the cases of AMADI v. FRN (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt.1119) 259 at 275 – 276, AKINGBOLA v. FRN (2012) 9 NWLR (Pt.1306) Pg. 511 at 532, SEBASTINE ADIGWE v. FRN (2013) 1 BANKING AND FINANCIAL LAW REPORT (BFLR) 325 at 339).
Therefore, the power to institute criminal charges by the Commission is derived from statutes (please see the EFCC Act, 2004) and judicial authorities listed above.
Notwithstanding the position of the law, and the powers statutorily conferred on the Commission to institute criminal proceedings, I have constantly briefed the HAGF in respect of our activities. Apart from my direct briefings, I also appointed a Liaison Officer to coordinate the official relationship between the Commission and the Federal Ministry of Justice.
(iii) RELEVANT FACTS ON DAUDA LAWAL’S CASE
As a result of the confidence reposed in me and the Commission, an intelligence was shared with me on the various fraudulent activities of the former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Mrs Diezani Allison-Madueke and some top management officials of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to wit: the two former Group Executive Directors Finance and Accounts, Dr Stanley Lawson and Bernard Otti; former Group Managing Director of PPMC, Prince Haruna Momoh; former Group Managing Director Crude Oil Marketing Division, Gbenga Olu Komolafe; the Group Managing Director, National Product Marketing Company (NPMC) Umar Farouk Ahmed and top bank officials of Fidelity Bank, Sterling Bank Access Bank and First Bank
(iv)The intelligence was thoroughly analyzed, and investigated, wherein the following findings emerged:
Sometimes in December 2014 the former Minister of Petroleum Resources Diezani Allison-Madueke invited the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Mr Nnamdi Okonkwo to meet her in her Abuja office where she informed him that funds will be brought to Fidelity Bank on her instruction and that it shall be kept in the bank pending her further instructions. A whopping sum of US$153,310.000 (One Hundred and Fifty-Three Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand United States Dollars) was brought to Fidelity Bank Plc on behalf of Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke as follows:
• Gbenga Olu Komolafe, former Group Managing Director Crude Oil Marketing Division, NNPC brought the sum of US$70,000,000 (Seventy Million United State Dollars).
. Prince Haruna Momoh, former Group Managing Director Petroleum Products
Management Company (PPMC) brought the sum of US$50,000,000 (Fifty Million United States Dollars).
• Umar Farouk Ahmed, Group Managing Director of Nigerian Product Marketing Company (NPMC) brought the sum of US$7,000,000 (Seven Million United States Dollars).
. Stanley Lawson brought the sum of US$21,980,000 (Twenty-One Million, Nine Hundred and Eighty Thousand United States Dollars) which sum was delivered to Martins Izuogbe of Fidelity Bank at Sofitel Hotel Ikoyi. Lagos.
Babajide Sonoiki of Sterling Bank Plc brought the sum of US$3,500,000 (Three Million, Five Hundred Thousand United State Dollars). This sum was also delivered to Martins Izuogbe.
Upon the receipt of these funds, and on the instruction of Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, the sum of US$88,310,000 (Eighty-Eight Million, Three Hundred and Ten Thousand United States Dollars) was fraudulently disbursed to Sterling Bank Plc whilst the sum of US$65,000,000.00 (Sixty Five Million United States Dollars) was released to Dauda Lawal of First Bank Nigeria Plc.
(d) That out of the sum of US$88,310,000 received by Sterling Bank the sum of US$5,000,000 was further disbursed to Herbert Wigwe the Managing Director of Access Bank and the remaining US$83,310,000 was invested by Sterling Bank in an off-balance sheet investment to yield an annual interest of 5% using their former subsidiary Sterling Asset Management Limited (SAMTL).
That out of the US$65,000,000 received by Dauda Lawal, the sum of US$25,000,000 was later converted to the sum of N5.050,000,000 and transferred from First Bank Nigeria Plc to Sterling Bank for the acquisition of a five-star hotel called the Ogeyi Place Le-Meridian Hotel situated at Tombia Street, Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
Dauda Lawal and Sterling Bank Plc admitted receiving the funds from Fidelity Bank. The sum of N9,080,000,000.00 was recovered from Dauda Lawal as the Naira equivalent of the Dollars received by him.
The Commission filed a non-conviction based forfeiture action in suit no. FHC/L/CS/13/2017 before the Federal High Court, Lagos Division and urged the Court to forfeit the sum N23,446,300,000.00 (Twenty Three Billion, Four Hundred and Forty-Six Million, Three Hundred Thousand Naira) recovered by the Commission from Sterling Bank Plc, the sum of US$5,000,000.00 Five Million United States Dollars) recovered from Herbert Wigwe, MD/CEO of Access Bank and the sum of N9,080,000,000.00 (Nine Billion. Eighty Million Naira) recovered from Dauda Lawal.
On the 16th February, 2017 the Federal High Court forfeited the aforementioned funds to the FGN
The Commission, having established a prima facie case against the suspects, preferred a criminal charge no. FHC/L/419/2018 in the Federal High Court, Lagos Division. The criminal charge sheet is attached as Annexure 26.
Upon the filing of the criminal charges, the defendants adopted many delay tactics for almost a year and after a careful review of the case by the Prosecuting Counsel, it was agreed that expeditious determination of the case will only be achieved if the defendants are charged separately.
As a result of this decision the charge was amended on the 14th of November, 2019. Attached as Annexure 27 is a copy of the amended charge sheet and the record of proceedings where the prosecution stated the reasons for the amendment of the charge.
On 2nd of April, 2019 Dauda Lawal filed a notice of appeal before the Court of Appeal appealing against the final order of forfeiture of the funds.
The Commission prepared the Respondent’s brief and argue same before the Court of Appeal.
On the 25th of March, 2020 the Court of Appeal delivered its judgment directing the Commission to release the sum of N9,080,000,000.00 to Dauda Lawal.
That being dissatisfied with the said judgment, the Commission promptly filed a notice of appeal to the Supreme Court, compiled and transmitted record and the said appeal has been entered as Appeal No: SC/CV/212/2020 at the Supreme Court. The notice of appeal to the Supreme Court and the evidence of transmission is attached and marked as Annexure 28.
That all these recoveries were made in draft and lodged in the recovery account of the Commission domiciled in the CBN.
RESPONSE TO ALLEGATION D(18)
1. I categorically deny the allegation of the HAGF that breached the provisions of the Oath of Official Secrecy Act and the confidentiality of persons under investigations
2. The HAGF has not cited a particular case or instance where it is conclusively shown or proved that I have committed the alleged breach.
3. On allegation of breach of confidentiality of persons under investigation, it is important to state that immediately a suspect is invited or arrested pursuant to ongoing investigation the standard procedure is to process him and release him on administrative bail. While the processing is going on, such suspects are always allowed to be visited by family and friends of their choice pending the perfection of their administrative bail conditions. Such suspects are also always released to reliable sureties who in most cases are not even related to the suspects. But because such visits and conditional release on bail are part of the suspect’s Constitutional rights enshrined in Chapter IV of the 1999 Constitution (as amended), the Commission or myself cannot breach such rights and it is therefore apparent from such procedures that the public will definitely know that such suspects are under investigation for particular allegations as always stated in their bail conditions which are always made availablet to them and their legal Counsels. Also, sometimes the suspects release the information about the ongoing investigations against them to the public for various reasons. Therefore, the allegation of leaking identity of suspects under investigation and breach of Oath of Secrecy Act is misplaced and categorically denied.
RESPONSE TO D(19)
1. Sir, I also vehemently and unequivocally deny the allegation that as a consequence of the breach of Oath of Secrecy Act, criminal suspects seek ways to bribe me or the investigators. I challenge my accuser to show evidence of where and how I was bribed by any criminal suspect.
This false allegation is most unfortunate, spiteful, malicious and intended to cruelly destroy my hard-earned reputation.
2. It is also not true that the National Crime Agency (NCA) has refused to share information with the Commission. The NCA still shares critical information with the Commission and conducts joint operations with the Commission under the Combined Inter-Agency Task Force (CIATF) and also directly. Classified documents in this regard can be produced for sighting on request and with the consent of the NCA. The Commission is also jointly working with the NCA on several cases including the Diezani Allison-Madueke cases and all the Mutual Legal Assistance (MLA) requests on these cases are passed to the NCA and the Crown Prosecution Services through the Centra Authority Unit (CAD) of the Ministry of Justice contrary to the allegations of the HAGF. Attached and marked Annexure 232 are copies of such MLÁ correspondences passed to the Dited Kingdom (UK) authorities through the HAGF on these cases.
3. It is also instructive to note that since the execution of all the requests and forwarding of the evidence to the UK authorities. Diezani Allison-Maduke is yet to be charged to Court by the authorities. The Commission through the HAGF, therefore, requested the US authorities to extradite Diezani Allison Maduke to face the pending charges against her in Nigeria. Till date, the HAGF has not communicated back to the Commission on the position of the UK authorities on this request. Attached and marked as Annexure 29 is the extradition request.
4. The Commission, under my leadership, also has a good working relationship with the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation which recently acknowledged this relationship by commending the Commission publicly and on record. Attached and marked Annexure 30 is a copy of the plaque/lcommendation letter from the FBI to the Commission.
5. Also the United States Attorney’s Office District of Nebraska in its release dated the 16th of June, 2020 thanked the Commission and further states: “the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation wish to thank their partners in Nigeria particularly the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Federal Ministry of Justice and the National Central Bureau, Abuja Interpol (Nigeria Police Force) for their past and continued assistance in pursuing those that engage in Business Email Compromise and other fraud schemes. The release is attached and marked Annexure 31.
6. The HAGF also alleged that the NCA reported that I compromised the investigation of a British Nigerian, one Mr Livister Mbaeri. I state categorically that this is utter falsehood.
I challenge the petitioner to produce evidence of my alleged compromise.
7. I will also state on record that the Commission, under my leadership. has made several requests for the extradition of high profile Nigerian fugitives through the office of the HAGF and till date, there is no response from the HAGF on these extradition requests that are critical to the anti-corruption drive of this administration.
Some of these fugitives include Robert John Oshodin who laundered millions of United States Dollars on behalf of former National Security Adviser (NSA) Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd), former Special to the President on Niger Delta and Coordinator of the Amnesty Programme Mr Kingsley Kuku and Hima Aboubakar who was criminally indicted by the investigation of arms procurement conducted under the former NSA Colonel Sambo Dasuki (Rtd). Attached and marked as Annexure 32 (a)-(e) are copies of the extradition requests of these fugitives.
8. The Commission also forwarded a Mutual Legal Assistance request to the HAGF for onward transmission to the authorities of the British Virgin Island through a letter dated 9th September, 2019 wherein the Commission requested for critical information in respect of the P&ID case but the Commission is yet to receive any response from the office of the HAGF. Attached and marked as Annexure a and marked as Annexure 33 is a copy of the request dated 9th September, 2019.
THREATENING OF JUDICIAL OFFICERS:
1. I unequivocally deny the entirety of the allegation that I threatened Judicial Officers. This allegation to say the least is not only untrue but mischievously made to tarnish my name and the corporate integrity of the Commission. In the exercise of my official duties, I have had no cause to threaten anybody let alone a serving Judicial Officer.
2. Contrary to the allegation that I threatened judicial officers, particularly Honourable Justice Binta Nyako, I know as a fact and I verily believe that:
(i) The Commission, in the course of performing its statutory duties and functions, discovered that one Sebore Farms & Extension Services Limited which received and retained various proceeds of unlawful activities has Honorable Justice Binta Nyako as one of its Directors. Currently, the company is standing trial alongside Admiral Murtala Nyako (a spouse of the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako) in criminal charge no. FHC/ABJ/293/2015 between the FRN v. 50 Murtala H. Nyanko & 8 Ors pending before the Honourable Justice E.O. Abang.
The Commission wrote to the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court applying that the Honourable Justice Binta Nyako recuse herself from matters instituted by the Commission. The letter to the Hon. Chief Judge is attached and marked as Annexure 34.
Though the Honourable Chief Judge of the Federal High Court, in his wisdom, declined the request of the Commission via a letter dated the 11th December, 2018, his Lordship. Honourable Justice Binta Nyanko, having realized that justice is rooted in confidence, recused herself from all the matters instituted by the Commission and pending before her.
The Hon. Justice Binta Nyako delivered judgment in a civil suit no: FHCIABJ/CS/446/2017 Mohammed Bello Adoke v. Attorney General of the Federation wherein her Lordship at page 23 of the judgment held as follows: “On whether the plaintiff can be held personally liable for acts done in furtherance of the lawful directives/approvals of the President, I have examined paragraph 4d, 4bb and 4cc of the Affidavit in Support of the Originating Summons as well as Exhibits 10A & 10B, and 11A &11B. Exhibit 51 B is a Presidential approval directing the plaintiff to implement the Block 245 Resolution Agreement, while Exhibit 10B is the approval by the President for Malabu Oil and Gas Limited to be paid US1,080.040,000.00 Billion Dollars in settlement of the dispute. I am therefore in agreement with the Plaintiff’s submission that he was merely carrying out lawful directives of the President and that a principal and agent relationship is created where the President assigns a responsibility to a minister appointed by him pursuant to section 147 and 146 OF the Constitution. Copy of this judgment is herewith attached and marked as Annexure 35.
The pronouncement of my lord Justice Binta Nyako as quoted above is extremely prejudicial to criminal Charge no. FHCIABJ/CR/268/2016, between FRN v. Malabu Oil and Gas Limited & 7 Ors and Charge no. FHC/AB/CR/39/2017 between FRN v. Mohammed Bello Adoke & Anor filed by the Commission and was subsequently assigned to his Lordship, Hon. Justice Binta Nyako.
The Commission was left with no option than to inform the Honourable Chief Judge about the state of affairs and why it believes that justice will not be done to the FGN if those criminal charges are assigned to Hon. Justice Binta Nyako. A copy of the letter to the Hon. Chief Judge of the Federal High Court dated the 13th February, 2020 is attached and marked as Annexure 36.
That as a result of the above letter, his lordship recused herself and the matter has since been assigned to another Judge of the Federal High Court that we believe will do justice to all parties in the proceedings.
ALLEGATION F (21) AND (22)
In paragraph F 21 it was alleged that the HAGF was in receipt of several petitions against me wherein allegations of personal enrichment, abuse of office and the fact that I am occupying the office illegally.
According to the HAGF. these petitioners have gone to Court to express their anger with this administration for failing to act in line with the EFCC Establishment Act in the appointment of Executive Chairman and the Board of the EFCC.
MY RESPONSE: Sir, permit to state that I am not privy to any allegations contained in the petitions purportedly received by the HAGF against me. However, I know as a fact and verily believed that:
6) In the exercise of my official functions as Ag. Chairman of the Commission, I have stepped on toes in ensuring that corruption is fought to a standstill in Nigeria.
Some of the suspects under investigation and prosecution are always ganging up to fight me back publishing false, untrue, malicious and libellous allegations against me.
(iii) I have never abused the office I am occupying at the pleasure, Mr President.
(iv) I have never personally enriched myself whilst performing my official function. I challenge my accuser lo produce any evidence of this purported personal enrichment.
(v) Regarding the issue of several petitions over the legality of my continued stay as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC without Senate’s confirmation, I wish to state that the judgment of Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court Abuja Judicial Division has laid to rest any issue arising from my appointment.
(vi) In her landmark judgment delivered on December 4, 2019, Hon. Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu dismissed the five consolidated suits against me on the grounds that there is no time limit within which I can act as the chairman of the Commission and that the President Muhammadu Buhari has the proverbial “yam and knife” to keep me in office as long as he pleases.
(vii) The Court even went further to urge Mr President to do the needful and forward my name to the Senate for confirmation in the interest of the Commission and the General Public.
(vii) It is instructive to note that the defendants in the consolidated suits were the Senate President, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF). EFCC and my humble self.
(ix) I wish to state that out of 12 suits instituted to challenge the legality of my tenure, seven of those suits were struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
() On the remaining five Suits, four of them urged the court to declare my stay in office as illegal since my nomination by President Buhari was twice rejected by the Senate while the fifth suit urged the court to hold that I could validly remain as the Acting Head of the EFCC despite Senate’s refusal to confirm my appointment.
(xi) His Lordship, Hon. Justice Ijeoma dismissed the five consolidated suits challenging the legality of my appointed. Attached and marked Annexure 37 (a)-(e) are the Certified True Copies of the five judgments.
ALLEGATION F(22). The Petitioner in Paragraph F (22) states: “One of the Court applications that were filed in March 2020 seeks to determine the legality or illegality of the Acting Chairman occupying Office without an appointment letter. Your Excellency is aware that the Board of EFCC has not been constituted since 2015. This is in total breach of the EFCC Act and the Public Service rules. Despite this, the Acting Chairman has failed or neglected to submit approvals that are above his limit for supervision or for an external body to approve. This is in breach of financial regulations.”
MY RESPONSE: Sir, contrary to the claim of the HAGF in paragraph 22 of the petition, I know as a fact and verily believe that:
(1) My letter of appointment, which was duly signed by the appointing authority, was given to me before my assumption of office as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC. Attached and Marked Annexure 38 is a copy of my appointment letter.
The Judgments of Hon. Justice Ojukwu of the Federal High Court which confirms the legality of my appointment is still subsisting until set aside by the appellate court. It is inappropriate for the AGF to state that a fresh application has been filed in March 2020 against my tenure at the Federal High Court when he is aware of the issue of the legality of my appointment has been resolved and settled judgment of Court of competent jurisdiction as far back as December 4, 2019.
The new suit filed in March 2020 is nothing but abuse of court process of Court. The only option available for the plaintiffs in the suits against me is for them to proceed to the Court of Appeal to seek redress.
Incidentally, one of the plaintiffs in the matter, Mr Johnmary Jideobi, has appealed against the judgment of the Federal High Court in Abuja which dismissed his suit, asking for my removal. It is also imperative to state that Jideobi also listed the Senate, the AGF, EFCC and my humble self as the respondents to the pending appeal. But the AGF deliberately refused to disclose these facts in his allegations against me.
Regarding the non- constitution of the EFCC Board since 2015, the Petitioner is aware that the appointment of the board members is at the prerogative of Mr. President and not within my statutory powers.
In the exercise of my functions as the Ag. Chairman of the Commission I haven’t taken any decision without the requisite approvals, the allegation that I have failed or neglected to obtain approvals from external authorities in breach of financial regulations is untrue.
Source: Premium Times
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