The former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has, through his lawyer, demanded his immediate release on bail from custody.
On the same day, the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami confirmed the ongoing probe of Magu, and announced that President Muhammadu Buhari had approved the immediate suspension of Magu.
Magu’s tenure as the boss of the EFCC was characterised by large scale abuse of human rights, with reckless detention of suspects. Even when suspects got bails, they are sometimes rearrested at court premises and dumped into detention by Magu’s boys.
Though, Magu showed no respect for human rights, analysts are of the opinion that he should be allowed to enjoy his lawful bail.
In a formal application for bail by his lawyer, Mr Oluwatosin Ojaomo, Magu said it would enable him prepare his defense against the allegations of corruption brought by Malami.
In the bail application addressed to the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Adamu and dated July 10, Magu denied all the allegations against him.
Part of the letter reads: “We are solicitors to Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and a commissioner of police, who is currently under detention at your facility and whom we shall later refer to as our client. We humbly apply for his bail on self-recognizance.
“It is our client’s brief that he was invited by a team of security operatives with respect to an investigation into the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission under his leadership.
“Our client has consistently denied all the allegations levelled against him by the Attorney General of Federation and Minister of Justice and has provided both documentary and oral evidence to clear the air on all the allegations.”
Ojaomo, while expressing hope that the IG would release Magu on administrative bail, said the decision to write the application was based on the IG’s, “Declaration and avowed commitment at your inauguration as the Inspector General of Police to ensure that the constitutional rights of all Nigerians is protected under your leadership.
“This has been severally demonstrated by your recent directives to all police formations in Nigeria not to detain any suspect for any offence which is bailable in nature due to the COVID-19 pandemic that is ravaging the world, which Nigeria is not an exemption.”
Ojaomo also argued that the allegations against Magu were bailable, and as such, the IG should grant him an administrative bail pending the completion of the investigation into the allegations and for him to adequately prepare his defense in accordance with the relevant provisions of the constitution.
Ojaomo further stated that if Magu would not be granted bail on self-recognizance, they were ready to provide a credible surety that would ensure the availability of Magu, anytime he was needed for the purpose of the investigation.
Meanwhile, Magu’s suspension is contained in a statement issued by Dr. Umar Gwandu, the Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations, Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice.
It stated that President Buhari had approved his immediate suspension, which the statement said, was to give the Presidential Investigation Panel, under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws, unhindered inquiry into the allegations.
The statement added that President Buhari had also approved that the EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, should take charge and oversee the activities of the Commission pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regard.
Recall that Malami had last month recommended the sack of Magu to President Buhari over several allegations ranging from diversion of recovered loot to insubordination and misconduct.
In the exclusive report by THISDAY, Malami was said to have also included a shortlist of three candidates for consideration to replace Magu.
Among Malami’s claims, are the alleged gaps or discrepancies in figures concerning recovered assets, where he said Magu was not transparent enough in the management of recovered assets.
Specifically, he said the EFCC boss disclosed a total recovery of N504 billion but lodged N543 billion in the Recovery Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
“Incidentally, this exceeded the disclosed figures by N39 billion.”
Malami was also said to have accused Magu of “blatant display of arrogance and insubordination to him as supervising minister of the EFCC.”
According to the source, Malami claimed that most of the assets recovered by the EFCC were allegedly sold by Magu without the knowledge of anyone.
Magu, who is notorious for illegal detention and humiliation of suspects during his reign as EFCC boss, was arrested last Monday in Abuja while on his way to a meeting at the Police headquarters, Abuja.
Immediately after his arrest, he was taken before a probe panel constituted by President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, five days since his arrest and interrogation by the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel, he is still in the custody of the police.
The Inspector General of Police has directed the immediate withdrawal of all police operatives serving at the EFCC.
He directed that they should be replaced with new ones.
The directive is contained in a signal to the Assistant Inspector-General, Police Mobile Force Squadrons one to 79, the Force Secretary and Commissioners of Police of all the state commands and the Federal Capital Territory.
According to the order, “only staff of EFCC should be allowed access into the EFCC premises, while withdrawn police personnel must report to the Force Headquarters on Monday.”
However, the spokesman, force headquarters, Frank Mba told THISDAY that he “has no idea” about the deployments.
A source told THISDAY last night that the police security guarding the official and personal houses of Magu had also been withdrawn.
The men were ordered to leave the residences in Abuja yesterday and report to the police headquarters. The source also said all vehicles in Magu’s official house in Maitama were driven away by policemen from IG’s office.