By ADEBAYO OBAJEMU
The former Economic and Financial Crimes, EFCC’s boss was released last Wednesday but his travails and media trials are far from over, even as his lawyer, Wahab Shittu has put up a spirited defence of the embattled anti-graft boss, responding point by point to allegations of graft before retired Justice Ayo Salami’s probe panel set up by the Buhari administration to look into alleged wrongdoings committed by Magu as raised in a terse memo sent to the president by the attorney general of the federation and minister of justice.
In anticipation of what will turn out to be his historic defence on Monday, Mr Magu has given his words on Friday that he would cooperate with the Justice Ayo Salami Presidential Investigation Committee, making a plea for what he called fair-minded probe proceedings against him.
He also said he has no intention to start any legal proceedings against President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration that has allowed him to serve the country.
Magu made his position known in a statement in Abuja through his counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu
The statement: “Our client appreciates the panel for ordering his release from custody even if the panel indicated it never ordered his detention at any time in the first place.
“Our client appreciates the efforts of the Buhari Administration in its commitment to the war against corruption including the ongoing probe being undertaken by the Hon justice Salami investigation panel.
“Our client undertakes to cooperate fully with the Salami panel by making available to the panel formal response to the allegations against him in the social media platforms and newspapers since he has not been formally served with copies of the allegations against him by the panel.”
He pleaded with Nigerians not to prejudge him, saying what he wanted was a fair-minded probe by Salami committee.
The statement added: “Our client strongly appeals for fair-minded probe proceedings against him including an open mind by the Nigerian people until the probe process is completed.
“ Our client acknowledges the widely respected integrity of Mr President and chairman of the probe panel, Hon Justice Ayo salami ( Rtd) and is hopeful that the truth in his case will ultimately prevail.
“ Our client urges Nigerians and the international community to continue to support the current administration’s quest to rid our society against graft.
“Our client takes his current travails with philosophical calmness without bitterness in the belief that no one is above the law, that no matter how big anyone is, the law is bigger. “ “Our client pleads that no publication be attributed to him without clearance from him directly or his counsel on record.
“ Our client will never be a party to any derogatory comments against this Administration which he considers himself to be an integral part of, and the President he respects so much.”
Recall that for the second time in a week, Magu ruled out court action against the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari on his travails.
“ Our client is not contemplating any legal proceedings against this Government that has allowed him to serve and for which he retains uncommon respect and admiration mainly because of the commitment of the Administration to the anti-corruption crusades which he shares.
It was a difficult week for Magu as he barely escaped rearrest last week on Thursday, July 16, for his decision to remain in the official residence of the EFCC chairman.
Business Hallmark gathered that after spending nine days in detention, Magu was released from police custody on bail on the evening Wednesday, July 15, on the order of the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel investigating his stewardship as EFCC acting chairman.
This newspaper gathered that the embattled Magu was detained at the Force Criminal Investigation Department at Garki Area 10 in Abuja from Monday, July 6, when he was arrested by a combined team of mobile policemen and operatives of the Department of State Services (DSS) operatives in traffic at Wuse II till Wednesday, July 15.
The report said that upon his release Magu headed for the official residence of the EFCC chairman at Maitama, where he passed the night.
This newspaper informed by reliable sources that the decision to return to the residence and orders being allegedly issued by Magu to officers guarding the place were perceived as an affront on the authorities, having been suspended from office and a replacement appointed.
Magu was said to have got a feeler that he was going to be re-arrested for his indiscretion on the morning of Thursday, July 17, and quickly moved out of the Maitama residence to his house at Karu.
Recall that on Friday, July 17, that the policemen guarding the ex-EFCC boss were withdrawn by police authorities on Thursday, July 16.
Speaking on Magu’s planned rearrest, his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, however, told Tribune Online on the telephone on Friday, July 17, that although Magu’s security details were withdrawn, they were later restored to him.
“Let me make this clear: his security details were withdrawn but they have been restored,” Shittu said.
Asked to react to the concerns raised by the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) on the ongoing investigation of Magu following his (Shittu’s) claim that the Justice Salami-led investigation panel would clear his client and reinstate him, Shittu said he didn’t want to make “a political reaction.”
The PDP had said in a statement issued by its publicity secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, that, “Nigerians were shocked when counsel for suspended EFCC acting chairman, Wahab Shittu, boastfully declared that he had Magu’s instruction to inform the public that “he will be reinstated to the office.”
Note that the presidential panel investigating Magu had earlier accused of selling recovered real estate properties to friends.
The allegations which were contained in a report of the presidential committee on the audit of recovered assets also said some of the recovered property was taken over by EFCC officials.
The panel alleged that recovered properties were sold to Magu’s friends and cronies at giveaway prices or taken over by some top EFCC office.
In Magu’s investigation, a clergy man’s name has featured prominently. Pastor Emmanuel Omale has personally commented on the allegation that he laundered money for Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Omale, founder Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry, Abuja, earlier spoke through his lawyer, Gordy Uche.
He has now revealed that Magu and other Muslims visit his church and sleeps there to talk to God.
Last week, the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) said Magu purchased a property in Dubai using Omale’s name.
In a sermon to his congregation, Omale insisted that the allegation against him was a lie.
The cleric insisted that he didn’t “launder money for anybody, it is a lie from the pit of hell. I have sons all over the world and I pray for them. They call me for advice, for counselling and I pray for them and beyond”.
The Cable quoted him as declaring that his church altar is for everybody.
“Omale said it is for Muslims, for pagans “and Ibrahim Magu is not the only Muslim that used to come here, sleep here, talk to God, and they have a result. I’m not surprised, Jesus went through this, Jesus was persecuted, if Jesus was not persecuted they won’t hear his name.”
The pastor advised members of the public that didn’t know him to “know Omale now”.
He added that “People that don’t want to hear about pastor before, as they heard ‘pastor launder money’, they will go to my YouTube page and they will see the power of God there and they will become my son again.”
Omale boasted that there is nobody that will watch his page “and not follow me by force. There is nobody that will see my face that will not love me. My face was everywhere. No doubt about it, I can’t deny him like the way I cannot deny all of you.”
Meanwhile, Coalition of South East Youth Leaders (COSEYL) has demanded that the sitting President of Nigeria hands off the appointment of EFCC Chairman.
The body advocated a review of the EFCC Act, noting that this would ensure effective corruption war.
The group, in a statement by the President, Goodluck Item and Secretary, Kanice Igwe, observed that Nigerians have been complaining about how governments use EFCC to hunt down political enemies.
COSEYL noted that in most cases, certain persons, mostly party members in power, are the proverbial “sacred cows”.
The group insisted that the structure of the commission could hardly enable it to function independently as long as its chairman remained an appointee of the executive.
Noting EFCC successes, the coalition regretted that it was yet to prove its effectiveness in fighting the economic crimes in Nigeria which appeared to be escalating daily.