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Monday, 13 July 2020

Presidential panel says Ibrahim Magu could not account for 332 recovered properties


Nigeria - Suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has been accused of failing to give a proper account of missing 332 out of the 836 recovered real estate property in March 2018.

In a report, the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA) said the property Magu unaccounted for is worth billions of naira.
The report also listed the number of the affected properties suspected to have been illegally acquired as well as the bank accounts of those individuals serving as fronts for Magu.
“Most of the recovered assets are allegedly sold without anyone knowing and without proper records and without recourse to the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing that has the mandate to undertake evaluation of such property,” the report read.
“Some of the assets have been taken over by EFCC officials while some are sold at giveaway prices to friends and cronies of the Acting Chairman.
“It is also on record that the (suspended) acting chairman is maintaining different accounts, including using proxies who return the benefit of the sold assets to him.
“These funds are then used to procure property and lands in the names of some of his proxies.”
The report also highlighted “massive wastage and deterioration” of physical assets (including landed property, cars and vessels recovered by the EFCC due to poor management.
It also noted with concern the failure to preserve and realise the economic value of the recovered assets, noting that some of the assets were recovered over 15 years ago and left fallow.
“A disturbing example is the two vessels that allegedly sunk at NNS Beecroft Naval BASE, Lagos and NNS Pathfinder Naval Base in Port Harcourt without trace under the watch of the acting Chairman of EFCC,” read the report.
“The vessels named MT GOOD SUCCESS, MV PSV DERBY and MV THAMES were allowed to sink in spite of several warnings from the Navy on the need to evacuate the petroleum products in the vessels.
“The total value of the assets lost due to the negligence runs into millions of US dollars. The (suspended) acting Chairman is yet to provide a report on what happened to these vessels.”
Magu, who is currently facing charges of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets as well as flagrant disobedience to directives and to court orders, would be expected to provide answers to the conflicting figures.
The PCARA report also noted that the few consultants hired by EFCC were not managing a substantial number of the recovered assets and that the EFCC has no capacity to manage the entire assets on its own.
The committee, therefore, alerted the nation on the economic and environmental implications of this negligent of duty by the commission.
It equally observed that EFCC made conflicting submissions or returns to it in respect of the non-cash assets which substantially affected the committee’s assignment.
“For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of Recovered Real Estate in the Original Returns it made to the President on 07/04/2017,” the report read.
“However, in its 1st Returns to PCARA on 13/12/2017, EFCC short-changed the system and gave the figure of 339 thereby failing to account for 497 property.
“It is interesting to note that when the Acting Chairman was further queried on this lapse, he made further contradictory 2nd return of 504 on 09/03/2018 thereby bridging the gap to 332 property.’’
The committee identified lack of internal control mechanisms/systems within EFCC and lack of adequate returns by EFCC departments and zonal offices as reasons for these discrepancies and inconsistencies by the commission.
The suspended EFCC boss was also alleged to have neglected and refused to comply with the regulations on the management of recovered assets, 2019, as he embarked on disposing of some of the property without regard to extant law.
“These Regulations was issued in line with international best practices and to ensure that all the anti-corruption agencies report all their recovered assets in a database provided by the Federal Government,The report read.
“It is important to note that the (suspended) Acting Chairman in apparent disregard of the regulation is disposing of these properties without regard to extant laws, and Regulations and without reference to the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and in effect, there is no way to have an audit of the property.
“This is also a clear sign that there is a deliberate attempt to hide the exact figures of recoveries, which is an indication of fraudulent intent.
“These actions of the (suspended) Ag. Chairman in refusing the Regulation is a clear case of refusal to follow lawful instructions and directives contrary to the provisions of the Act that establish the EFCC.”
According to the fresh report obtained by NAN, Magu and some top officials of EFCC were allegedly using these recovered assets to corruptly enrich themselves.

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