Some financial transactions under the former acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, on Wednesday, resurfaced at the ongoing House of Representatives probe into recovered loots.
These transactions were unearthed when the current boss of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, appeared before the ad hoc committee investigating the status of recovered loots.
Mr Bawa had earlier claimed that EFCC was a ‘fully-budgeted’ entity.
“We don’t receive a single kobo from the recovery account,” he said.
A member of the committee, Darlington Nwakocha (PDP, Abia), flagged a transaction from 2017, showing that EFCC transfer N3 million to an entity, the Africa Association of Anti-Corruption Authorities.
“I heard him saying they don’t pay money to third parties from the recovery account. I can see this particular transfer on the 16th of April, 2017, to Africa Association of Anti-corruption Authorities which is to the tune of three-point something million,” Mr Darlington said.
Mr Bawa responded he has only been on the job for less than 100 days.
“Mr Chairman, as you are aware, I am less than 100 days in office. Even our accounting officer is less than 90 days in office. I can’t comment on what I don’t know about. I will have to refresh my memory on that to comment.”
Other suspicious transactions
Other transactions were also flagged by the committee. Some of the transactions involved transfers to and from the EFCC account.
Mr Bawa responded, “I don’t know, maybe administrative exigencies must have warranted the management of that time to do one or two things. What I can assure you is that when we come back, we will look into them.”
The Chairman of the Committee, Adejoro Adeogun (APC, Oyo), asked Mr Bawa if he was implying that his predecessor used administrative exigencies to “dip hands into an account he is not supposed to?”
The EFCC chairman responded that he will need to check his records ”to see if there are memos to explain the transactions”.
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“There must be a memo that can maybe explain this. I am seeing some payments here, like election monitoring.”
Earlier, the committee queried some transactions from 2017 and 2018, that resulted in over N11 million missing.
Although, Mr Bawa tried to downplay those transactions as a one-off, he later added that “the transactions happened in 2017 and 2018.”
Immediately after the questions on the suspicious transactions were raised, Mr Bawa pleaded with the committee that he has “a serious meeting on national security to attend.”
His request to leave early was questioned by the chairman of the committee.
“Are you implying that what we are doing here is not serious? Monday, you were asked to show up, you did not. Now, you want to go. Perhaps you have a genuine reason, but your language is not good,” Mr Adeogun said.
Mr Magu was suspended and arrested in July 2020, on allegations filed against him by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
Mr Malami had in a series of letters to the president accused Mr Magu of diverting billions of naira of recovered funds, as well as failing to act timeously on a presidential directive to investigate the controversial $9.6 billion P&ID British firm that secured a gas contract in Nigeria.
A Judicial Commission of Enquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004), was set up by President Muhamadu Buhari to investigate the activities of the EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020.
The panel, headed by Mr Ayo Salami, former president of the appeal court, investigated Mr Magu.
However, the panel and the presidency are yet to disclose the details of the report.
Mr Bawa was confirmed as substantive chairman of the EFCC in February by the Senate.
His confirmation followed his nomination by Mr Buhari. The appointment was hailed by many as historic, particularly due to his age and being the first chairman not from the Nigeria Police Force.
However, he also faced an allegation of selling recovered properties while heading the EFCC’s Port Harcourt office. The issue came up during his confirmation hearing, but he denied it.
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