Chris Steven, Abuja
A coalition of about 30 civil society groups has urged the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu to hand off the pension probe being carried out by the Federal Government.
The Coalition led by the I Belong to One Nigeria Initiative said Magu cannot investigate a case that it is directly involved in.
The Convener and Executive Coordinator of the group, James Ezema who briefed newsmen on behalf of the civil society groups in Abuja said there was the need to immediately rescue the President Muhammadu Buhari administration anti-corruption war from ridicule by corrupt agencies in order to save Nigeria from total collapse.
He said, “As we are all aware, Nigeria as a country is in dare need of urgent rescue from the powerful forces holding her captive over the years.
“There was the hope of getting things right after the election of President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, particularly based on his antecedents as a no nonsense anti-graft posture and consistent promises during the electioneering campaign in 2015 in which he said that anti corruption war would be given top priority by his government.
“No doubt the President Buhari began well when he launched his anti-graft campaign after his inauguration on May 29, 2015.
“However, recent events has shown that some powerful corrupt forces within and embedded in his Administration, have not only permeated some anti-graft agencies but have hijacked the war on Anti-corruption and today the hunters have vividly become the hunted.
“We, as responsible organisations who serve as watchdog cannot stand aside and look while our commonwealth is being Re-looted by those who should be at the forefront of recovering looted funds and assets.
“Recently, President Muhammadu Buhari ordered the audit of 222 properties comprising of residential and commercial properties in several parts of the country, which were recovered by the Abdulrasheed Maina-led Presidential Task Team on Pension Reforms and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“Barely 24 hours after, the President constituted a committee to audit assets recovered by the Maina’s team, which were being shared and sold at far below market value to some government officials and their cronies, other top Government operatives are also busy recently manufacturing the documents used to make these transactions within the EFCC walls.
“Worthy of note is the fact that the EFCC having 47 members was part of the Dr Maina-led Pension Taskforce Team and the said recovered properties were handed over to the EFCC by the Team.
“More so, in a recent petition to the Senate by the Chairman of George Uboh Whistleblower Network, Dr. George Uboh, he unambiguously accused the EFCC of re-looting over N2.112 trillion recovered from looters by failing to remit the money to the federal government’s treasury. This is the EFCC that is supposed to fighting corruption being fingered in looting of recovered funds and assets in its possession.
“Now, for the avoidance of doubt, the EFCC and the ICPC have the statutory powers to bank and take over custody of any recovered assets and that was why the Maina Taskforce Team, which the EFCC was part of, handed over the recovered assets from suspected pension thieves to the commission. The ICPC has not denied these assertions and infact the ICPC is said to have remmitted funds under it’s custody, but credible reports oozing out of the EFCC shows that these recovered loots have been relooted
“For instance, from available evidence, we want to bring to the notice of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the Senate, the House of Representatives and indeed the Nigerian people, that there are assets worth N1.63 trillion recovered from the alleged pension looters through the EFCC and ICPC as members of the Dr Maina-led Pension Taskforce Team, who executed the recoveries and took custody of the recovered assets.
“It will be disheartening to hear these accusations that the Ibrahim Magu and the Ibrahim Lamorde led EFCC have re-looted these recovered assets by sharing them with their cronies and corrupt government officials just like the Farida Waziri led EFCC accused Nuhu Ribadu of stealing recovered loots under his tenure as EFCC chairman, which Rbadu has not disproved till date.
“From the petition by Dr. George Uboh, it is not only the assets recovered by Maina-led Team that EFCC over the years has failed to account for. Has the EFCC been able to satisfactorily account for other hundreds of billions of Naira worth of assets it recovered from from former IGP Tafa Balogun, Nwude Emmanuel, DSP Alamieyesigha, Lucky Igbinedion, Edwin Antas and Samuel Omemehin, among others? The answer is NO! These situation has made our international partners start to question the sincerity of this Administration in its fight against corruption, and that’s a dangerous path our Country is taking.
“We therefore call on President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately order the EFCC to hands off all investigation relating to pension fraud as the Commission having been indicted and obviously indicted itself in the alleged sharing of the looted funds and direct the Attorney General of the Federation to institute an independent panel of enquiry with no police involved (police pension part of the STEALLING) to start this investigation from scratch to ascertain the level of impunity this relooting has reached.
“Nigerians should note that these looted asets are being shared in the guise of selling but below half of the market values of the recovered pension assets. It’s unfortunate that Mr President is still watching the various reports of corrupt behaviours by Magu and still keep mum without taking immediate action to curtail his excesses. s by its vehement denial
“We equally call on Mr. President to immediately institute a public probe of the pension assets recovery, where all the suspects shall be summoned under Government protection. to testify and tell Nigerians what and what assets were seized from them and where the assets are at the moment.
“The public probe panel should be made to verify all claims relating to pension assets recovery.
“The serving Acting EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu and all former chairmen of the Commission, from Nuhu Ribadu to Farida Waziri, and Ibrahim Lamorde should be probed and compelled to state their positions regarding the various recovered assets and funds in their custody during their respective stewardship at the EFCC.