President Muhammadu Buhari has been told that former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu was vindicated by the recent ruling by London court on the P&ID.
In a letter to President Buhari last Thursday, four international anti-corruption groups said the recent ruling of the London High Court was a clear vindication of Magu.
“Magu has been held for more than two months and the accusations against him have not been proved. The international community have a lot of respect for Magu. A critical review of allegations against him will earn your country the prestige it deserves”, the four groups, The Corner House, Re: Common, Global Witness and Nigerian-based Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) said in the letter.
The letter despatched to President Buhari was signed by Nicholas Hildyard of The Corner House, Luca Manes of Re:Common, Olanrewaju Suraju for HEDA and Simon Taylor for Global Witness
In the letter the world leading anti-graft coalition congratulated Nigeria on the recent landmark victory in the London High Court in its case against Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID).
The groups said critical was the finding of the court that the EFCC under the then Acting Chairman Mr. Ibrahim Magu acted with deligence to investigate once credible grounds for suspecting fraud noting that the case would likely have floundered had it not been, firstly, for Buhari’s decision on 26 June 2018 to direct the Ministry of Justice to provide all necessary information, documents and support to the EFCC to enable a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding the gas processing and subsequent events.
It added that the efficiency with which the EFCC under Magu subsequently conducted its investigation aided the court’s ruling in favour of Nigeria.
“You and your chosen Chair of the EFCC emerge from the judgment as the heroes of the hour” they said.
According to them, the ruling has special significance for anti-corruption campaigners in the United Kingdom, where there has long been a concern that the UK courts are being used to launder money through fraudulent claims. Nigeria’s court challenge has not only brought this risk to wider public attention – but also shown the way forward in combatting it.
The groups said the findings by Sir Ross Cranson that there is a strong prima facie case that P&ID’s gas processing contract “was procured by bribery” was key to his ruling that Nigeria should be granted an extension of time to challenge the arbitration award against it.
The anti-corruption coalition said neutral readers of Sir Ross’ judgment will be left in no doubts as to the service that the EFCC has done for Nigeria adding that as the Federal Government itself noted in its skeleton argument, the investigation was “carried out much faster than similar investigations in the past.”
They praised the former EFCC Chairman for his diligence in the prosecution adding that in a very short period of time, the EFCC under Magu conducted interviews, obtained bank statements, traced funds, established that P&ID was not a company with the wherewithal to fulfil the contract and documented alleged bribes.
“As experienced investigators ourselves, we know how long collecting such evidence can take: the EFCC’s efforts were nothing short of Herculean and Nigeria has now reaped the reward.”
They argued that Sir Ross saw through the false allegations made by Malami that the EFCC under Magu’s leadership had failed to accord the presidential directive with any serious attention until . . . the scale had already tilted dangerously against Nigeria.
“Mr Malami’s allegations were (inevitably) picked up by P&ID in an effort to undermine the Federal Government’ case. Were it not for Sir Ross’ careful analysis of the facts, this might have succeeded”
Ross had said the speed of the EFFC’s early investigations “underplays the work which was undertaken over the June 2018-August 2019 period” adding that most obviously, “there was the successful prosecution of P&ID on 19 September 2019, based on the groundwork undertaken during this fifteen-month period”.
Sir Ross scoffed at Mr. Malami’s subsequent efforts to blame Magu rather than the EFCC when he said “With respect I find it hard to read the letter as an attack on Mr. Magu alone and not on the performance of the EFCC under his leadership.”
The group said for more than two months, the tribunal set up by President Buhari has failed to nail Magu. It asked that the accusation against Magu be withdrawn.
“The facts demand that he be exonerated of this charge. Contrary to several attempts by the Malami to divert attention from his act of sabotage and indecorous action, what now needs to be investigated by the Presidency is why Mr. Malami allowed a personal vendetta against Magu to provide ammunition to the Federal Government’s opponents and to jeopardise its righteous claim.
The groups said were it not for the perspicacity of Sir Ross, the case could have gone against Nigeria, in large part due to Mr. Malami’s false allegations against Magu.
The groups noted that Nigeria’s triumph was, as the Duke of Wellington said of the battle of Waterloo, “a damn close run thing” adding that for the moment, the President should not let the embarrassment caused by Malami cloud the victory.