A former Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mohammed Adoke, says the former Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, was power-drunk while in office. He said Magu forgot that he could have what he (Adoke) described as a hangover.
Adoke accused Magu of being the person that led the field operation to destroy him, noting that though Magu was used by some powerful persons, especially a very senior political office holder in the Presidency, Magu also had his own agenda.
Adoke refused to name the “very senior political office holder” in the Presidency he alleged had a hand in his travail.
The EFCC under Magu sued Adoke for allegedly laundering about N400m. The EFCC said Adoke had questions to answer for alleged abuse of office and money laundering in respect of the granting of the Oil Prospecting Licence 245 to Shell and ENI. Thus, he is being prosecuted for his alleged role in the $2bn Malabu oil deal.
In his book, titled ‘Burden of service: Reminiscences of Nigeria’s former Attorney-General’, published sometime ago, Adoke alleged that he was suffering a witch-hunt and that Magu became power-drunk, forgetting that it could be his undoing someday.
The confirmation of Magu, who was appointed in 2015 by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), was rejected twice by the Senate, citing incriminating report submitted against him by the Department of State Services.
The erstwhile EFCC boss was suspended from office in July 2020 following the allegations levelled against him and some other EFCC staff members. Magu’s trouble was said to have begun when the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), wrote a memo to the President, seeking his removal over alleged diversion of recovered loot.
Barely three months after the panel of enquiry set up by the President to probe the allegations against him submitted its report, Magu was replaced by Abdulrasheed Bawa, whose appointment was confirmed by the Senate on February 24, 2021.
Meanwhile, in the Chapter Eight of the book, Adoke said, “Initially, I had felt he (Magu) was an innocent tool in the hands of my tormentors. It so happens in life that some people are used to prosecute vendetta battles but they would not know. They would think they are doing humanity a service. But Magu’s subsequent utterances and actions confirmed him to be more than a passive actor in the process.”
The chapter is titled, ‘The Witch-hunters.’
Adoke said he was told that an influential governor from the North-West geopolitical zone once asked Magu why he was after him so vindictively, and that Magu reportedly said it was a top official in the presidency that directed him to do it. He said even though he heard the same thing from another source, he would not blame the official alone.
He wrote, “Magu also had his own agenda. A senator once asked him if he had any personal issues with me, and Magu replied that I owned half of the Centenary City in Abuja. Ironically, I had, on record, opposed the Centenary City project right from the beginning.
“Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, who was Secretary to the Government of the Federation, is my very good friend. We never had any disagreement until the issue of the Centenary City came up. I had opposed it to no end, in spite of my relationship with Anyim. Yet, Magu would claim authoritatively that I owned half of it.
“How could he come to such a strong conclusion without proper investigation? He was boasting that he would deal with me, he would finish me, he would disgrace me. That was how power-drunk he got, forgetting that he could end up with a hangover someday.”
Adoke said after Jonathan lost the 2015 election, he knew he was a marked man and that they would come for him. He explained that apart from some of his colleagues who didn’t like his guts, there were people outside government that felt he did not employ the trappings of his office for their benefit while others felt that he had checkmated their greed.
“What I could not foresee was that there would be such a broad coalition of interests against me. The OPL 245 conundrum proved to be the fortuitous rallying point they needed to express their repressed aggression,” he added.
The former AGF said further that though he was instrumental to how Magu was reinstated to the EFCC from the police where he had been vegetating, he never mentioned the role he played to Magu neither did he ask him for any favour.
He noted that there were many, adding negative comments about Magu, but that he made the request for Magu to return to the EFCC since that was what the then chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, requested.
He added, “The police management was not enthusiastic about it but obliged the request at my insistence. That was how Magu was reposted to EFCC. I never told him the role I played. I never asked him for any favours. If I were the corrupt person he has been used to portray me as, would I not have capitalised on this to demand favours from him while I was (the) AGF?
“How he allowed himself to be goaded into using the EFCC machinery to demonise and persecute me when he became the acting chairman was baffling. From what I have been made to understand, he said that he had no personal problem with me but that there were many powerful forces that were after me. I was in government for over five years and I understand how these things work. But I believe Magu went beyond his brief.”
In his response to Adoke’s claims in the book, Magu described the claims as lies, saying the former AGF misled the public in his book. He added, “It is obvious that what Adoke is offering the reading public in the account of his sojourn in governance is nothing but a bouquet of half-truths and plain lies. The accounts in Chapters eight and none as it relates to the EFCC and its chairman, Ibrahim Magu, are not only inaccurate but self-serving.”
Apart from the individuals he mentioned, Adoke said he also incurred the wrath of the EFCC when he proposed the creation of ‘Proceeds of Crimes and Asset Management Agency’ that would be independent of the EFCC and be charged with the management of recovered assets.
“That agency was part of a proposal made by our development partners which I had bought into completely,” he added.
The embattled former AGF pointed out that if the commission had bought into his suggestion, it wouldn’t have had the crisis that eventually pitched Magu against Malami, leading to Magu’s removal.
He said, “I believed strongly that it didn’t make sense for EFCC to be allowed to manage the assets they recover unsupervised for the obvious reason that accountability would be jeopardised. That proposal set the EFCC leadership against me. Had they listened to those suggestions, the crisis that eventually engulfed the agency over the management of recovered assets would have been averted.”
He said other issues that pitted the commission against him included his proposal that the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit be independent of the EFCC and his opposition to the payment of $1.5m as legal fee to a lawyer when the case was defence simpliciter and not recovery.