The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) distributed vehicles and other properties forfeited to the federal government to the State House and other federal agencies instead of auctioning them and lodging the proceeds in the federation account where it would be shared by all the federating units of the country.
This was revealed in the response the suspended chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, gave while responding to an allegation that he converted some assets forfeited to the government for personal enrichment.
Last week, President Muhammadu Buhari approved Mr Magu’s suspension from office.
Prior to his suspension, he was arrested and brought before the probe panel headed by Ayo Salami, a former president of the appeal court, to answer questions about his alleged involvement in corrupt practices and other vices.
Allegations of corruption and insubordination were levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Mr Magu has denied most of the allegations.
After his arrest, allegations that Mr Magu diverted billions of naira gotten from recovered funds, as well as the interests accrued from the funds, were circulated and published on various media platforms.
Mr Malami told the Mr Salami led probe panel in a letter seen by PREMIUM TIMES that the allegation that he enriched himself with forfeited assets was “totally false, untrue and merely targeted at destroying my hard-earned reputation as an incorruptible officer.”
“Since my assumption of office as the Ag. Chairman of the Commission, not a single recovered or forfeited property has been sold and the proceeds fraudulently converted,” he wrote.
He said all properties finally forfeited to the government were intact except those that secured presidential approval for allocation to some government agencies.
Of all the properties he said only the proceeds of 244 trucks, which were sold on the orders of the Federal High Court in conjunction with the Department Petroleum Resources (DPR) were remitted to the recovery account domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).
According to Mr Magu, properties that were distributed with the approval of President Buhari includes vehicles given ministry of humanitarian affairs and disaster management. The value price of these vehicles were deducted from the ministry’s allocation, Mr Magu claimed.
He also claimed the State House, National Commission for Refugees and Displaced Persons and Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) were allocated some of the vehicles.
Forfeited motorcycles were given to the National Directorate for Employment (NDE), he added.
Federal agencies who received real estate properties permanently forfeited to the federal government were the Voice of Nigeria (VON), National Directorate of Employment (NDE), Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, North-East Development Commission and Pension Transitional Arrangement Directorate (PTAD).
Properties which were under interim forfeiture to the government were also ‘rented” to the Nigeria Army, Federal Ministry of Finance, Fiscal Responsibility Commission, Nigeria in Diaspora Commission, and the Federal Airport Authority of Nigeria.
He said the Nigeria National Human Rights Commission and the National Council for Arts and Culture “have also approached the commission to rent some properties that were under interim forfeiture.” He did not explain who collects the rent.
Mr Magu also did not explain the criteria for distributing the forfeited vehicles to the agencies suggesting that the ‘presidency’ might have arbitrarily approved the distribution to the agencies.
While the EFCC investigates corruption and secures the forfeiture of proceeds of corruption from all federating units in the country, the letter revealed that it has mainly distributed these assets to federal agencies.
Mr Magu, however, added that the commission temporarily allowed Lagos State government to use a forfeited property as an isolation centre for patients of COVID 19.
He further stated that the EFCC has secured presidential approval to auction over 450 forfeited vehicles in Abuja and Lagos adding that the vehicles had already been valued by the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing and the National Automotive Council.