Wahab Shittu, counsel to suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has described the recent judgment, which overturned a $10bn arbitrarily awarded against Nigeria in a case against Process and Industrial Developments as a victory for his client.
In a petition to President Muhammadu Buhari, Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, whose complaint led to the removal of Magu, accused the suspended anti-graft chief of failing to act timeously on a presidential directive by the Ministry of Justice to commence investigation into the matter.
But delivering his judgment on Friday, Ross Cranston, a judge of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, had said he granted Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions based on the efforts of the Magu-led EFCC in establishing fraud and corruption in the contract.
Shittu said the judgment had vindicated Magu and exposed the good work of the EFCC under his watch.
He said, “I feel a strong desire to react to the latest UK verdict against P&ID in the context of the HAGF’S memo which triggered the ongoing judicial commission of inquiry probing the activities of the suspended Acting Chairman of EFCC Mr. Ibrahim Magu hereinafter referred to as “my client” and the vindication the outcome of the UK verdict represents in our national consciousness.
“It will be recalled that in the HAGF’S widely publicised memo to the President, the nation’s Chief Law Officer wrote amongst others against our client as follows; by letter dated 26th June 2018 that was copied to the Acting Chairman of EFCC, the Chief of Staff to the President conveyed Your Excellency’s directive mandating the investigation of the P& ID matter. This directive was followed up by a comprehensive letter dated 28th June 2018 to the EFCC setting out facts and documents for the investigation. As important as this matter is with its attendant threat to our national assets, the EFCC did not accord this presidential directive with any serious attention until a year after around July/August 2019 when the scale had already tilted dangerously against Nigeria.
“In view of this delay, police were requested to also conduct an independent investigation into the P&ID matter. In the same vein, in December 2019, there was request to the Ag. Chairman of the EFCC to forward copies of all charges, proof of evidence, and judgments in relation to all cases filed by the EFCC against P&ID and their associates, copies of warrants of arrest, copies of other documents in relation to the ongoing investigations.
“The above documents were required by the police to enable it interface with Interpol on this matter. The Acting Chairman of EFCC did not respond to my request. The above is just one out of several correspondences which institution has had cause to send to the EFCC and which were neither acknowledged nor replied. Examples of cases where the Acting Chairman either refused to respond to requests from the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and the Solicitor-General of the Federation are attached as (“Annex 3’’).
“In total, it is estimated that the Federal Government of Nigeria lose or would have lost Forty-Seven Billion, thirty-six million, five hundred and twenty eighty thousand, two hundred and nine Naira (N47, 036,528,209.00). In dollars, the estimated amount would be approximately, ($85,008,917.43) Eighty-five million, eight thousand, and nine hundred and seventeen pence and in pounds, it would be Seventy-four thousand Pounds (N74,000.00).
“These losses would be directly linked to the lack of response by the Acting Chairman or lack of coordination and the Acting Chairman’s recalcitrant attitude to work.
“The above conclusions from the HAGF may have been seriously questioned by the outcome of the UK court’s verdict which has sent Nigerians and the Nigerian ruling elite in a celebration mood and exposed the good work of EFCC under Magu’s watch.”