The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says allegations levelled against Ibrahim Magu, its chairman, by Charles Grassley, a US lawmaker, are baseless.
In a letter dated April 1, 2020, Grassley, a US republican senator and chairman of senate committee on finance, accussed the EFCC of persecuting members of the opposition party.
The letter, addressed to Deborah Connor, the chief money laundering and asset recovery section of the US department of justice, came at a period when the EFCC is processing the repatriation of $300m looted by Sani Abacha, former head of state.
In a statement on Friday, Tony Orilade, EFCC acting head of media and publicity, described the accusation as “a desperate bid to frustrate the repatriation of the funds”.
He said even Mohammed Bello Adoke, former attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, and an opposition PDP politician, “poured encomiums on Magu on the visible achievements of the EFCC under his watch”.
He quoted Adoke as saying “President Muhammadu Buhari is highly celebrated for fighting corruption and the poster boy of this celebrated achievement is clearly Magu”.
Orilade said the anti-graft agency remains “at the forefront of the transparent management of recovered funds and would not be dragged into any controversy over an allegation that has no fact or any iota of proof.”
Orilade emphasized that the EFCC has its records of how recovered funds and assets were managed.
He accused the lawmaker of following the antics of those who have resorted to blackmailing the current administration.
“The allegation clearly has no bearing with the operations of the EFCC nor address the painstaking efforts of Magu in tackling the menace of corruption, without fear or favour,” the statement read.
“The EFCC is involved in the processes of repatriation of the looted $300million by the former Head of State, the late Gen Sani Abacha and quite aware of the tripartite agreement involving Nigeria, the United States and Island of Jersey.
“As an anti-graft agency, the Commission has credible records of managing recovered funds and assets and it is rather unfortunate that the ranking US Senator, in a desperate bid to frustrate the repatriation of the funds, clearly embraced the well-worn antics of some unscrupulous elements in the country, who never succeeded in blackmailing the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari.”
Orilade said Magu’s award of excellence given by the US federal bureau of investigation establishes the agency’s credibility in the fight against corruption.
He mentioned that three governors of the ruling party are serving jail term, adding that such records further shows the impartial nature of the EFCC.
The spokesman said the anti-corruption agency will not be distracted by the claims of the US lawmaker.
“Even the harshest detractors of Mr. Magu know and always acknowledge his firm and bold handling of the anti- corruption fight which continues to earn him accolades within and outside Nigeria,” it read.
“Only recently, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, gave an Award of Excellence to Mr. Magu for his unique role in a joint field operation codenamed, “Operation Rewired”. The operation yielded great results internationally in tackling the menace of cyber-crime.
“It is worrisome that a high-ranking US lawmaker of the status of Grassley could not get his facts rightly nor establish a credible premise of attacking an FBI- celebrated Magu. Would the FBI have come out to acknowledge the effectiveness and credibility of the EFCC under Magu’s watch, if such allegation of oppressing opposition to President Buhari’s government had any merit?
“Grassley evidently lacks any sound basis for linking the EFCC and Magu with any oppressive or separatist agenda against government opposition.
“Records of convictions of the Commission are in the public domain as well as cases before the courts, which can be subjected to un-biased analysis and scrutiny.
“We wish to reiterate that the EFCC under Magu is too focused on the anti- graft agenda of the government to be distracted by such empty claims of the lawmaker. Grassley and his sponsors are clearly on quicksand on this issue.”
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