Suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has been released from police custody.
Mr Magu’s lawyer Toyin Ojaomo confirmed to Channels Television that the suspended EFCC boss is no longer in confinement.
Earlier on Wednesday, the Inspector-General of Police, Mohammed Adamu, asked Magu, to direct his bail application to the presidential panel.
Mr Oluwatosin Ojaomo, Magu’s legal representative, had asked the IGP to grant bail to his client on “self-recognisance” — after the suspended EFCC chief had spent four days in custody.
But in a letter dated July 14, 2020, and addressed to Mr Ojaomo, the IGP said the police force is not investigating and detaining Magu, so, it cannot grant the bail request.
It also advised the lawyer to redirect his request to the chairman of the presidential panel for appropriate attention.
The letter read in part: “The Inspector-General of Police directs that your attention be drawn to the fact that the Nigeria Police Force is not investigating CP Ibrahim Magu (your client), and he is accordingly, not being detained by the Police but by the Presidential Panel that is investigating the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“The Inspector-General of Police, therefore, advises that you reconsider directing your request to the Chairman of the Presidential Panel for appropriate attention.”
Mr Magu was invited by the panel headed by Ayo Salami, a retired President of the Appeal Court in the Presidential Villa in Abuja on July 6.
He was later moved to Area 10 Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police in Abuja where he has since been detained.
On June 11, President Muhammadu Buhari affirmed the suspension of Mr Magu and it took effect immediately.
According to a statement from the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the presidential directive was to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.
The Presidency also said that those who see the investigation as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have failed to see the point.
Magu’s journey so far
Magu has been in detention since the presidential panel probing the EFCC commenced investigations into the activities of the agency under him about a fortnight ago.
The embattled suspended chairman of the EFCC is being questioned following allegations of fraud against him by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
Magu took over as acting boss of the EFCC late in 2015, after his predecessor, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde was sacked.
With the five years in which he served as acting chairman of the EFCC, the Nigerian Senate refused severally to confirm Magu.
Explaining the reason behind the decision, the Senate said that the security report available to Parliament showed that Magu is not fit to be chairman of the antigraft body.
Addressing journalists at the National Assembly, Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi said that based on security reports, the Senate cannot proceed to confirm the acting EFCC Chairman.
There was an initial challenge put up by Magu’s lawyers contesting the Senate’s authority to deny his appointment, however, a Federal High Court in Abuja ruled that the Senate is conferred with the authority to ensure the choice of “only suitable and credible persons for appointment to the office”.
Following the refusal to confirm Magu as EFCC Chairman, several calls were made seeking his removal but none of the calls got a positive nod.
A major attempt to remove Magu as acting head of the EFCC in 2019 failed, after the Federal High Court in Abuja dismissed some suits to this effect.
The plaintiffs had sought Magu’s removal on the grounds that the Senate had twice rejected his appointment and refused to screen him to take up the position in a substantive capacity.
They argued that Mr. Magu, who has been acting as the EFCC chairman since 2015, after being rejected by the senate, was not fit to continue to serve in that capacity.
However, delivering judgment, Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu held that there was a lacuna in the law by not providing for the timeframe within which a person could act as EFCC’s chairman.
She noted that although the lacuna ought not to be exploited to “install” Magu in office in substantive capacity without the Senate confirmation, it had given the President as the appointor “the proverbial yam and the knife to do as he pleases” with the appointment of the EFCC chairman.
As a result of that, the suits were deemed to be of no moment, and so they were dismissed.