Tuesday, 10 January 2017 15:29

Fresh Facts Emerge On Magu’s Rejection By Senate As Justice Minister Begins Probe

The embattled Acting Chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft body – the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)  -- Mr. Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, is facing fresh allegations of corruption and manufacture of some fraudulent documents after his confirmation was stepped down  by the Country’s Upper Chamber – the Senate – on account of security reports.

 

The latest is a petition alleging official corruption and manufacture of some fraudulent documents by Magu and some EFCC officers  in conspiracy with some top officials of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to bungle a high profile case of issuance of dud cheques and bank fraud amounting to over N5,260,000,000.00 (N5.26 billion ) perpetrated by a second generation bank in connivance  with its Chairman, Managing Director and others and protection of the offenders by Magu.

The Legion of Aggrieved Nigerians Against Crime (LANAC), an NGO  and  Anti- Corruption Crusaders in Lagos  had on November 28, 2016 forwarded its petitions to  the  Senate President, Bukola Saraki, the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti- Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Utazi Chukwuka Godfrey,  Senate Spokesman, Senator Abdulahi Sabi and  the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, to stop Magu’s confirmation.

LANAC in its Letter signed by the National Coordinator, Philip Odekeye, stated that it had earlier sent a Letter of Protest dated 4th May 2016 to President Muhammadu Buhari before Magu’s name was forwarded by the Presidency to the Senate for confirmation.

Similarly, Messers Wole Abdulkadir & Co. Solicitors to Starross Energy Limited ( the Victim or  the Company that was allegedly defrauded)  had on December 14,  2016 petitioned the Senate  President, Senator Utazi, the Attorney General of the Federation and Director of Public Prosecution  (DPP),  Mr. Muhammed Saidu Diri, over the alleged Fraud.

The Letters were received and stamped also on December 14, 2016 at both Offices at the Federal Ministry of Justice while Offices of Senate President and Senator Utazi received and stamped the Letters on December 9, 2016 and  photocopies of the Petitions were distributed to other Senators ahead  of the scheduled screening of Magu. On the basis of the damning accusations of alleged corruption, conspiracy and shady deals  contained therein against Magu and some EFCC Officers, Magu  was not confirmed.

The lawyers stated that the Victim was a company legally registered under the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) for buying, selling, marketing and distributing  all kinds of petroleum products including crude oil.

The Victim, executed an agreement or MOU with its Suppliers who were the Vessel Handlers / Managers of the Crude Oil Tanker, MT Cosmic Jewel and who were also marketing about 2,000,000 Barrels of Bonny Light Crude Oil (BLCO) loaded in the Vessel in October 2014 for NNPC/ Joint Venture Operators who were the Owners of the Crude Oil.

The lawyers also stated that under the Agreement or MOU, the Victim as an Affiliate or Middleman was to bring  a ready, willing and able buyer to buy the Crude Oil and that the difference between the price given in the Agreement or MOU by the Suppliers to the Victim and any price given by the Victim  to any Buyer brought by the Victim  to buy the Crude Oil was the consideration or profit for the  service of the Victim  in the transaction.

It was further agreed that any Buyer brought by the Victim  shall  pay the full  cost of the cargo in Dollars or Naira equivalent to the nominated Bank Account of  NNPC/ Joint Venture Operators (Owner of the Crude Oil) which in turn shall issue all the documents for the sale and transfer of ownership of the crude oil to such Buyer after making full payment for the crude oil.

In October, 2014 the Victim  got a Buyer who was acting as a Frontman or Agent for Weman Bank , the Chairman, Managing  Director and Management of the  Bank were greatly interested in the Crude Oil deal and connived with  their Frontman and two Managers of the Bank to act as the Bank Representatives and to lure the Victim to the Bank  Head Office for the meetings they held  with the Victim at the Bank’s Head Office Conference Room  on 27th and 28th October, 2014 where  they assured the  Victim that the Bank was actually buying the Crude  Oil but was using the Frontman as the Buyer to buy the Crude Oil so as to resell the Crude Oil to their Foreign Off takers and make Profit.

In preparation for the meeting of 27th October, 2014 the Victim on the 26th October 2014 (eve of the meeting) tracked the loaded Vessel, MT Cosmic Jewel on the Internet  and printed out the AIS Colour Photographs and Live Ship Map showing that it was on the Nigeria Water that Night at 8.39 pm on 26th October 2014.

The Victim took the photographs of MT Cosmic Jewel  Map and other Documents to the meeting but would not release them unless the Bank’s Buyer made a Commitment Deposit of USA$ 2,000,000.00. The WEMA Bank’s Buyer agreed and accepted to give the Victim two Cheques  totaling N346,000,000.00 (the  Naira  equivalent of USA$ 2,000,000.00 at that time) as Commitment Deposit after they must have tracked and confirmed the Cargo and agreed that the Cheques would be cashed immediately by the Victim.

 

The Bank initiated the preparation of the  Sales and Purchase Agreement (SPA) of 28th October 2014  at the  Bank Head Office which reflected the two Cheques totaling N346,000,000.00 to be paid to the Victim. The Bank also induced the Victim to open a Corporate Account  at the Bank’s Head Office  Branch so as to make the transfer of the money covered by the two cheques from the bank’s Buyer Account in the Bank into the Victim’s new Account in the same Bank in- house and instant in the Transaction.

 

On the strength of the repeated assurance given to the Victim by the Bank and its Buyer that the Bank had paid Sufficient Fund into the Buyer’s  Account to buy the Crude Oil, the Victim released the Photographs of  MT Cosmic Jewel, Map  showing its location on Nigeria Waters, Bills of Lading, Cargo Manifest, Certificate of Origin, CPA and other  documents containing the telephone numbers, contact address and other vital information of the Victim’s Suppliers to the Bank and its Buyer.

 

After obtaining the Cargo Documents from the Victim, the Bank and its Buyer used the Bank Head Office Machines and Computers to reproduce, Scan and sent the Documents by E-mail to their  Foreign Off Takers. They also used the Bank Head Office internet  facilities to track the Cargo and confirmed that it was real.

 

The Banks Foreign Off Takers also confirmed at about 9.00 pm in  the Night  of 28th October 2014 bytelephone to the Bank Representatives that they had tracked MT Cosmic Jewel  via Satellite and also confirmed that the foreign Vessel  came to Nigeria in 2014 and had paid the statutory levies due to the Federal Government and was genuinely loaded with about 2,000,000 Barrels of Crude Oil and was lawfully anchored on the Nigeria Waters and that the Photographs, Map, and other  Documents of MT Cosmic Jewel obtained from the  Victim were authentic.

 

 After tracking and confirming the loaded Vessel MT. Cosmic Jewel, The Bank and its Buyer gave the Victim two Cheques totaling N346,000,000.00 as the agreed Commitment Deposit. Both parties signed and stamped the Letter of Confirmation dated 28th October 2016 in which the Victim acknowledged the receipt of the two Cheques and the Bank’s Buyer agreed therein that  the two Cheques were given to the Victim after they  tracked and confirmed that MT Cosmic Jewel was loaded with about 2,600,000 Barrels and was on the Nigeria Waters at  the Bonny Axis of the Guinea Gulf on 28th October, 2014.

 

However, on presentation, the  lawyers said the two Cheques bounced at the bank after both parties had earlier agreed that if the Buyer and the Bank or any person(s) or Company circumvented the Victim , the N346,000,000.00 Commitment Deposit would be forfeited as Penalty to the Victim, and  in addition, the Money equivalent to any loss suffered by the Victim  (Starross Energy Limited)  In the event of any false pretense or circumvention  would be paid to the Victim as provided for under Articles 8.5, 8.6 and 8.7 of the Sales and Purchase Agreement dated 28th October, 2014.

 

The Victim suspected that the Bank with the connivance of its Chairman , Managing, Director, Directors, Managers and Frontman had cut off, by passed and circumvented the Victim and had gone behind the Victim to conclude the deal. It then became clear that they had used the Bank’s Head Office premises as Scene of Crime to deceive and to lure the Victim to the Bank as a Customer and had deliberately  issued the two  Dud Cheques to the Victim under false pretense and obtained the Victim’s Property or Documents of the loaded Vessel MT Cosmic Jewel with intent to defraud the Victim of the Money or Profit expected by the Victim in the Transaction.

 

As a result  of the deliberate Fraud played on the Victim by the Bank at the Bank’s Head Office, the Victim suffered the Economic loss of over N5,260,000,000.00 covering the Commitment Deposit of N346,000,000.00  and N4,914,000,000.00 (being the difference in the Price of N80.00 per litre  given by the Victim to the Bank and its Buyer in the  Agreement or  SPA of 28th October 2014 and N67.00 per litre given by the Suppliers to the Victim which is N13.00 per litre multiplied by 378,000,000 litres (at 189 litres  per Barrel). 

 

The lawyers ( Wole Abdulkadir & Co) and LANAC  in February 2015 forwarded letters to the Chairman and Managing Director of the Bank accusing them of issuing Dud Cheques to the Victim and perpetrating Bank Fraud and demanded payment  of N5,260,000,000.00 to the Victim.

 

 In response, the Bank in its Letter dated 5th February 2015 did not deny issuing the Dud Cheques and did not deny  using its Head  Office premises to defraud the Victim but stated that the Bank was looking into the matter and would get back soonest. Surprisingly, the Bank sent a Manager of the  Bank with  three hefty men in February 2015 to the Victim’s Office to force the Victim to give them the Original Copies of the two Dud Cheques but they failed woefully.

 

LANAC and the lawyers stated that thereafter, the Bank and its Frontman boasted that instead of paying N5,260,000,000.00 or any Money  to the Victim, if report to the EFCC,  the Bank was well known to EFCC and would give part of the Money as Bribe or gratification to the EFCC  Officers,  judges and others relevant to the Case to stop or bungle the Case and to protect them from arrest and prosecution.

 

The lawyers (Wole Abdulkadir & Co.) forwarded the petition dated 19th November 2015 to the Acting Chairman of EFCC , Mr. Ibrahim Magu, in respect of the Issuance of Dud Cheques and Bank Fraud. 

 

The lawyers said that after going through the Petition with overwhelming Documents and Statements made by several Witnesses in support of the Case, EFCC Officers said that it was a clear criminal case of bank fraud and that the EFCC would go to the Bank Head Office to take its Photographs as  the Scene of Crime, seize the Bank Cameras, Machines, Computers and  Internet facilities used in committing the alleged Fraud and would arrest and prosecute the Offenders and compel the Bank to pay the Money to the Victim but  that they should give EFCC two weeks to do its groundwork .

 

On the alleged complicity and Corruption of Magu, the lawyers accused Magu that after Magu and some EFCC Officers had met the Bank within the said two weeks,  they suddenly changed and abandoned the investigation of the Dud  Cheques  and Bank Fraud and acted openly and recklessly as Defense Counsel of the offenders.

 

In addition, the EFCC in its Lagos Office, in February  2015 showed the lawyers and Victim Documents which Magu and the EFCC Officers brought from NIMASA which stated  that the last time MT Cosmic Jewel came to Nigeria was in May 2014 and Magu ordered that since the Documents had established that MT Cosmic Jewel was not on Nigeria Water after May 2014 the two Dud Cheques issued by the Bank to the Victim in October 2014 had no value and that the Case be stopped and the Bank Chairman, Managing Director and others should  not be arrested or prosecuted.

 

The lawyers stated that, In view of the overwhelming documents  supporting the Case including  the Agreement and Letter of Confirmation dated 28th  October, 2014 earlier signed and stamped by the Bank’s Buyer and the Victim before several witnesses at the Bank’s Head  Office in which both parties agreed that the two Cheques totaling N346,000,000.00 were given to the Victim as Commitment Deposit after the Bank and the Buyer had obtained the Victim’s property or cargo documents of MT Cosmic Jewel and had confirmed that MT Cosmic Jewel was loaded with about N2,000,000 Barrels of Crude Oil and was on the Nigeria Waters on 28th October, 2014, it became clear that Magu had conspired with some Officers of EFCC and NIMASA to manufacture Fraudulent Documents containing false pretense to twist the fact, to pervert  justice, to stop or  bungle the case and to shield  or protect the Bank, its Chairman, Managing Director and others from arrest and prosecution.  

The lawyers said  that despite their repeated demand and three letters sent to the EFCC, Magu and his Officers   could not  give the lawyers any EFCC Investigation Report or Letter in writing to confirm that the Case was stopped because MT Cosmic Jewel was not on the  Nigeria Waters after May 2014.

The lawyers and the Victim  also went to NIMASA for enquiry where it was confirmed that the Bank and EFCC Officers had gone to NIMASA in respect of  MT Cosmic Jewel. The lawyers sent an Application dated 1st February, 2016 to  NIMASA for  Search on MT Cosmic Jewel in Nigeria in 2014. Surprisingly, NIMASA in the letter of  2nd March 2014 stated that MT. Cosmic Jewel did not come to Nigeria in 2014.

LANAC forwarded the Letter dated 7th April, 2016 to NIMASA to warn NIMASA of the legal consequences of Corruption, Conspiracy and Issuance of Fraudulent Documents containing  false pretence to protect Offenders involved in the  Bank Fraud and wanted to know if  MT Cosmic  Jewel was in Nigeria in 2014 or not.

In reply, NIMASA made a U-turn and confirmed in its Letter of 13th April, 2016 to LANAC that MT Cosmic Jewel  actually came to Nigeria three times between January to May 2014 and stayed on the Nigeria Water for several months after May 2014 which thereby rendered as false the claim made in the NIMASA earlier Letter of  2nd March, 2014 and also as false the Claim made in the fraudulent Documents relied upon by Magu for stopping the Case and for  protecting or shielding the Offenders from arrest and prosecution.

Against this background, LANAC and the lawyers maintained that Magu was not fit  to be the  substantive Chairman of the EFCC and must be investigated, prosecuted and dismissed from Service with others if indicted or found guilty, They also want the Bank’s Chairman, Managing Director and others to be arrested and prosecuted and be compelled to pay the said Money to the Victim as prescribed by law.

Meanwhile, the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice says it has "begun" investigation of the Acting  EFCC Chairman.

The Director of Public Prosecutions of the Federation (DPP), Muhammad Saidu Diri  stated this in a Letter he signed on behalf of the Minister.

The Letter reads in part:" I am directed to acknowledge your Letter (the Petitioner) dated 4th May 2016 on the above subject matter (Re: Letter of Protest against fraudulent documents manufactured by the EFCC to bungle a N5.2 Billion Bank Fraud and protection of Criminals from arrest and prosecution) is being investigated.

The outcome would be communicated to you as soon as action is completed on it."

It will be recalled that a former Nigerian Bar Association President, Joseph Daudu (SAN) has said that the Senate's decision on Magu was final.

At a news conference in Abuja on December 20, 2016, Daudu, who is also the Chairman of African Bar Association (ABA), said President Buhari should treat Magu's Case as closed and look for a better replacement of Magu to run the Nation's Anti-graft body.

He said Magu could not be retained any longer in an acting capacity following his rejection by the Senate.

Also, the Senate's Spokesman, Senator Abdulahi Sabi has dissociated the Upper  Chamber from a comment attributed to Senator Ali Ndume during a visit to President  Buhari that the Red Chamber had not rejected Magu's nomination.

He said  that the Senate's decision was final and that the matter could not be revisited owing to what he called grave Corruption allegation against the man fighting Corruption.

Mr Desmond Nunugwu, a Federal Ministry of Defence Official, who was invited to the Commission in connection with a Case, reportedly died mysteriously in their custody sometime in June 2016.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 January 2017 23:55

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