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Indictment of Magu by PCARA: Why Malami should not be crucified

Lie repeatedly told becomes the truth — Joseph Goebbles.

This quote aptly captured the current orchestrated media attacks on the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN). It is no more news that in November 22, 2017, President Muhammadu Buhai, in line with his administration’s zero tolerance for corruption, set up a Committee called: Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA), to audit assets recovered by Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other agencies between 29th May 2015- 22nd November 2018.

As protocols demands, PCARA was expected to send in the report on the assignment given to it by the President, and they did. Is there any nexus between the content of PCARA’s audit report and the so-called “Malami’s allegations against Magu:”?

On September 11, 2018, the personal assistant on New Media to President Buhari, Basher Ahmed’s twitter handle read, “President Muhammadu Buhari receives Audit Report from the Presidential Audit Committee on Recovered Assets led by the Chairman of the Committee, Mr Femi Lijadu today at the State House, Abuja”.

It goes without doubt that PCARA submitted its report on audit of agencies with respect to recovered assets, including EFCC to the President in person. My little understanding of how government works is that the President, in turn, handed over the PCARA report to the attorney general for thorough legal scrutiny and to prepare memo on it.

The consequential memo the AGF wrote to President Buhari on the findings of PCARA; is what the media erroneously portrayed as allegations against the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu; in the process, making it look as if Abubakar Malami badly wants Magu out of the agency.

In fact-checking the so-called allegations against Magu, this writer discovered that some media outfits, for reason best known to them, avoided PCARA audit report in their reportage, thereby making the whole issue look as if the AGF is trying to use his office to silence Magu.

For example, a reputable online newspaper reported the setting up of PCARA in November 22, 2017 thus: Buhari sets up committee to audit recovered “loots”. The same newspaper reported the transmission of the audit report from PACRA by the AGF via memo he forwarded to the President on July 31, 2020 thus: “Malami’s Allegations against Magu”. Mischief?

Further check on anti Abubakar Malami report by some media outfits in Nigeria, revealed interesting contradictions by the thecable.com. On July 12, 2020, TheCable came out with this: “Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has been accused of failing to give proper account of missing 332 out of the 836 recovered real estate properties in March 2018, the News Agency of Nigeria reports”.

On July 31, 2020, of the online’s report with this caption: “Malami’s Allegations against Magu”. This caption contains the same item for which thecable quoted NAN’s report in 12/7/2020. For avoidance of doubt, here is thecale’s version of NAN’s report but with “Malami’s Allegations against Magu” caption: –“(ix) The PCARA equally observed that EFCC made conflicting submissions or returns to it in respect of the non-cash assets which substantially affected the committee’s assignment.

For instance, EFCC stated 836 as the number of Recovered Real Estate in the Original Return it made to Mr. President on 07/04/2017. However, in its 1st Returns to PCARA on 13/12/ 2017, EFCC gave the figure of 339 while in the 2nd Returns to PCARA on 09/03/2018 it stated the recoveries to be 504. The 1st and 2nd Returns total 843. —-.

The question here remains, why is it that the so-called Malami’s Allegations against Magu, is the same as PCARA’s report? It seems some media outfits skillfully packaged the memorandum the AGF presented to the President by way of executive summary of the PCARA’s final audit report; as allegations from AGF against Magu. Sad!

In fact-checking further, verifiable reports show that Olufemi Lijadu was the Chairman of PCARA. Malami was not even a member of PCARA. If he was part of PCARA, the misleading reports that he leveled allegations against Magu would have held water.

Could it be that some powerful people are after Malami because of his principle stance on rule of law and constitutionalism? It could be recall that Malami had in the past accused some elites of buying “looted” properties sized by EFCC. Who knows the price these individuals bought the choice properties, if Malami’s accusation is true.

On the issue of making a 360 degree u-turn after saying he was ready to testify before Justice Salami’s panel because of the privileges of his office. Now that it is almost clear that Malami did not level any allegations against Magu, on what basis will he be appearing before Justice Ayo Salami’s panel? Will he appear as amicus (friend) of Salami’s panel?

Or will he appear as the attorney of PCARA? To this writer, if Malami has to appear before Justice Salami’s panel, it will be to furnish the panel with information on PCARA. He is not a party in Ibrahim Magu’s case with the panel.

To avoid this type of misinformation in the future, an interaction between the AGF’s office with patriotic media organizations on matters like becomes imperative.

Quite frankly, if there was media interaction between AGF’s office and the media on PCARA, mischief makers would have been silenced. By enlighten engagement between government and the media, adherents of Joseph Goebbles’s school of thought would have been kept in check.

Emeka Oraetoka, Information Management Consultant & Researcher, wrote in from Abuja; e-mail: giltsdaimension@gmail.com; GSM: 08056031187 09039094636.

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