Yusuf Alli, Abuja
Officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), who investigated Process and Industrial Developments (P & ID), are still on suspension, despite the United Kingdom (UK) court verdict against Irish firm, a lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, has said. Shittu, who is counsel to suspended EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu, described the judgment, which favoured the Federal Government, as a vindication of his client. He said it was fulfilling that the judge of the UK Commercial Court, Sir Ross Cranston, last Thursday, noted that EFCC did a good investigation on P&ID. The anti-graft agency was under Magu’s watch during the investigation. Shittu, in a statement in Abuja, said rather than punishing Magu over his handling of the P&ID investigation, he should be given a heroic commendation. He said: “The public does not know that while this investigation was ongoing, the investigators and the prosecutors including Magu used to close from work at 1am, 2am and resume by 8am including Saturdays and Sundays. “Unfortunately some of these men are currently on suspension without pay or transferred out of EFCC for doing nothing but working assiduously to save this country. They were not given any allegation or issued query. “Contrariwise, the investigation against Magu and the EFCC would have caused the country to lose the judgment. This is because P&ID used the petition by the AGF against Magu to strengthen their case with Nigeria. “Luckily, we have an upright English judge, who prudently appreciated the excellent and patriotic effort of the EFCC under Magu and the ineffectiveness of the AGF’s complaint.” Shttu added: “Unfortunate that the handling of the P&ID investigation forms part of the allegations against him. 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.
“The decision of the English court again shows the result of a detailed and thorough investigation done by the EFCC led by Mr. Ibrahim Magu. It is a monumental landmark achievement occasioned by Magu’s hard work and leadership style. “The judgment has indeed greatly relieved the country from the impending and disastrous effect the execution of the $9.6 billion judgment plus interest would have had on our fragile economy. “The decision once more shows that, rather than punish Mr. Magu over his handling of the investigation, he should be given a heroic commendation for saving the country in a huge way. Magu should be celebrated rather than be vilified. “It is rather unfortunate that the handling of P&ID investigation forms part of the allegations against him, which led to his suspension. There is no gainsaying that the evidence relied on in arriving at the decision came from the EFCC under Magu. “The English judge was very satisfied with the way and manner the EFCC carried out its investigation when he held at paragraphs 253 and 254 of the judgment: “what occurred might have been the EFCC proceeding at its normal pace in the light of the resources allocated to it, the other inquiries it was conducting and conditions in Nigeria. “By comparison the position after August, 2019 might be exceptional and prompted by the serious position Nigeria faced in the light of Butchers J’s decision on the enforcement application. At this point it is impossible to say. “However, I cannot accept Mr. Mill’s (P&ID’s counsel) submission that there was no proper deligent investigation. The basic point is that there was no specific information such that Nigeria ought to have become aware of the building blocks of fraud now alleged.” “Furthermore, the judge observed at paragraph 251 that in my view Mr. Mill underplayed the work which was undertaken over the June 2018- August 2019period. In particular there was the successful prosecution of P& ID and P& ID Nigeria on 19 September, 2019 based on the ground work undertaken during this fifteen-month period. “Still underscoring the commendable work by the EFCC, the Judge concluded at page 260 that the fraud is complex in character and continuing. Even on my preliminary examination it comprises a number of quite different strands. “What occurred in this case was deliberately concealed, especially with international advisers it engaged; P& ID wore the clock of legitimacy. In the circumstances which Nigeria has prima facie established it acted reasonably in its investigations…”
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