By Kingsley Nwezeh
Counsel to the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Mr. Wahab Shittu, said the decision of the English court that gave judgment in favour of Nigeria on P&ID case showed the result of a detailed and thorough investigation done by the EFCC led by the suspended chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
He said in a statement, weekend that the judgment was occasioned by Magu’s landmark achievement and leadership style.
Shittu said the judgment saved the country from the impending and disastrous effect the execution of the $9.6billion judgment plus interest would have had on Nigeria’s fragile economy.
Shittu noted that the decision showed that rather than punish 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 Mr. Magu. The English Judge was very satisfied with the way and manner the EFCC carried out its investigation in paragraphs 253 and 254 of the judgment.
Shittu cited the judgment which read in part: ‘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 diligent 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.”
He further noted that the judge observed in paragraph 251 that “in my view, Mr. Mill underplayed the work, which was undertaken over the June 2018- August 2019 period. 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”.
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…” Shittu maintained that the public did not know that while this investigation was on going, the investigators and 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.
“On the contrary, the investigation against Mr. 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 Mr. Magu to strengthen their case with Nigeria,” he said, while insisting that Nigeria won the case because of the presence of an upright judge.
“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,” he added.