Wahab Shittu, the counsel representing suspended EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu, on Thursday dismissed an allegation that operatives under the supervision of the embattled official demanded N75 million from a suspect.
By Kunle Sanni
The lawyer claimed that witnesses in the ongoing probe into corruption allegations against Mr Magu could not substantiate the bribery allegations against him.
A businessman, Donald Wokoma, had reportedly presented an audiotape, before the panel Tuesday, revealing how agents of the EFCC tried to extort him after freezing his company’s bank account.
The businessman tendered an affidavit to support his claim in a petition he wrote to the office of Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, for redress over the alleged extortion on August 6.
A copy of court affidavit obtained by PREMIUM TIMES showed how Mr Wokoma accused Mr Magu and his ‘boys’ of unlawfully freezing his company’s account ”Damijay Integrated Services Ltd” without a court order in 2018.
According to the affidavit filed before the FCT High Court dated August 10, Mr Wokoma said despite securing a valid injunction through his former lawyer, Victor Giwa, from Justice Agbaza of the same court on November 21, 2018, the EFCC did not lift the restriction.
He said EFCC agents handling the matter asked him on May 21, to sign three blank cheques with Diamond bank of N75 million at N25 million each out of the N250 million total sum in the company’s frozen account as a condition before unfreezing the said account.
He added that the cheques were later rejected “as the bank had gone into extinction”. He said he was later advised to execute an Irrevocable Standing Payment Order on June 15 – which was again rejected.
He said the unnamed EFCC agents allegedly requested for 40 per cent of the N250 million in the company’s accounts which he rejected.
But speaking with PREMIUM TIMES Wednesday evening, Mr Shittu dismissed the claim.
He said at the cross-examination session with the witnesses, “it was revealed that the N75 million allegedly linked to Mr Magu and his boys belonged to a third party lawyer, Fatima Hassan, who was employed by Mr Giwa to help retrieve Mr Wakoma’s frozen money”.
Mr Shittu also said, “two lawyers appeared at the presidential panel today; Victor Giwa, and Fatima Hassan.”
He said Ms Hassan informed the panel that the said amount “represents her legal fees to assist Mr Wokoma to unfreeze the N250 million”.
“Mr Giwa is a counsel to Donald Wakoma whose account was blocked. Mr Giwa contacted Ms Hassan, another lawyer to help Mr Wokoma his client unblock the money that was frozen which she agreed. She agreed to get 30 per cent of the N250 million with is N75 million,” he said.
“She then asked that Mr Wokoma’s team should issue a cheque to her as her fee upon the recovery that she was going to write to the ministry of justice to compel EFCC to unblock the account.
“The cheque they gave her was a Diamond bank account but she later requested that the cheque be converted into Irrevocable Standing Payment Order (ISPO) so that once she does the job, she would be paid.”
ISPOs are usually free of charge for both the payer and payee
“On her getting to the ministry of justice, she realised that there was an existing order from the high court that EFCC should unblock the account but when she realised that the EFCC had appealed the order so she couldn’t continue with the job and returned all the documents and cheque,” Mr Shittu added.
Mr Magu, earlier detained, has continued to appear before the presidential panel investigating him over allegations of corruption and insubordination, since his arrest on July 6.
The allegations were levelled against him by Mr Malami, whom he has had frosty relations with over the years.
The panel probing the allegations against Mr Magu has continued to bar members of the public from observing its sittings.