Monday Ubani, a former vice-president of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), says he prayed for God to disgrace Ibrahim Magu out of office for keeping him in detention for 23 days against a court order.
Magu, former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari in July 2020.
He was alleged to have mishandled recovered loot and sold seized assets to his associates.
Ubani, who was counsel to Ngozi Olejeme, former chairman of the Nigeria Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF), said Magu flouted court orders and embarked on media trial of suspects.
Ubani had stood as surety for Olejeme after the EFCC declared her wanted in September 2017 over allegations of “criminal conspiracy, abuse of oﬃce, diversion of public funds and money laundering” to the tune of N69 billion.
But Olejeme jumped bail and travelled abroad, and the former EFCC chairman allegedly ordered the detention of Ubani.
“About four years ago or thereabout, a woman by name Dr Mrs Ngozi Olejeme sought my legal representation over an allegation that she converted about N69 billion of Nigerian Social Insurance Trust Fund (NSITF) to herself while she held sway as the chairman during the tenure of former President Goodluck Jonathan,” Ubani said.
“She opined that her medical condition made it impossible for her to honour their previous invitations, however she was prepared to honour them if she can be guaranteed fair trial without illegal detention. My client naturally was afraid, having been abreast of the antecedent of EFCC under Magu but I assured her that she will get a fair trial as we were not under a Banana Republic.
“On the date we agreed, she returned from abroad and on the following Monday morning I took her to the office of EFCC in Abuja. Her interrogation on the first day lasted about eight hours after which they told me politely that they will not allow her to go home that day. Her detention that we all thought will be short later entered the ninth day.
“On the date slated for the hearing of the application, the court did not sit but the EFCC prosecuting counsel wrote and convinced the then Acting Chairman to release the woman on administrative bail. We provided two senior civil servants of grade level 14 and 15 as sureties as required by their condition of bail and presented to them. When the application was presented before Magu, he blatantly refused to approve, insisting that the sureties must be ‘Elder Statesmen’, contrary to the bail condition. We were wondering who these elder statesmen should be.
“The Unit head then quipped that the chairman will not mind if I will stand surety for her since I was the one that convinced her to come down for her case. My client heard him clearly that my suretyship will grant her freedom to go home. At that point I had a moral burden to get her out of detention having been denied that opportunity after returning from abroad for 14 days.”
UBANI: MAGU PLAYED GOD
Ubani further noted that the EFCC under Magu “played God”. He alleged the commission was more interested in Olejeme forfeiting her properties while she had not been convicted of the allegations brought against her.
“In course of the investigation, two things happened that startled me. One was that EFCC’s investigation was anchored only on one witness whose evidence was mere hearsay and uncorroborated. It was the witness’s words against the accused and secondly, EFCC was more interested in the properties of the woman more than the facts of the case that will secure her conviction,” the lawyer said.
“Ibrahim Magu disobeyed the court order and kept me in detention for 23 days contrary to the order of the court.
“I prayed two “dangerous” prayers while in and out of detention. Yes you heard me right. One, is that as long as Ibrahim Magu has refused to see the wrong he has committed against me and several others and has not apologised including making peace, that God should disgrace him out of office.”
Ubani further noted that he withdrew his suretyship of the former NSITF chairman on April 16.