- As N19b, $86m refund probe sparks anti-Magu protest
The Nigeria Customs Service, Tin Can Island Port Command, Thursday handed over two suspected stolen Range Rover (SUV) to Interpol, with the Customs Area Controller, Bashar Yusuf disclosing that their interception was sequel to intelligence report from Interpol.
He highlighted that the SUVs which arrived Lagos, stuffed inside a 1x40ft container No. UACN 548368\1 was imported from Washington D.C, in the United States of America and declared as Toyota Tundra and Chevrolet Cruiz with some bicycles.
He stated further that based on the intelligence made available to Customs from Interpol, all consignments from the United States were placed on high surveillance to ensure that the suspected container was tracked.
“The vessel was monitored from the port of loading to Tin Can Island Port and was intercepted on arrival at the Tin Can Island Port”, observed Comptroller Yusuf Bashar, adding that the vehicles were gold colour Range Rover Suv 2014 with Chasis No.SALGS2VFGEA126188 and one black coloured Range Rover Suv 2015 with Chasis No. SALGS37FOFA239330.
Speaking during the handing over, the Controller expressed the deep commitment of the Nigeria Customs Service to partner and share intelligence with all agencies, foreign and local in the spirit of inter-agency collaboration and synergy.
He emphatically declared that the interception would portray the country in better light, considering the concerted effort of the Service in ensuring that the exhibits were tracked, even as urged Nigerians to desist from acts capable of bringing the country to disrepute, particularly in this era of Information Technology where interception of this nature would be Internet based.
He vowed to resist any attempt by any individual or organization to use Nigeria as a conduit pipe for illicit transactions and noted that Interpol Nigeria will subject the vehicles to due diligence, and investigation through the Courts and would eventually use their internal mechanisms for repatriation of the vehicles to the United States.
In the meantime, a group of protesters stormed the Abuja office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday.
The protesters were demanding EFCC Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu’s removal.
Detectives said they had unveiled the sponsor of the protest. They claimed that it was sponsored by a governor, who is said to be angry over the ongoing investigation of alleged mismanagement of N19billion and $86million London-Paris Club loan refund.
The cash was deducted to pay consultants and legal advisors, but some of the beneficiaries are yet to get paid.
It was learnt that the governor was unhappy that the EFCC had closed in on him.
The EFCC has established a business link between the governor and one of the consultants.
The governor is believed by detectives to have paid for customised T-shirts, Fez caps and the crowd that invaded the EFCC Headquarters.
Some of the aides of the governor were said to have arrived in Abuja on Wednesday to coordinate the march, which was “designed to mount pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to drop Magu”.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “We have security report on how a governor has descended low to sponsor a protest against the continuation of the Acting EFCC chairman in office.
“Some of the aides of the governor had lodged in a posh hotel from where they coordinated the protest.
“Their real plan was to invade EFCC and vandalise it. But policemen and security agents on duty had been forewarned to be polite and allow the protesters to have their way.
“We know the governor is unhappy that the EFCC is probing his roles in the alleged mismanagement of N19billion and $86million London-Paris Club loan refund.
“One of the consultants involved in the alleged mismanagement was found to have a business relationship with the governor. Records showed that they had been business partners over the years.”
Some money, allegedly traced to the governor, has been recovered from the account of the consultancy firm,” The Nation learnt.
“It is a case of fighting for refund and reaping illegally from it. The governor had preferred a political solution to the investigation. He wanted the EFCC to stop it. But the agency prefers to see the probe to its logical conclusion,” the source added.
Earlier in the day, the protesters had made futile efforts to storm the EFCC.
They came under the banner of the Global Centre for Conscious Living Against Corruption( GLOCCOLAC), wielding placards with the inscription: “Magu must go! Magu must go! Magu must go!”
They sang: “We no go gree oh! We no go gree oh, Magu must go!
But the policemen and Civil Defence Corps members at the sentry stopped them from storming the facility.
The Director-General of GLOCCOLAC, Dr. Nwambu Gabriel, said the group was unhappy with EFCC’s style under Magu.
Additional report from Nation