Ikoyi $43 Million: Magu, Presidency In Dilemma Over The Discovered Cash

The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, might have put himself and the Presidency in a tight corner over the latest foreign cash seizure, which is said to be over N13 billion when converted.

This is coming on the heels of confusion over the ownership of the funds. While there had been brickbats over the temporarily forfeited sum, a Presidency source told Saturday Telegraph that some people within the corridors of powers are not happy with Magu for not letting The Presidency know about the latest operation before rushing to the media.

The EFCC had on Wednesday circulated photos and video footage of the cash hoard, which was recovered at Osborne Towers at 16, Osborne Road, in Ikoyi area of Lagos on Wednesday.

The hidden money, said to be in different currencies; $43,449,947; £27,800 and N23, 218,000 were hidden in safe cabinets inside one of the apartments in the building.

The source, who happened to be a high-ranking officer in one of the armed forces, explained that most of those who had spoken about the issue were not happy with Magu because he had put the Presidency in a difficult situation.

“It was silly of the EFCC to have rushed to the media. Now, it has put itself in trouble because the money belongs to those we call BGP (Big Government People) in our own phraseology.”

“How do you now expect the issue to be handled? And you know with the anti-corruption posture of the government, President Muhammadu Buhari and his people will wash their hands off.

And this will cause bad blood. Magu has really goofed this time”, he said. However, in the midst of claims and counter claims about the ownership of the building as well as the fund found in it, a former Minister of Aviation, Chief Femi Fani- Kayode, had alleged that the money belonged to Amaechi, the incumbent minister of transportation.

Though the Nigeria Intelligence Agency (NIA) had reportedly claimed ownership of the money, Fani-Kayode disagreed on his tweeter handle, saying that the “NIA does not keep cash in minister’s flats”.

The former minister, who twitted to put the record straight after conflicting reports on the issue wrote: “The $43 million is Rotimi Amaechi’s. He owns the flat it was found in too. 

NIA story is fake news.” But a media aide to the minister, Mr. David Iyofor, who replied Fani-Kayode on the same channel, wrote that the ex-minister is spreading “FAKE NEWS”. Iyofor in a replied tweet said: “Show us the title documents with Amaechi’s name as the owner or shut up.

Someone will just sniff something then come on Twitter to rant incomprehensible nonsense. 

Some fellows really need help, serious help. Lying outright to defame someone is not politics”, he said. However, sources within the EFCC also told the Saturday Telegraph that the NIA had denied knowledge of the report linking it with the money.

The EFCC source hinted that some NIA officials were at the anti-graft agency’s office in Lagos on Thursday to deny the report. In the same line of refutation, a former chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party, Adamu Mu’azu, who declared to have originally owned the high-rise home also denied any link with the cash, claiming to have sold the building to repay a bank loan.

The former Bauchi State governor in a statement issued on Friday explained that he built the property with a credit facility acquired from a bank, but had since sold it to repay the loan.
“I acquired the land and jointly develop it using a bank loan I obtained about nine years ago. 

However, all the flats had been sold to prospective buyers in order to pay back the loan. I do not own or occupy any of the apartments.

“I sold all the apartments through established estate agents as such I have no knowledge or interest in who purchases or rents any of the flats. I strongly believe that the efforts being made will surely unveil the real owner of such flat and the money recovered,” Mu’azu stated.

On the alleged ownership of the money by the NIA, the source said that the stunt being put up by the intelligence agency is a face-saving effort aimed at shielding the real owner of the money.

He further noted that the money is a pool of fresh notes recently brought into the country from the United States by a top government official who is very close to the corridors of power. “Such money is not brought in by ordinary people.

It takes only a very strong government personality with powerful backing to bring in such tranches of money. “We use private jets and special government flights to freight such huge currencies, especially when it is US notes.

The US government does not just allow such big amount to move anyhow. There are procedures. 

“Did you notice the large size and the blank wrappers? That shows it is fresh from the mint.

It can only be brought in with special status as it is done with government money. “The NIA is just trying to defend the indefensible. If the money belongs to them, they should have kept it with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) or place it in an escrow account, as it is the normal practice with security agents”, he said. Asked whether the Presidency would sanction the leadership of the EFCC, he noted that the BGP are in a dilemma as to the next line of action.

“Though they are not happy with Magu’s rush to the press, there is nothing they can do to him now, because he is seen in public as fighting Mr. President’s war against the Senate. “If they fire him, the Senate will win and if they leave him, the BGP will not be happy with Buhari.

It is a like matter between the devil and the deep blue sea, because some of the BGP actually believe that Magu knew the owner but deliberately wanted to rubbish them.

“These are some of the people that does not want him confirmed as the EFCC chairman and it is not unlikely that he is fighting back to expose them. Some of them believe that he knew and he purposely put the matter in public domain”, the source noted.

When contacted, the phone of Femi Adesina Senior Special Adviser (Media) to the President rang out. But an online portal, Premium Times, quoted him as saying that the issue is a security matter and not a presidency issue, so he couldn't comment.

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