By Ann Mcgregor, PhD
This is not the best of times for the head of the Nigeria’s anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu following a damning assessment of his leadership and the Commission by Peer Review Mechanism of development partners in Anti Corruption, Money Laundering and Cyber Crimes containment strategy chain.
Selective, discriminatory and often inconclusive investigations have stalled and frustrated foreign partners.
The FBI and US treasury officials are irked by some EFCC officials including Magu, who subvert Cyber Crimes investigations and frustrate diligent prosecution of offenders, often, accused of tipping suspect in advance.
US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo last week in a press statement said $ 6 million and Nigerian advance fee fraud gang has been busted by the FBI.
This is coming on the heel of a joint operation by FBI and the Interpol in arrest of Raymond Abbas known as Hushpuppy a UAE based Nigerian.
“We refuse to bring in the EFCC, because they will scuttle our painstaking efforts,” said one of the investigators.
The arrest last week of Hushpuppy in Dubai by FBI, Dubai Police and Interpol was conducted without the knowledge of Nigerians’ EFCC.
There is desperate attempt by the EFCC to ride on the success vehicle of FBI and Interpol feat.
“They foot drag and are largely not too keen on big success”.
Another gang of Nigerian fraudsters arrested in Turkey on October 26, 2018 in a simultaneous sting operations conducted by Turkish Police Cyber Crimes department led to the arrest of Emmanuel Aneke (alias Otunba Cash) at a luxury hotel.
Similarly a Senior Treasury official said lately Magu has been on Public Relations campaign in the UK and aggressive media foray on his success at the Commission.
Sadly, the entire operational breakthrough recorded in the smashing of wire and computer fraud gangsters were recorded without an iota of input from the EFCC.
The FBI, Interpol and more than a dozen US law enforcement agencies have launched operation wire-wire since 23rd August 2019, when fraudsters tried to steal more than $ 40million dollars in one of the biggest online scam cases in US history.
Prosecutors say, they use online romance scams, schemes targeting elderly people and business emails compromise (BEC). Separately, the FBI also indicted for computer and wire fraud Obinwanne Okeke, the head of Invictus Group.
He was accused of defrauding a subsidiary of Caterpillar Firm the sum of $ 11millon and was arrested in Alexandria, Virginia in the airport as he was preparing to return to Nigeria.
He has already pleaded guilty to two count charge of wire and computer fraud, before a senior United States District Judge Rebecca Smith
Okeke has explained how through an internet scams, legitimate companies are compromised to facilitate an illegal transfer of funds to both domestic and offshore accounts.
” If the plea guilty is accepted the Judge will adjudicate guilt and will determine and impose a sentence”.
Magistrate Judge Robert Krask on 18th June, 2020 at Norfolk Court room 1 certified the guilty plea to clear the path for Mr Okeke’s sentencing on 22nd October 2020.
The charges of wire and computer fraud carry a maximum penalty of 10 and 20 years jail respectively.
“This case is part of our ongoing efforts to protect Americans and to bring to justice those who prey upon hard earned American citizen savings and businesses,” US Attorney Nick Hanna said in a statement.
On September 10, 2019 two hundred and eighty one people were arrested in a coordinated International Enforcement Operation targeting hundreds of individuals and business email compromise schemes.
Other sore point is the belief among development partners of Mr Magu’s insincerity.
“Look at the case of Mr Bayo Ojo, the former Attorney General and Minister of Justice of Nigeria, who received and admitted collecting over $ 10 million in his role in the Malabu oil deal.
Ojo had an agreement with Etete to be paid $50million dollars for “legal services” which includes finding buyers for the infamous OPL 245.
Ojo told Italian Court he only received $50 million dollars for the services he allegedly provided between 2009 and 2011.
Some Italian and US investigators believes Magu in particular has surreptitiously not been helpful and likely not provide the necessary cooperation for prosecution of many cases critical to the success of the fight against graft and cyber crimes in the country.
They have made their position known to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crimes (UNDOC) among other law enforcement and donor agencies.
It shows clearly institutional incapacity and as one EU cyber official bluntly put it”
He may be part of the problem that is why some of us perhaps rate him lowly.”
MORE DAMNING FACTS . . .
More damning facts are emerging about the frosty relationships between International Development Partners and Economic Financial Crimes Commission of Nigeria (EFCC).
US Justice Department and EU officials are hesitant and some were of the view that EFCC under it’s Chairman, Ibrahim Magu has become a haven for racketeering, extortion and protections of cyber crime suspects and politically exposed persons.
“The FBI is working everyday to disrupt and dismantle the criminal enterprises that target our businesses and our citizens – cooperation is the backbone to effective law enforcement,” said FBI director Christopher Wary.
Since the Internet Crimes Complaints Centre (IC3) began keeping track of BEC and its variants, Email Account Compromise EAC there has been a loss of over 3.7 billion dollars reported to IC3.
Another US senior Internal Revenue Service Officials, Don Fort said “It’s very difficult to sustain collaborative efforts without integrity.”
According to Robert J. Murphy, the special agent in charge of US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), “Allen Onyeama’s status as a wealthy business turned out to be a fraud.”
When Onyeama, CEO of Air Peace came under the radar of FBI, EFCC operatives tipped him.
“He laundered money through his NGOs running into hundreds of dollars via his Delaware offshore companies’ accounts.
According to Justice Department charges, Onyeama was accused of laundering more $20million dollars.
This case is prime example of IRS-CI seeks to partner and leverage its expertise in an effort to thwart those seeking to exploit our nation’s financial system, said Thomas J. Halloman, IRS criminal Investigation Special Agents in charge of Atlanta Field Office.
“Another case was that of Ismaila Mustapha, who was arrested by EFCC by the 18th of October, 2019 at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja.
It was one of the cases that broke the camels back between Magu and International partners.
“The arrest, investigation and prosecutions, were sloppy, it’s designed to fail.
“When we arrested Okeke, he was grandstanding, but after exhaustive investigation, we got him. Now he has entered guilty plea . . . . .”
“EFCC can achieve such successes, but certainly not under Magu.
“We will continue to work with our international, federal and state partners to pursue all those responsible for perpetrating this fraud, preying on innocent victims and attempting to cheat the United States out of millions of dollars,” the official concluded.
Mcgregor is an expert in global security and intelligence.