Patience: Reps’ panel orders Magu’s arrest for shunning summons

The House of Representatives Committee on Public Petitions on Wednesday ordered an arrest warrant against the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

He is to be brought before the committee on November 7 to answer questions in connection with a petition the wife of former President Goodluck Jonathan, Patience, sent to the House.

Jonathan’s wife had petitioned the House, alleging harassment of her person and firms linked to her associates by the EFCC, the Federal Inland Revenue Service and the National Drugs Law Enforcement Agency.

She also told the House that her personal bank accounts and those of the firms had been frozen on the directive of the EFCC.

However, the panel, which is chaired by a member from Abia State, Mr. Uzoma Nkem-Abonta, said on Wednesday that Magu had shunned “several invitations” to appear in connection with the matter.

The NDLEA and FIRS had been appearing before the panel to respond to the petition.

The matter had earlier been adjourned till Wednesday (yesterday), but again, Magu did not turn up and the EFCC sent no representations to the session.

After a motion on arrest warrant moved by the Chairman, House Committee on Public Accounts, Mr. Kingsley Chinda, the panel passed a resolution for Magu’s arrest.

Ruling, Nkem-Abonta stated, “The absence of the EFCC is making our work difficult. We are not against the EFCC doing its work but they have to comply with the law. With no counter motion, the motion on arrest warrant is hereby sustained.”

However, the committee also ordered all the companies linked to Jonathan’s wife to submit their statements of audited accounts to the FIRS within two weeks.

The panel explained that this was to afford the FIRS the opportunity to assess them for tax payment and ascertain the level of tax compliance since they started operations.

FIRS had in a submission to the committee, stated that the reason it kept watch over the activities of the companies was to verify their tax compliance.

On its part, FIRS was directed to conclude the verification within two weeks from the date of receiving the audited accounts from the companies and produce a report.

The committee had also summoned eight banks over the freezing of the accounts of Patience and her companies by the EFCC.

The banks that appeared before the panel on Wednesday were Fidelity Bank; Ecobank; Union Bank; Skye Bank; Diamond Bank; First Bank; Zenith Bank; and Stanbic Bank.

Some of the banks explained that while it was true that Patience secured court orders unfreezing a number of the accounts, the EFCC also appealed the court decisions.

However, they confirmed that Mrs. Jonathan ‘s accounts which had no “legal encumbrance,” had been released to her.

For instance, Union Bank informed the committee that none of Patience’s accounts was frozen any longer, while Diamond Bank disclosed that she had access to two of her accounts, but two others remained frozen.

Skye Bank disclosed that Patience had actually started making withdrawals from her accounts with the bank.

On its part, Zenith Bank said her accounts with the bank remained frozen on the directive of the EFCC and would require a court decision to free them.

The panel later resolved that the banks and Mrs. Jonathan’s lawyers should hold a reconciliation meeting to determine the accounts that were frozen on court directives and those that had no legal issues.

The committee clarified that it earlier directive to “unfreeze” Patience’s accounts was strictly for those accounts that were not backed by a court order or a written instruction from the EFCC.

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