Exclusive: By Adenike Lucas
On Monday, Transparency International UK, TI UK published a press statement denying that it had endorsed the rejected Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Mustafa Magu.
TI-UK published the press statement following a deliberate twist of information by Wilson Uwujaren, the head of Media and Publicity at the anti-graft agency
Mr Uwujaren claimed in a statement titled – Magu To Speak At Transparency International Conference March 21, that Mr Magu was invited to speak at an international conference in recognition of the role he had played in the recovery of stolen funds.
The Senate had rejected Mr Magu’s nomination as chairman of the anti-graft agency based on an intelligence report written by the Director-General of State Security and Mr Magu’s failure to defend himself from the allegations during his screening.
But the press statement issued by Mr Uwujaren on March 17, gave an impression that TI had endorsed Mr Magu’s work despite his obvious failures at the Senate confirmation, this month.
Our own investigation showed that Mr Magu who had not been invited to the main London Anti-Corruption Summit but a side event, did not get “an endorsement by TI-UK,” as implied by Mr Uwujaren.
This week, a judge also had to reprimand Mr Uwujaren who issued a false press statement claiming that a defendant, Nicholas Ashinze had been indicted by the court for diverting and misappropriating the sum of N36 billion.
Counsel to Mr Ashinze, Ernest Nwoye, drew the attention of Justice Gabriel Kolawole to the false press statement issued by Mr Uwujaren to newspapers. Mr Nwoye, therefore asked the court to establish bias and misrepresentation of the court proceeding of March 7, 2017 by the anti-graft agency.
Justice Kolawole granted his prayers and ordered that the EFCC led by Mr Magu must desist from misleading the public. He directed the EFCC to retract the statement released by Mr Uwujaren between now and April 13, 2017.
Justice Kolawole of the Federal High Court, Abuja stated that “If you (Magu’s EFCC) want to try the defendant in the media, you have to limit yourself to the media. You have to stop misleading the public in the fact of this trial.
“Let me say it for the sake of emphasis that EFCC must stop the use of journalists to distort proceedings in my court. You cannot be engaging in two trial: one in the court and one in the media at the same time.
He said: “The press statement by one Wilson Uwujaren who claimed to be from EFCC is scandalous and prejudice to fair trial of the defendant in this matter.”
DENISAURUS News has reported in the past how Mr Magu’s EFCC was playing to the media and hindering the war against corruption.
“In the press release, TI-UK said “in light of reports in Nigerian press, TI-UK would like to clarify the following points:
“The event is being hosted by Transparency International UK, Global Witness and The Corner House.
“This event does not constitute an official follow-up to the London Anti-Corruption Summit, hosted by the UK Government in May 2016.
“The purpose of this event is to contribute to the discussion about the effectiveness of the UK-Nigerian asset recovery process, and more generally the UK’s asset recovery regime.
“All invited guests speak on behalf of either themselves or the organisation they represent – their participation does not represent an endorsement by TI-UK.”