Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), on Thursday told Doris Okuwobi, a judge of a Lagos state high court, that he had never been investigated by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Magu said this while giving evidence in a N100m suit he filed against the publisher of The Sun newspaper and four others over alleged defamation.
Joined in the suit are Fred Itua, editor, Saturday Sun; James Ojo and Lawrence Enyoghasu.
Magu is seeking compensation for “libelous imputations” and statements made against him in a story published in the March 25, 2017 edition of The Saturday Sun entitled: “Magu Under Fresh Probe Over 2 Abuja Mansions”.
At today’s proceedings, Magu, who gave evidence in-chief, told the court that the statement of oath written by him through his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, represented his evidence in the proceedings.
Led in evidence by Shittu, Magu told the court that the publication was done deliberately to damage his reputation.
“The publication said I was under probe but no government agency, has probed or investigated me since I came to the EFCC,” he said.
In his further testimony, he told the court that the publication was completely false, adding that “I cannot buy a house in Maitama, even if I have the money because houses there are so expensive.
“I live a modest life. My wife is a civil servant. We have only one house in Karu site, Abuja; and when I retire, I will go back there. The onus is on the defendants to produce the owners of the properties. The publication has done a lot of damage to my reputation and that of my lineage.”
When Magu’s lawyer sought to tender a letter of complaint written on behalf of his client to the publishers of the newspaper, counsel to the defendants, Charles Enweluata, objected to its admissibility on the grounds that it did not carry the legal practitioner’s seal.
He, however, said the “irregularity was curable.”
In his response, Shittu said: “It does not derogate the admissibility of the letter since the witness has identified and confirmed it.
“It is written on my letter head. The contents are relevant to the proceedings and the author of the letter has also confirmed it. He, therefore, urged the court to discountenance the objection by the defence counsel and admit the document in evidence.
In her ruling, the judge ordered the claimant’s counsel to get the seal. “It will be admissible upon the fixing of the seal to the letter”, she ruled.
When the seal was eventually produced, the court admitted the document in evidence.
Giving further evidence, Magu told the court that the second story by the newspaper entitled” Magu: The Untold Story”, was not intended to correct the damage created by the first report done on him.
“They went to my town and interviewed several people. They wanted to get more things to damage my reputation. But they were disappointed,” he said.
Under cross-examination by counsel to the defendants, Charles Enweluata, Magu admitted that his wife, Fatima, was not a party in the suit but that she was allegedly linked to the properties mentioned.
When asked if he read in the story that he was being investigated by the DSS, he said “Yes, I read the story.
“But there was no name of any agency investigating my wife or me. The paper did not mention DSS.”
Also, when the defence counsel put it to the claimant that the story carried the name of the Department of State Security as the investigating body, Magu said: “The paper did not mention DSS.
“I do not agree that the DSS investigated me or my wife in any manner.”
Consequently, the matter was adjourned till February 28, 2019 for further hearing.