The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission has said it stormed the head office of The SUN newspaper as part of routine efforts to ascertain the state of the assets of the publishing company which is subject of subsisting interim forfeiture order.
The EFCC said this in a statement by its spokesman, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren, on Monday.
The commission, therefore, denied allegations that it stormed the media company because the acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, was fighting the newspaper over a March publication accusing him of corruption.
The anti-graft agency said in the course of its prosecution of The SUN publisher, Orji Uzor Kalu, it had obtained an asset forfeiture order which has since been appealed by the company.
The statement read in part, “Operatives of the EFCC in the early hours of June 12, 2017, visited the head office of the Sun Newspaper in Lagos. The visit which lasted for less an hour was part of routine efforts to ascertain the state of the assets of the publishing company which is subject of subsisting interim forfeiture order.
“Prior to the visit, the commission had written to the management of the company to account for its management of the assets for the period of the subsisting court order.
“The commission still awaits the response of The SUN and will not be distracted by any attempt to whip up sentiments by alluding to an appeal which has been pending for ten years. The commission’s action is without prejudice to any appeal and only meant to verify the integrity of the assets.”
The EFCC denied allegations that it harassed and molested staff of the newspaper.
It further denied reports that some of its operatives accused the newspaper of promoting pro-Biafra and pro-Niger-Delta militants in its publications.
The statement added, “Contrary to claims in a statement released to the media by the management of The SUN, no employee of the media outfit was molested or intimidated for the few minutes that operatives of the commission spent in the premises of the company.
“The claim that ‘EFCC operatives subjected our staff to crude intimidation, psychological and emotional trauma, even as some of the men accused our organisation of publishing pro-Biafra, Boko Haram, and Niger Delta Militant stories,’ is strange and clearly the figment of the imagination of the Sun.”
The commission said Magu was taking legal action against The SUN in his private capacity and he would not abuse his power by using the anti-graft agency to settle personal scores.
“There was no reason to molest anybody as the commission has always related professionally with the publishing outfit. The attempt also to link the visit to the acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu’s, threat to sue the organisation over a libellous publication is also diversionary.
“Magu is pursuing that option in his private capacity and his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, did write The SUN and his letter was widely published in the media on March 31, 2017.”