Embattled crime fighter, Magu walks the tightrope
By Oludare Mayowa
In the word of a former editor of the defunct Concord Newspaper, Nsikak Essien, “EFCC boss, it’s time to go” and I agreed with him on his submission. The travail of Ibrahim Magu, who has acted as the chairman of the country’s anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC) began shortly after he was appointed by President Mohammadu Buhari to head the commission five years ago.
His nomination was sent to the Senate for confirmation as prescribed by the law, but alas! the Senate rejected his appointment based on a report by the Department of State Service (DSS) indicting Magu of some wrongdoing. However, in spite of the hullabaloo generated by the screening and rejection of Magu by the Senate, the president insisted on retaining him on the post even after his nomination was rejected twice by the parliament.
Magu, since his appointment has shown courage and tenacity in pursuing the fight against corruption despite the public criticism and allegation of selective prosecutions of the war against corruption by the government.
The social and traditional media was abuzz on Monday when it was alleged that Magu was arrested for questioning by the DSS, the allegation which though was denied by the secret police but was cumulated in his appearance before a presidential panel of investigations. The manner of his arrest and appearance before the panel of investigations inside Aso Rock smacks of high disregard for the office he occupies as well as his fundamental human right as an individual.
According to reports, the attorney general and minister of justice Abubakar Malami was said to have written a petition against the EFCC boss accusing him of wrongdoing and advised that he should be relieved of his appointment. The justice minister was said to have accused Magu of insubordination and discrepancies in the figures of funds recovered by the EFCC, disposing of assets, especially buildings seized from corrupt politicians and others, without approval, or knowledge of the AGF’s office, which is the supervisory ministry of the EFCC.
Merely scrutinising the allegations by the country’s chief law officer from a layman perspective will show that those allegations are not founded on concrete evidence.
For the attorney general to have arrived at such grievous allegations, the proper thing is to order a forensic audit or conduct proper accounting investigations, and this, we were not told was done at any point in time by either the president or the office of the attorney general.
Observers of the commission said all the allegations by Malami are not new but a repetition of similar allegations that have been thrown at Magu all along by various interests seeking to remove him and which he had dismissed as an attempt to call a dog a bad name to hang it. Would he survive this onslaught by the power that be, would those who want him out at all cost give up the fight even if the panel currently investigating all allegations against him exonerates him and will the damage so far done to his person be easily washed away while allowing him to continue at his duty post?
The current against Magu is huge and not relenting irrespective of the allegations against him, it was obvious right from day one he was appointed to head the commission and from his antecedent, that his days at the commission are numbered. “Magu will still have a life outside EFCC. His enemies have got him. What’s left of his name and integrity,?” Essien wrote on his post on his Facebook page.
“Magu has apparently overstayed his welcome in the corridors of power. Today (Monday) appears a climax.” Essien position summed it all up, indeed Magu “enemies have got him” and without let, he should let go of the job and save his life and whatever is left of his image and integrity. The top job at the EFCC has become like Hellfire, consuming all those who have dared to occupy it at an alarming rate and in a manner that it is tempting to say serving this country with all integrity and sincerity does not pay.
The founding chairman of the commission, Nuru Ribadu almost lost his life on the job before he was eventually ejected by the power that be, the same fate befell his successors in office, they were all disgraced from office one way or the other.
The fate of the past chairmen of the commission speaks to the huge risk of fighting corruption in the country despite the mouthing support by many Nigerians for the fight against graft; it seems that the country does not have regard for those who tend to help rid the country of corrupt practice.
It is like we are all culpable and more than anything, no one is interested in the fight against corruption, not even the president who is said to be reputed for his stance against corruption. The act of corruption has always been a part of us and it will be very difficult for anyone who lay his life on the line to fight the scourge to survive the onslaught from those who have something to hide and will surely fight back with all their might to prevent being exposed or made accountable for their sins.
In the word of Professor Femi Odekunle, a member of the presidential advisory committee against corruption (PACAC), “The alleged originating Malami memo, up to the current “arrest “ seems an outcome of power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power in which Malami appears to be an arrow-head or major agent of a power bloc that is not interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.”
Mayowa, a respected media practitioner is also the publisher of globalfinancialdigest.com