Magu’s many unforgivable ‘sins’

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Jubal Kanayo writes on the many uncovered sins of former EFCC chairman and why he had to go.

Former Acting Chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu, has been brought down and trampled upon by the powers that be and, now, the voices that have been calling for his mortification have had their day in the sun.

But, what did the anti-crime czar do to get himself in scalding water?

First off, since Nigeria failed to get former Minister of Petroleum Diezani Allison repatriated from the United Kingdom, many have been unhappy with Magu for not proffering enough evidence to make that happen by deliberately refusing to cooperate with the law enforcement unit and prosecutors of the other country.

In addition to that, Magu allegedly declared the sum of N539 billion as recovered funds, instead of N504 billion earlier claimed as recovered loot between 2015 and 2020.According to a panel which began the initial investigation, Magu failed to discose what happened to the interest generated by the said amount and the origin of the funds he used to acquire a house in Dubai, UAE for N573m, using one Pastor Omale as a proxy. His failure to disclose these, the panel said, led it to establish that over N550bn was re-looted over the period under review.

The panel uncovered that the former EFCC boss has been using a number of avenues to siphon money out of the commission, one of these conduits being a Kaduna-based bureau de change owner, Ahmed Shanono, who has 158 accounts.

These acts prompted the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami writing to the Presidency over Magu’s responses to queries “ranging from diversion of recovered loot, to insubordination and misconduct”.

In 2008, it was discovered that an Irish firm, Process & Industrial Development Company (P&ID) was exposed for fraudulent dealings in tandem with a former Director, Legal Services, Ministry of Petroleum Resources, Grace Taiga. It took Magu some time to give the green light for investigations to begin, to the chagrin of many.

Magu is alleged to have delayed acting on two vessels seized by the Navy and has been favouring some investigators – non-fondly called ‘Magu Boys’ – who get the juiciest postings and assignments, to the detriment of others.

 One of Magu’s undoing was his disrespect for a court order to unfreeze N7billion judgment in favour of a former executive director of a bank.

These reports gave birth to the Justice Ayo Salami panel, as prescribed by the Presidency.

Quick News Africa understands that the evidence was overwhelming and shaming that President Muhammadu Buhari – who had shielded him from torrent of investigations before now – was moved to make an example of him, to show that “we are not selective in our fight against corruption”.

A statement from the president’s Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mallam Garba Shehu, recently said: “A series of documented allegations were made against the Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Following a preliminary review of the allegations levelled against the Ag. Chairman and several other members of his staff, there were grounds for a detailed investigation to be conducted.

“Hence, an investigative panel was constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.

“As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the Chief Executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the Chief Executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.

“The EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.

“Therefore, the suspension of Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.

“The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.

“Meanwhile, Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.

“We must realize that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.

“What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realise that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of accountability and the recognition of the Rule of Law.

“Those who see Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat.

“There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system.

“Under this president and government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.

“Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.

“No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.”

So, it possible that the current administration suspended – not sacked – Magu because of its image and not because of the principle of right or wrong.

On Sunday, during the daily Sunrise Show of Channels’ Television, Shehu assured Nigerians to “prepare yourselves for surprises and wait for the outcome of the investigation on Magu.

“The Justice Ayo Salami-led panel has been updating the president on some of their findings, and Nigerians will be amazed as to the content of the panel’s report.”

 He also disclosed that if wrongdoings are detected, Magu would be made to face the consequences.

Shehu then told Nigerians to ignore reports “casting aspersions on the efforts of the Salami-led panel”.

Magu was arrested more than two weeks ago and was released after 10 days in detention. However, he still awaits the panel’s decision on his return or outright boot-out from the corridors of the fight against corruption.

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