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Published On: Sun, Sep 3rd, 2017

Magu: A lone ranger redefining anti corruption war

OBINNA EZUGWU  |

In 2016, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) successfully prosecuted 125 cases, a number of them high profile cases. Between January and August this year, the commission secured 137 convictions.  In 2015, the figure stood at 103 cases. The Acting Chairman of the anti corruption agency, Mr. Ibrahim Magu had only taken office on November 11, 2015. It was thus 2016 that he served one full year, and the result is obvious.
Since assuming office as EFCC helmsman, Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police who had held several leadership positions within and outside of the agency as a pioneer staff, has shown that truly corruption can be fought in Nigeria beyond mere rhetoric and brazen witch-hunt.
He had noted upon his appointment that with corruption, there would never be meaningful development in Nigeria, emphasising that “there is the need to make sure that whatever is gotten for common use did not end up in private pockets.” Even as he assured that he was ready to and willing to “work with everybody without any primordial concerns.”
Magu is living up to his promise. The EFCC under his watch has made tremendous progress in exposing high level corruption cases, and has recovered mouthwatering sums of money from corrupt public office holders. It is for this reason that Business Hallmark deemed him fit for its prestigious Man of the Year Award 2016. The presentation of which will take place in September.
President Muhammadu Buhari came to power on a strong anti corruption posturing, noting on his campaign trail that it was either we kill corruption or corruption kills us. In practical terms, corruption cannot be killed, but it can be reduced to barest minimum, and Magu has proven he is more than capable of doing just that. From the over N15 billion; comprising $38million, £27, 000 and N23million found in an Ikoyi house in April, the N3.4billion allegedly stored away by former NNPC Group Managing Director, Andrew Yakubu to the many revelations of graft involving former Petroleum Minister, Diezani Allison Madueke, Magu had left no one in doubt he means business.
“He fits into Buhari’s plans,” notes Mr Wale Ogunade, Lagos based lawyer and activist “President Buhari’s main campaign promise is to fight corruption, he needed a right hand for the job, he shopped for Ibrahim Magu whose mind fits into his plans.
“Since his appointment Magu has carried out his mandate without fear.  In fact, the hallmark of Magu is his ability to step on big toes and investigate the big and mighty. The scientific manner to which big sleece and dirty deals are revealed has sent fears into the society.”
Many will agree with Ogunade. It is evident that Magu has succeeded in instilling fear on the country’s corrupt elite. Frivolous lifestyles, frequent overseas trips and parties have reduced considerably as Nigerians are, out of fear of Magu, imbibing sense of decency.
Last week Wednesday, Magu disclosed at a press briefing in Abuja that the agency had recovered N409billion between January to date, including $69.5million and £23million. He equally said the EFCC is prosecuting many of its staff involved in bribery and other corrupt practices, as according to him, the commission is currently engaged in internal cleansing. The EFCC has not produced a better chairman.
But it has not been a bed of roses for the “General” as he is fondly called. He said as much during his media briefing last week, noting that he was facing the toughest time at the moment in the fight against corruption.
The story of how the Nigerian Senate, twice, failed to confirm him as substantive EFCC chairman is common place, it is a consequence of power play within the presidency. BusinessHallmark had written a detailed report titled: “Magu: the plot against Mr. Clean” revealing how his uncompromising, resolute stance against graft got him into trouble with certain interest groups, and strangely even within the presidency.
Magu’s prosecution of high profile cases, including those involving Governor Abudal’aziz Abubakar Yari of Zamfara, former governor James Ibori of Delta State,   former Kwara State Governor, now Senate President Bukola Saraki and several retired army officers had allegedly incurred the wrath of certain powerful forces with one governor particularly vowing to do everything to stop him from investigating the spending of the funds released to his state.
It had also been revealed how the cabal within the presidency, allegedly made up of the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) Babachir Lawal; DSS Director, Lawal Daura; Chief of Staff (CoS), Abba Kyari and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami and several others, played a big role in ensuring that the Senate did not confirm him as EFCC chairman for reasons bothering on failure to take orders on whom to investigate or not to investigate.
Confrontations between Magu and Malami, particularly, are now public knowledge. In an interview with Channels last week, Information Minister, Lai Mohammed tried to whittle it down to divergent views, promising that it would be looked into.
“There are divergent views between the AGF and the EFCC chairman and the appropriate authorities will look into it,” he said.
It cannot be as simple as divergent views; it is a heated power play although the EFCC helmsman played it down during the Wednesday briefing, claiming that it was “an imagination of people, which he does not believe in.”
“There is no rift between me and the attorney-general. The AGF is my minister and there is no reason for us to quarrel. I don’t believe that. There is a synergy between us to face the common enemy,” he said.
But backed by both the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo and President Buhari, however, Magu has continued to soldier on against all odds, and the anti corruption posturing of the Buhari administration is living up to expectations. It is one area that the administration has received credit from both supporters and opponents.
Magu’s fate may eventually be determined by the Supreme Court. There is no doubt that the plot against him has forced him to keep low profile, he had suggested as much in interaction with BusinessHallmark. Arguments have continued over whether or not he has the legal right to continue in an acting capacity despite his rejection by the Senate. The matter is expected to proceed to the apex court where it would be decided. In the meantime, he continues to strive to rid the nation of corruption.
The same last week, he disclosed that the commission had started taking steps towards implementing international agreements recently reached with the governments of other countries.
“I met with the delegation of UAE in Vienna; they are willing to work with us. They have records of people with beneficial ownerships. We are going there very soon,” he said.
He is certainly a man determined to do his job, and has proven to be more than capable of delivering.
The 53-year-old Maiduguri born police officer holds a degree in Accounting from the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. He attended numerous courses both locally and internationally, including at the famous FBI Institute, United States and the London Metropolitan Police Institute. He is married and blessed with children.

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