For embattled acting Chairman of the Economic & Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, confirmation has become a ding-dong affair. CHUKS OYEMA-AZIKEN writes that power play among political actors is likely to affect the ongoing war against graft
For chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, the recent visit to the National Assembly was an anti-climax, arising from his failure to scale the high mountain set up for him by the legislators.
Magu had walked into the National Assembly premises with high hopes that the recently found love between President Muhammadu Buhari and the leadership of the Senate will work in his favour and ultimately give him the much sought after confirmation.
Announcing the decision of the Senate after two hours of a closed-door meeting, spokesperson, Senator Sabi Abdullahi cited unfavourable security report for rejection of Magu for the EFCC top job. The senators further went ahead to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to nominate another person for the job.
Sabi said the Senate based its decision on security report available to it. Magu has been in the eyes of the storm of recent, with different allegations being peddled around.
Among which is the report by the Department of State Security, DSS, alleging that Magu’s accommodation in Abuja was paid for by a “corrupt businessman”.
The DSS also said that Magu flew first class to Saudi Arabia for lesser hajj, contrary to federal government’s directive to its officials not to travel in the elite cabin.
Magu was one of the first set of recruits into the EFCC by Ribadu and headed the very sensitive Economic Governance Unit (EGU), where he
was part of the team that investigated many high profile cases of corruption allegation against politicians including James Ibori of Delta State and the current Senate President Bukola Saraki of Kwara State.
There are also unconfirmed reports that Magu is illegally in possession of confidential EFCC document. Sources say this document contains details of cases against some former governors, ministers and some members of the National Assembly.
Fingers now point in the direction of these set of politicians as being behind the rejection of Magu by the senate. There are also reports that Magu, a Kanuri and accountancy graduate of University of Maiduguri is fighting a cabal in the presidency that is hands-in-gloves with the national assembly to frustrate his confirmation. These presidency officials are alleged to have cases of illegal enrichment to contend with. Therefore the coming together of the presidency officials and some legislators may be seen as a fight against a common enemy.
It also comes at a time reports that the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mallam Abubakar Malami has given the embattled acting EFCC boss 48 hours to respond to the allegations leveled against him by the DSS, hit the airwaves.
Magu recently raised alarm of plots by people he termed mischief makers plotting to cause disaffection between him and the Presidency on one hand, and members of staff of the EFCC on the other hand. According to him, “In the last week or so, the social media has been awash with fictitious reports, all painting an uncanny picture of desperation by Magu over his purported non-confirmation as substantive chair of the EFCC, and of stricture within the rank and file of the EFCC workforce leading to resignations”
Reacting to allegations that he is intentionally blackmailing presidency officials to speedy up his confirmation, the statement from the EFCC said: “The EFCC wishes to put it on record that Mr. Magu does not bully anyone, and has not embarked on any mission aimed at blackmailing “some highly placed personalities in the country such as Emirs, President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees” or any other individual, lowly or highly placed in the society”
Just recently, rumour spread that Magu has been removed from office, attracting denial from the government.
Magu’s case is attracting attention with the Convener of Coalition of Democrats for Electoral Reforms (CODER), Chief Ayo Opadokun describing the non-confirmation of the acting EFCC Chairman as vengeful by some of the senators who have criminal cases before the anti-graft agency.
“So, you now expect such a Senate to confirm Magu as the substantive EFCC chair. We should understand in the Nigerian Senate of today, of the 109, there are practical evidences that almost one quarter among they are facing criminal prosecution.
The former governors, who are now so-called senators, many of them are facing criminal prosecution. Some other politically-exposed persons are facing criminal prosecution initiated by the EFCC. They in the National Assembly and their collaborators, who are not there, are combining forces together to deny Magu the chance of being confirmed”
In his words, Magu said, “I am not afraid of anything. I prefer to die fighting corruption if need be,” he declared. He told some lawyers during a recent visit that some unpatriotic Nigerians, including senior lawyers, had “joined forces with fraudsters and those who looted our commonwealth by becoming coaches and technical advisers on how to escape justice”.
In his words, Comrade Okpokwu Ogenyi, National Coordinator, Coalition for Good Governance and Change Initiative hinged the unfolding drama as a deliberate attempt by some corrupt people to get back at the President and rubbish the anti corruption war, “the senate based its report on security report. That he has a relationship with an accused. Even the senate had to go into executive session. That he is mere speculation. We believe there is more to it nomination”
Magu’s case in the senate has drawn the first blood, with Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume losing his position as the Senate leader.
Ndume support for confirmation of Magu drew the wrath of the hawks in the senate, making him a marked man.
After the rejection of anti-corruption czar by the Senate, Ndume came out of the red chambers rubbishing the day’s proceedings. According to him: “In the case of Magu, that was not done. We only had a closed-door session and when we emerged the Senate spokesper¬son claimed that he had been rejected. I had to set the record straight by saying we never re¬jected the nominee. This is be¬cause you don’t accept or reject a nominee at a closed session. Our votes and proceedings are there as evidence of my claims.”
According to the deposed former senate leader Ndume: “I was surprised that such a simple and harmless clarifi¬cation could rattle and anger some of my colleagues,” he said. I thought it wasn’t a big deal to disagree over issues. I didn’t realise that that simple matter would snowball into a plot to remove me.
“The other day, somebody mentioned to me that the Senate President had commissioned Dino Melaye to collect signa¬tures to remove me. I didn’t pay much attention to the informa¬tion because I actually thought it was a joke or a rumour.