It is no longer news that the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari last week. Magu was quizzed by DSS and grilled by the presidential investigation committee set up to investigate him on alleged financial infractions and Insubordination.
Even before his unceremonious exist, Magu was a proverbial cat with nine lives. During Buhari’s first term, his name was rejected twice by the eighth National Assembly based on the recommendation of former director general of State Security Services (DSS), Lawal Daura, who forwarded damning report against him. Surprisingly, the anti-corruption czar was retained by Buhari until his recent fallout with the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice who wrote a memo to Mr President and recommended that Magu be suspended over some weighty allegations.
There are different conspiracy theories that have emerged since the Magu’s travails began. Some groups are of the opinion that the EFCC boss must have stepped on powerful toes hence his current trouble. However, some others view the development as power struggle in preparation of 2023 elections.
On the other side, for those who have been monitoring the development in the anti-corruption commission since its creation to date, nothing seems new in Magu’s melodrama. During Obasanjo’s era the pioneer chairman of the commission, Nuhu Ribadu, was accused of going after Mr President’s perceived enemies. He was later humiliated and disgraced out of office.
Farida Waziri and Ibrahim Lamurde suffered similar humiliation. The frequent change of guard in the commission which often comes abruptly raises the question of the efficacy of the war against corruption in the country. Magu has been in acting capacity for over five years, which contravenes the Act established the commission.
The EFCC Act recommends four years tenure for the chairman subjected to renewal. This shows that even if he was constitutionally confirmed, Magu must have overstayed by one year.
Since the establishment of EFCC in 2003, it has become a subject of controversy. While the aims and objectives of the commission are to fight corruption, bring the perpetrators to book and restore sanity in the country, these all encompassing goals have been bogged down by series of allegations. The commission suddenly turned out to be a witch-hunt tool in the hands of political elite. Besides, its past chairmen have been accused of financial infractions. The Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in a memo to President Buhari accused the embattled Magu of re-looting recovered funds. Whether the allegation is true or not is left for the presidential committee to clarify in its report to Mr President. With the suspension of Ibrahim Magu and appointment of Umar as the new acting chairman, will the war against corruption take a different turn? The war against corruption in Nigeria is far from success. The reason is not farfetched. Government usually pays lip service to the war. We have witnessed with great disbelief how big men are being granted soft landing and reappointed into government.
In advanced countries, corrupt people are sentenced to death or imprisoned. In China, corrupt government officials are sent to firing squad. Although, Magu had succeeded in arresting and detaining VIPs in correctional centres, even this effort has been viewed as nothing but media trial aimed at attracting global attention. There is the need for government to go beyond rhetoric and overhaul the anti-corruption agencies. Indeed, corruption has eaten deep into the fabrics of our society and retarded the development of our country. This monster should be tackled with all seriousness it deserves!
Ibrahim Mustapha, Pambegua, Kaduna state08169056963