Tuesday, July 7, 2020 12:09 pm
Since its inception in office in 2015, the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration has touted fierce prosecution of the war against graft as one of its major achievements. Indeed, a regular fare in the publications issued by the government on its achievements for every year is the amount of funds, houses and number of persons sent to jail in the course of prosecuting the anti-corruption war.
This is not surprising given the fact that fighting corruption was one of the major promise of Muhammadu Buhari when he first campaigned for the votes of Nigerians in 2015.
The President had also touted his achievements in battling graft when he asked them to return him to office for the second term in 2019.
The face of Buhari’s anti-corruption war was Malam Ibrahim Magu, the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. But Magu now faces now face uncertain future following his unexpected invitation last Monday to testify before a panel looking into allegations levelled against him by Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami (SAN).
Magu was detained overnight at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) where he was taken to at the end of his appearance before the investigative panel which ended its sitting at about 10 pm.
The Panel, headed by Justice Ayo Salami will continue its grilling of the EFCC acting chairman on Tuesday.
There are already “suspicious calls” in the media that Magu, who was hijacked commando style on his way to keep an appointment before he was hauled before the panel by a police team should be asked to step down from office pending the conclusion of the investigation.
The Nation newspaper said Magu is being grilled on 22 allegations levied against him by Malami who had in an earlier memo, advised the President to sack Magu.
Some of the allegations include discrepancies in records of recovered funds, insubordination to the office of the AGF by not seeking his approval on some decisions, lack of respect to court orders, alleged sales of seized assets to cronies, associates and friends and release of information about the ongoing investigations of the anti-graft agency to the media.
The allegations were basically those leveled against Magu by Malami in his memo to the President.
The AGF had asked the President to sack Magu over issues of alleged corruption and insubordination and also shortlisted three candidates for consideration as replacement for the anti-corruption agency’s boss.
Magu had previously denied most of the allegations and his lawyers said on Tuesday that he will put up a robust response before the panel.
But while the sitting of the panel continue the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) has raised alarm that Malami is out to sabotage the anti-corruption war of the Buhari administration.
PACAC in a statement issued on its behalf by Prof Femi Odekunle the invitation of Magu to face the presidential panel as an outcome of power play in the corridors of power in which Malami is the arrow head.
PACAC, a body set up in 2015 with the mandate to advise the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in the prosecution of the war against corruption said Malami appears to be an arrow-head or major agent of a power bloc that is not really interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.
He said this conclusion was reached after he discussed with the Chairman of PACAC and some other members of the body.
He listed the confirmation of Magu and memo by Malami concerning alleged corrupt practices by the acting EFCC chairman along with his own nominations for the replacement as examples of the fact that the AGF has been working against the President’s anti-corruption war.
PACAC also noted that Malami had demanded certain high profile case files from Magu which the latter has been resisting.
The body however warned the President against allowing Magu to be rubbished by Malami because of the achievements he has recorded in the war against corruption.
“The position of PACAC is that while Magu, or any official of whatever status, must be nailed if found to be corrupt, the President must be careful not to shoot its anti-corruption fight /modest achievements in the foot, and not to forget that EFCC under Magu has been the Administration’s anti-corruption poster-face.
“It may not be contestable that Malami has been exploiting his alleged loyalty and closeness to the President for his personal /power bloc agenda.
“For, to the best of PACAC’s knowledge and observations, Malami has not manifested any genuine commitment to the anti-corruption fight. Samplers: The nolle- prosequi entered in a case of corruption against Orubebe in relation to alleged malfeasance while Minister of Niger Delta Ministry; his secret meeting with fugitive Maina in Dubai under whatever guise/ excuse; his involvement in the surreptitious reinjection of the same Maina into the Civil Service; his supervision of Obono-Oblas’ kangaroo Asset Recovery outfit which Obono subsequently ran out of the country when exposed by some ICPC investigation; his non-due attention, by design or default, to the P&ID matter since 2015 until it was blown open by humongous financial damage to the country; etc.
“Notwithstanding the situation at hand, the hope of PACAC is that the President would wake up to the ongoing shenanigans of power players that are working from the inside against his anti-corruption fight.
“We are also counting on the experience and dexterity of the new Chief of Staff, Professor Ibrahim Gambari whose loyalty to the President and good of the country cannot be doubted, and we also hope that the demonstrated integrity of retired Justice Salami would carry the day for thoroughness, fairness and justice in the interest of the anti-corruption fight.