By Adetunji Ayobrown
The story, just like tales by the moonlight, seems more like a fable than fact, because to many of us, it is too dramatic for anyone to believe. Imagine this narrative, it was a snake that swallowed some money but the hunter who was called to hunt the snake decided to swallow more money than all the snakes put together. But you have to excuse me if you hear me screaming, deep in my mind Ithought I was only dreaming. It was more as if the story was a fiction, but it wasn’t. Many couldn’t find right words to say what they wanted to, perhaps there are no words.
Work of fiction inspired by truth. The Odysseus travail of Magu, but then he did not act alone, he has his workshop called the ‘Magu Car Wash’, also known as the “Magu boys”; this house of thieves, the social media was a washed with different names.
Magu, the head of the anti corruption agency, EFCC was bundled like a criminal by DSS, to face a panel sent up by President Mohammed Buhari and headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami, probing into some of the allegations levelled against him.
This is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end, but it is perhaps the end of a beginning. Now on suspension, Ibrahim Magu, has become the former acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Magu had been unable to account for the interest generated from N550bn cash recovered from 2015 to 2020. Agency meant to fight corruption, is now neck deep too in various corruption allegations for which he seem indicted. The fall of Magu and his suspension by President Muhammadu Buhari, is a proof that indeed, the end has certainly come for him, especially as EFCC boss.
It all began in June 2020, when the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in a detailed letter to the president gave reasons why his appointment should not be confirmed and that he should be sacked. Malami had 22 detailed alleged cases of malfeasance against Magu, and sought his sack for alleged corruption and insubordination.
A Nigerian police officer, born in 1962, Magu was appointed acting chairman of EFCC by Buhari on 9 November, 2015. He had been acting in that capacity for five years and had not been confirmed due to series of controversies.
The then 8th senate is now more than vindicated for not confirming Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC because of two different reports from the Department of State Services (DSS) over allegations of corruption. But because of the row between the 8th legislators and presidency, some never gave it a thought that a day like this could come.
The then senate president insisted that they the senate was not deliberately refusing to confirm Magu as substantive chairman of the EFCC but merely playing it’s role as provided by law while working on the submission by the DSS. The submission actually bothered on question of his integrity but Mr President never listened despite also the fact that the senate did widespread consultation and got feelers from the people before it took its decision.
Always in controversies, for instance, when Farida Waziri was the commission’s chairman, Magu was alleged to be in the possession of some sensitive documents, which were not supposed to be at his disposal and were supposedly being used in questionable circumstances and these were allegedly discovered in his residence before he was redeployed to the police force after days of detention. He was afterwards suspended from the force.
Also, in December 2010, the Police Service Commission (PSC) found him guilty of action prejudicial to state security. He was accused of among others allegedly withholding EFCC’s files, amounting to sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a police officer, and slammed with severe reprimand. But despite these alleged infractions, Magu was reabsorbed into the anti-graft agency when Ibrahim Lamorde was the EFCC chairman, who also recommended him for the top job. All these allegations were foregrounded in the DSS report of 2016.
The source said though the accommodation was not paid for from the commission’s finances but was done by one Umar Mohammed (Air Commodore/Rtd), an ally of the estranged EFCC boss, who has subsequently been arrested by the service. For the furnishing of the residence, Mohammed enlisted the Federal Capital Development Authority to award a contract to Africa Energy, a company owned by the same Mohammed to lavishly furnish the residence at the cost of N43m,” the report said.
The DSS report also added that “investigations show that the Magu regularly embarks on official and private trips through a private carrier, Easyjet, owned by Mohammed. In one of such trips, Magu flew to Maiduguri, alongside Mohammed and the MD of a bank who was being investigated by the commission over complicity in funds allegedly stolen by the immediate past Petroleum Minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke.
In spite of the president’s directive to all public servants to fly the Economy Class, on 24th June, 2016, he(Magu) flew Emirate Airlines’ First Class to Saudi Arabia to perform the Lesser Hajj at the cost of N2,990,196. Perhaps, there is need then for someone to remind Magu that keeping some of the loots for the obedient servant wasn’t part of his job descriptions. Over 160 houses for himself alone were discovered! oh! Gees…down and out, now though, it seems what the hunted swallowed is more than his oesophagus. According to the panel’s, report he was accused of occupying a residence rented for N40m at N20m per annum.
Internet fraudsters dreaded the name Magu, but now what is the difference, birds of same feather. He may had brought down the high and the mighty, including Senator Orji Kalu, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and prosecuted hundreds of cases in favour of the commission though most of his prosecution were through media propaganda. What a pity. Malami accused Magu disclosing a recovering a total of N504 billion but lodged N543 billion in the Recovery Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). Incidentally, this exceeded the disclosed figures by N39 billion.
Loot recovery is truly different from fighting corruption, this may now have been confirmed. As many of us were initially confused about the duo.
Prosecution or persecutions of others never translate to fighting this putrescence in our system, the latest scenarios might have also shown this in clear light. He was a thorn in the flesh of the president’s political opponents like former senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki and many others. Basis for morality. A man does what he must in spite of personal consequences or obstacles, dangers and even pressures. Corruption is a nasty habit which is easier to get in to than to get out of. All over, it is the same ‘me over others’, but nothing stays hidden for ever is a truism.
With the damning report by the DSS, the then senate never caved in to pressure as it did not confirm Magu till it ended in 2019. His case is just a tip of the iceberg among many more questions asking for answers under government. Many Nigerians that hitherto see Magu’s non-confirmation in different better light see the probe’s report as a revelation of sort and may now see President Buhari decision to probe and suspend Magu as a kind of‘face-saving’ arrangement to give strength to his anti corruption crusade.
We couldn’t stand the thought of knowing the truth. Some questions are certainly begging for answers, because Nigerians have now see reasons to have a rethink. Before now President Buhari was given a 14-day ultimatum find the N300bn missing funds. Obviously, the number of Nigerians who were in his (PMB) support before have reduced more in numbers. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has asked for the prompt investigation of allegations that over N300 billion of public funds is missing, mismanaged, diverted or stolen, as documented in the 2017 audited report by the Auditor General of the Federation (AGF).
Lest we forget, reports disclosed that the sum of N26 billion was mismanaged by the company contracted by the PTF as management and project consultant when Buhari was the chairman. So before Buhari condemn Magu, probe of the Petroleum (Special) Trust Fund (PTF) during his tenure as recommended in the 1999 report still need to be revisited As stated in the report, PTF, under his supervision was grossly mismanaged. Looks like a case of kettle calling pot black. A case of ‘yahoo yahoo’ government. He was appointed the PTF Chairman by the late Military Head of State and dictator, Lt. Gen. Sani Abacha, whom he openly absolved of any corruption allegations despite the infamous ‘Abacha loot’ being repatriated by the Swiss government more on daily basis under this administration and part of which he even claimed to have recovered. Nothing between them two, they are just familiar. Stretch the truth a little, recovering loots is not same as fighting corruption, his $16billion comment, someone is regretting none probe
despite damning reports, ask OBJ. The anti-corruption agents and agencies are not immune against the corruption virus. Making mental notes about our dear country, who knows how many of his likes are still unknown. For sure, Magu did not act alone. Knowing that having something to loose is what makes life worth living. Many of his peers who had been suspended by the President never came back. They were later sacked.
At last, the many forces against him sighed relief that the end has come for the warlord of crime and corruption. Though some, like SERAP and CACOL are calling for fair hearing, it is doubtful if this will be achieved going by the forces against him and what they want to achieve. With the presidency saying nothing, a lot may still remain unresolved. As there were no cheers only silence, full disclosure will have terrible ramifications for this government.
Lapses are clarity, if you break the law, you pay the price, what becomes of him after the investigation is another story for another piece.
By Adetunji Ayobrown