The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, was at a gathering to strategise on the re-election campaign of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The event, which took place on Tuesday at Nicon Luxury Hotel in Abuja, was exclusively billed as a consultative forum for politicians of the ruling All Progressives Congress(APC) and was put together by the National Committee of Buhari Support Groups, a political action committee loyal to the President.
Magu was sighted at the event wearing his signature black suit, seating amidst APC heavyweights like Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who represented an out-of-town Buhari, and Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the party.
Instructively, Magu was in Lagos hours apart, defending himself and the EFCC as apolitical.
It came three weeks after service chiefs came under public ridicule after being sighted at the formal launch of Buhari’s 2019 campaign at Transport Hilton, Abuja.
The presidency later explained away the awkward affair, saying the military chiefs showed up because they thought the event was to showcase the president’s security achievements — and they hastily departed the venue after realising it was political.
It also came as the police were jailing Deji Adeyanju, one of Nigeria’s most active political activists on social media, for accusing security and law enforcement chiefs of being increasingly and overtly partisan.
He was leading a protest against what he described as partisan conduct of security chiefs ahead of 2019 elections when he was arrested with two others on November 28.
Boma Williams and Daniel Abobama, the two activists arrested with him, have since been released, but Adeyanju has remained at a federal prison in Keffi, after being arraigned on duplicated charges of defamation brought by the police and the Nigerian Army.
It was not immediately clear what Mr Magu, as the head of an agency that should be above partisan pandering, was doing at the event. The EFCC chief did not return calls and text messages seeking clarification from Premium Times, Monday afternoon.
A spokesperson for the anti-graft agency strongly denied that Magu was present at the meeting, saying it was a political meeting that had nothing to do with the anti-graft chief.
“He left for Lagos around 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday after going to Nicon Luxury to see a relative who was ill,” EFCC spokesperson Tony Orilade stated through telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.
“The only thing he went to Nicon Luxury for was to see his relative, and he immediately left for Lagos where he met with some newspaper editors.”
The EFCC and other security and law enforcement agencies, although under absolute control and supervision of the president, are expected to function as an independent institution and their heads expected to abstain from situations that could portray them as partisan before Nigerians.