After his alleged arrest and subsequent detention by the Directorate of State Security, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, a Commissioner of Police and until yesterday, the acting Chairman of the nation’s prime anti-corruption agency has been suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari in a move described by sources as necessary to forestall any move to undermine ongoing investigations described as “weighty” by sources close to the investigation.
Magu’s travails dates back to 2016 when the senate declined to confirm his appointment, citing a DSS report which was damnatory in complexion. Anyone who read that report would have been startled at the content of that report. It is however more startling that Magu who was denied Senate confirmation on the strength of that report remained in charge of the EFCC, more than four years after, albeit, in acting capacity.
For the benefit of those who may not have read the report when it was originally published, an abridged version of the report is reproduced to guide our understook of the depth of dent on the integrity of the man who by his position as the nation’s anti-graft war;
“Magu is currently occupying a residence rented for N40m at N20m per annum. This accommodation was not paid [for] from the commission’s finances, but by one Umar Mohammed, air commodore retired, a questionable businessman who has subsequently been arrested by the secret service. For the furnishing of the residence, Magu enlisted the Federal Capital Development Authority to award a contract to Africa Energy, a company owned by the same Mohammed, to furnish the residence at the cost of N43m.
“Investigations show that the acting EFCC chairman regularly embarked on official and private trips through a private jet owned by Mohammed. In one of such trips, Magu flew to Maiduguri alongside Mohammed with a bank MD who was being investigated by the EFCC over complicity in funds allegedly stolen by the immediate past petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Furthermore, the EFCC boss has so far maintained a high-profile lifestyle. This is exemplified by his preference for first-class air travels. On 24 June, 2016, he flew Emirate airlines first-class to Saudi Arabia to perform lesser hajj at the cost of N2.9m. This is in spite of Mr President’s directive to all public servants to fly economy class. Magu has fostered a beneficial relationship with Mohammed who by his confession approaches clients for possible exploitation, favours and associated returns.”
A leaked memo by the Attorney-general of the Federation to President Muhammadu Buhari which among other things advised the sack of the EFCC boss, also listed about 22 fresh allegations against the anti-corruption chief. These allegations and the 2016 report by the country’s secret police may have formed the basis for the ongoing investigation against Magu, but there are more mortal sins which the panel’s attention needs to be called to; that of the political colouration of most of the investigations carried out by the erstwhile EFCC boss.
The EFCC has always been accused of serving as a tool for political witch-hunt against political opponents, but in Magu, the agency was not only used to fight political opponents of the ruling Party, but also to blackmail leaders of the ruling Party. It is alleged that Magu was neither friend nor enemy to anyone, but would always go wherever his interests are most served.
“Because of President Buhari’s unquenchable passion to rid Nigeria of corruption by punishing those involved in corruption, no matter how highly placed, Magu may have expropriated the opportunity to fight dirty even with those assumed to be close to the President in order to prove the point that the fight against corruption is not selective. According to a senior official of the EFCC who does not want his name mentioned;
“CP Ibrahim Mustapha Magu is a very smart operative, but his bane is greed and an untamed hunger for power. He knows that going after leaders of the ruling Party would convey some sense of transparency and fairness in the fight against corruption, hence, he pursued with added fervour any opportunity to embarrass members of the ruling Party.”
Within the top echelon of the Agency, it is well-known that there are politicians who are untouchable, no matter the amount of petition written against them. This could be as a result of the close relationship these politicians have with Magu. Our source claims that this clique of “untouchables” within the political class also provides names of politicians especially within the ruling Party whom they would want investigated, and Magu usually execute such hatchet investigations with dispatch.
“It is well-known that President Buhari hates corruption and the best way to direct his ire against anyone is to accuse the person of corruption. The more scandalous the corruption allegation against the individual, the more disillusioned the President would be from such politician. So, this was used as a tool by the “Untouchables” to scheme out those they see as threats to their relationship with the President.”
For instance, several petitions were written against former Lagos State governor over what some people have described as glaring case of money laundering, when a bullion van was caught on camera transporting money to the politician’s Bourdillon residence in Lagos on the eve of the 2019 elections. Several activists wrote petitions against the Lagos bigman but Magu refused to investigate him.
Also, when videos emerged of Kano State governor pocketing Dollars, which were said to be kickbacks from contractors handling some projects in Kano State, the EFCC boss kept mute over calls by many Nigerians demanding for investigation.
However, former governor of Zamfara State, Abdulazi Yari has been under constant harassments by EFCC operatives following petitions from some quarters. Yari, who was the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum also lost out in a bid to install his successor, over clearly internal Party power play.