Journalism of Courage

Corruption: It’s all over for Magu as Justice Salami Probe Panel recommends his sack

…I will implement report, no one is too big to tackle, says Pres. Buhari


…Magu’s albatrosses include non-prosecution of ex-Gov. Godswill Akpabio now Minister of Niger Delta Affairs and others, graft, insubordination

Mixed reactions have trailed the submission of report by the Justice Ayo Salami-led Probe Panel investigating the suspended EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, for corruption, to President Muhammadu Buhari on Friday in Abuja.

The panel, while submitting the report on conclusion of its five-month long assignment, had recommended Magu’s sack, Persecondnews learnt.

On Friday, uncertainty had pervaded the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as the officials were seen discussing the cocktail of the weighty allegations and the panel’s recommendation.

Salami, the chairman of the panel and retired President of the Court of Appeal, got the ears and attention of Buhari as he commented “no one is too big to tackle” after receiving the report.

The president gave a cast iron assurance that he would implement the recommendations.

Persecondnews had reported that weighty allegations of corruption and insubordination were pinned on Magu by the supervising minister, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN).

The minister had written a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari describing Magu as unsuitable to head the EFCC, and substantiated his claim with many instances of lack of accountability in the commission.

On the varied comments on Magu’s tenure, some called for his head while others praised him to the high heavens, acknowledging the convictions and recoveries made under him as “historic’’.

“No EFCC chairman has made the number of convictions and recoveries he’s made. You have to give that to him. He achieved that by creating five additional zonal offices to expand operations,’’ a senior government official said.

To Magu’s credit, some said within his first three years in office (2015-2018), a total of 703 convictions were made across the country by the EFCC. Cash recoveries also hit N871 billion within the same period while seized properties include 407 mansions.

But he is said to have failed in the general administration of the EFCC where he allegedly displayed a “glaring lack of capacity.”

Personnel of the commission who had worked with him scored him low, saying he has no regard for due process and ran his office like a sole administrator.

A senior official of the commission said: “He bastardized the procedure of investigation and created his own task force which bypassed directors and reported straight to him.

“Staff morale was very low under Magu as only he was in charge of recruitment, procurement, investigations and prosecutions.’’

To Sola Badamosi, an Abuja-based accountant, Magu abused his office by acting as a secret agent of the Presidency.

“The EFCC under him harassed people, mostly innocent and government critics, while denying them an opportunity for trial. They used force and, in most cases, went against the same law they claim to be preserving.

“A friend of mine was picked up in a club by EFCC agents, who claimed he was a fraudster. He was detained for a long time, and was forced to pay huge sums of money before being released. This is the reality in Nigeria today,’’ he said.

Corroborating Badamosi’s position, a Lagos-based lawyer, Mr Inibehe Effiong, said: “Magu performed abysmally. I cannot score him credit for how he led the EFCC. When Magu came in, there was one perception that he was going to fight corruption; that he may be interested in fighting corruption.

“But along the line he totally lost focus. And as far as I’m concerned, I do not have any shred of pity for him because some of these things were self-inflicted.

“He could have avoided the situation he has found himself today if he had discharged the functions of his office without political or personal bias. What I saw was an EFCC that was a lame-duck agency.

Magu didn’t do well at all. Look at the case of Akwa Ibom where my former governor, Godswill Akpabio, was allegedly being investigated by the EFCC. Nothing, absolutely nothing, came out of that. Then several other cases that we can find, which shows that that chairman had clearly been compromised. For me, I do not think he deserves to return to that office.”

The CEO of Passionview Solutions Ltd, Guzau, Zamfara State, Mr Peter Samuel Anyebe, also said: “As for me, I can categorically say that the guy is corrupt, there is no way he will handle such a position and not be corrupt.

“Why the probe was so serious is that there was somebody in EFCC that actually gave full detail about Magu’s antecedents. And when a man is accused of an offense, the presidency would back down or deny him and that is what Buhari and Malami are trying to do.’’

But a commendation came from Prof. Peter Njiforti, a financial analyst and professor of Economics at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria.

He said: “I see him as a very brave person to have confronted the number of people that he fought in the course of fighting corruption, because in the history of this country, I don’t think any person has been able to do what he did.

“Even though some people have been saying that what he did was selective, but I think he did his best, so it is just that if you are fighting corruption and you are not careful, corruption will fight back and eventually, what followed after was corruption fighting back.

“I want to think that the panel will give an independent ruling as possible and come out with findings that will be very credible. If the findings indict the former EFCC Chairman, then he should be prosecuted, but if they vindicate him, then he should be released, compensated; his image should be redeemed and reinstalled as the EFCC chairman.”

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