With the suspension of the acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu by President Muhammadu Buhari on Tuesday, the end has certainly come for Magu as EFCC boss.
Magu was bundled like a criminal on Monday by officials of the Department of State Services, DSS, on the order of the presidency. Magu was wanted to face a Presidential Panel probing some allegations against him. The panel is headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami. The panel was set up by the President to probe allegations of corruption against Magu.
Before now, Magu had been flying in the execution of his job as EFCC’s boss. He had brought down the high and the mighty, including Senator Orji Kalu, Diezani Allison-Madueke, and prosecuted over 500 cases in favour of the EFCC. He was a thorn in the flesh of former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki and others. Internet fraudsters cowered before him. His name was synonymous with power and backed by the presidency, he dared anyone.
Born on 5 May, 1962, Magu, a Nigerian police officer 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.
In August 2008, 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. These documents were allegedly discovered at his residence. He was redeployed to the police after days of detention, and was suspended from the force afterwards.
Also, in December 2010, the Police Service Commission (PSC) was said to have found him guilty of action prejudicial to state security – withholding of EFCC files, sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a police officer — and slammed severe reprimand on him as punishment.
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.
According to the DSS report before the 8th National Assembly, Magu was accused of 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/Rtd), a questionable businessman and ally of subject who has subsequently been arrested by this 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 added: “Investigations show that the Acting EFCC Chairman 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.
“Furthermore, the EFCC boss has so far maintained a high profile lifestyle. This is exemplified by his preference for First Class air travels. On 24th June, 2016, he flew Emirate Airlines’ First Class to Saudi Arabia to perform the Lesser Hajj at the cost of N2,990,196. This is in spite of Mr. President’s directive to all public servants to fly Economy Class.
“Investigation also revealed that Magu parades a twin personality. At one level, he is the czar who has no friends, no favourites and is ready to fight corruption to a standstill. However, with a key friend in the person of Umar Mohammed (Air Commodore/Rtd), a controversial businessman, he has betrayed the confidence reposed in him by the present administration. Whereas Magu portrays himself as very secretive, he has fostered a mutually beneficial relationship with Mohammed who, by his confession, approaches ‘clients’ for possible exploitation, favours and associated returns. This was facilitated with official secrets divulged by Magu and from which dealings he is believed to have been drawing considerable benefits.”
With the damning report by the DSS, the Dr. Bukola Saraki-led Senate refused to confirm Magu as substantive EFCC chairman. The then senate never caved in to pressure as it did not confirm Magu till it ended in 2019.
Malami’s damning allegations and Magu’s denouement
Magu’s fall began in June 2020, when the nation’s Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, in a detailed letter to the president gave reasons why the appointment of Magu should not be confirmed and that he should be sacked.
Malami had detailed 22 alleged cases of malfeasance against Magu, and sought his sacking for alleged corruption and insubordination.
The AGF anchored his recommendation on several grounds raging from diversion of recovered loot to insubordination and misconduct by Magu; while including a shortlist of three candidates for consideration to replace the anti-corruption agency’s boss.
The Office of AGF has asked Magu to account for gaps or discrepancies of figures concerning recovered assets, claiming that Magu was not transparent enough in the management of the recovered assets.
Malami accused the EFCC boss of disclosing a total naira recovery 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.
The Presidential Panel
Malami’s grave allegations against Magu led to the setting up of the panel. The Presidential Panel set up by the President and headed by Justice Ayo Salami (Rtd) had been sitting since Monday immediately Magu was arrested by the DSS and taking to the Presidential Villa where the panel is sitting. Magu had not been released since then. He is being grilled on the series of allegation and political watchers are of the view that he may not survive the onslaught as the presidency is directly involved.
Magu’s suspension the end?
Many believed that the suspension of Magu by the President marked the end of his reign as EFCC’s boss. With the way the panel is carrying out its assignment, it is doubtful if Magu will escape “the Sword of Damocles.” 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 are smiling and heaving sigh of relief that the end has come. 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 no one What becomes of Magu after the investigation is another story for another day.