Magu travails: End of anti-corruption fight in Nigeria
By Oludare Mayowa
No matter what the conclusion or the verdict of the presidential panel currently investigating the allegations against Ibrahim Magu, the elsewhere acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), Nigeria sure has seen the end of the anti-corruption fight by the present administration.
I painfully reached this conclusion after examining the tragic-comedy ending of all the past personalities that have had the ‘misfortune’ of leading the commission, right from the pioneer chairman, Nuru Ribadu to the immediate past chief.
The manner of their exit has clearly shown that the forces of corruption in the country will always prevail over whatever efforts made to curb the menace of people who are hell-bent on converting the commonwealth to their personal use.
Ribadu until he was humiliated out of office was seen by many as a diligent officer committed to the work of riding the country of the menace of corruption.
The only public outcry against his style of fighting corruption was that the anti-graft battle was selective and discriminating. But none of those who called him out on the shortcomings ever accused him of cooking up evidence against those prosecuted under his watch.
None also were able to exonerate accuse him of wrongdoing concerning those cases prosecuted and for which the many of the culprits eventually jailed.
The case against him then was that he left some friends of the president who appointed him accused of corrupt practice and chose to prosecute only those opposing the government.
A case in point was the trial of the ex-governor of Delta State, James Ibori, who used his influence with the then president Umaru Musa Yar’adua to hood Ribadu out of office. In spite of the noise and denial by the ex-governor of the allegations against him, the long hands of the law eventually caught up with him and he was sentenced to jail in the far away London, in the United Kingdom for the same crime.
At the end of the day, the corrupt among us won the battle and the world acclaimed anti-graft czars was humiliated out of the office while those who stole billions of naira from the nation’s treasury are left bestriding the corridor of power and are adorned in garland.
The fate that befell Ribadu also saw Ibrahim Larmode, Mrs Farida Wasiri and now Magu out of office; the forces of darkness in Nigeria have always been having the upper hands while the economy and the people are the worst for it.
Again, I will make reference to a Facebook post by a respected former editor of the defunct National Concord Newspaper, Nsikak Essien on the present travail of Magu.
“If Magu is confirmed by this panel as unclean to lead an anti-graft campaign then the President has lost his name and capacity as competent manager,” Essien wrote on his social media platform.
Essien hinged his conclusion on the fact that twice both the DSS and the office of the attorney general and minister of justice withheld their support for Magu to be confirmed as the substantive chairman of EFCC by the Senate.
He averred that President “Buhari should have invited his advisers to seek more explanation for their stand. The President never did. He decided to put his name and integrity around Magu.”
However, we never know what transpired at the corridor of power and we were not told if the president actually followed up with the DSS and the AGF on their reports against Magu or not.
Could what is happening today be as a result of the fact that Buhari has finally realised his folly in the face of stronger evidence five years down the line and make move to correct such with the manner the investigations into the allegations against Magu is being conducted?
By putting his reputation and integrity on the line for the retention of Magu as the acting chairman of EFCC for five years in contrast to the DSS and Senate positions, what the president simply told the whole world then was that he can vouch for Magu character and integrity.
The question that should follow then is that what has really changed in the last five years of Magu reign at the anti-graft commission? Does that mean our president failed to properly scrutinize one of his key appointees and the reports of the DSS and the Senate on the character and person of Magu or are there some compelling reasons for the president to retain him as the head of the EFCC then?
The truth is that Magu responses to a query issued to him by the attorney general in December 2016 clearly showed that most of the allegations against him by the DSS were frivolous and has no substance considering the pettiness of the content of the report.
I am tempted to link the present travail of Magu to the recent audit report of the auditor general of the federation on how about N300 billion was stolen from the country’s treasury and the recommendations that the government should further investigate and recover the money from the culprits.
The responsibility to investigate the veracity of the audit reports and the possible prosecutions of culprits rest squarely on the EFCC, which until Tuesday was headed by Magu. It is, therefore, safe to conclude that Magu must have been pushed out of the agency and replaced with someone amenable to the forces of corruption in the country to provide soft landing for those who are yet to be identified in the big scandal.
By the time the forces behind the humiliation of Magu and his predecessors in office are done, no credible person would be willing to be appointed to head the commission again while whoever find his/her way to the top of the commission would have to tread cautiously, learning from the pitfall of their predecessors in office.
The forces of darkness seem to have prevailed and it is time for Nigerians to sing the dirge for the anti-corruption battle in the country.
I will liken the travail of Magu and his predecessors to the Yoruba adage that says; “the death of one’s contemporaries is a signal of what fate awaits those within such categories.
Have we ever witness such voracious battle to remove the head of the Independent Corrupt Practices And Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), a sister anti-corruption agency since its inception? We can easily deduce from all that had happened to the past and present heads of EFCC that the commission is the face of the anti-corruption battle in the country and the successes so far recorded by the agency are the sources of its problems.
The fact that some elements that are either under prosecution or investigations for corruption are rejoicing over the travail of the ex-EFCC boss showed that his trial are probably contrived and instigated to achieve a predetermined purpose.
This is a clear indication that Nigeria indeed is not worth dying for and anyone who attempt to rescue the country from the grip of the forces of corruption will sure be consumed in the process.