By Fredrick Nwabufo
‘’It has been long coming. Expect things to be done differently from now on,’’ a source in the thick of things told me regarding the ‘’arrest’’ of Ibrahim Magu, acting EFCC chairman, by security operatives.
Magu’s fall – even though delayed – preceded him. He walked on molten magma. He had chalked up lots of professional liabilities before he became the EFCC czar.
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.
Soon after he became acting EFCC chairman, Magu busied himself with incurring more ‘’karmic debts’’. He was said to have been embroiled in the blackmail of suspects and was frolicking with the ‘’so-called looters’’. He was also alleged to be living outside the remit of his means.
The DSS’ vignette captures it thus: “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.”
By the sheer tonnage of these redoubtable claims, the senate in 2016, declined to confirm the appointment of Magu as EFCC chairman. But despite the senate’s pushback, President Muhammadu Buhari re-nominated him. The reaction to the decision of the senate at the time was that some corrupt elements in the national assembly were trying to derail the anti-corruption efforts of the president.
However, it is obvious now why the president did not seek to have Magu’s appointment confirmed even with the current legislative dispensation, under Ahmad Lawan, which is tied to his apron strings. I think Buhari did not discount the allegations against Magu, but he would not bend to the will of the senate under Bukola Saraki which was at daggers drawn with him.
The death knell finally sounded on Magu when Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), asked the president to sack him over some “weighty” allegations, including the diversion of recovered loot. In addition to allegedly re-looting the recovered loot, Malami accused the acting EFCC chairman of insubordination and misconduct.
Before his ‘’arrest’’ on Monday, the EFCC chief had travelled to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates without the authorisation of Buhari during the COVID-19 lockdown – a contravention of the president’s order on measures instituted to curb the spread of the disease. And when he was questioned, he said he went for an investigation.
It is reassuring that the president has elected to stop dilly-dallying on Magu. He has set up a presidential panel to look into these allegations, and perhaps, to put Magu out of his misery. The panel is currently sitting at the presidential villa where the acting EFCC chairman is present.
Magu is on a date with fate. He hoisted himself with his own petard.
*Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and journalist.