By Okenyi Kenechi

Look at this scenario: “68 million dollars recovered from the embattled former acting chairman of EFCC” – Daily Sun

“389 houses linked to Magu confiscated by the FG” – Thisday

“Magu had 23 different accounts in 6 banks, billions found” – Daily Trust

“Panel unearths shady deals by erstwhile EFCC acting chair” – Ajispeaks. com

“Security agents lay ambush for Magu over whereabouts of recovered funds” – Premium Times.

Well, if you are a regular reader of Nigerian news, you must have encountered one of these headlines as regards to the actions of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, since Ibrahim Magu took over as acting chairman. As Magu tried people, mainly on the pages of newspapers, with the commission giving its numerous press releases more attention than conducting actual investigation into financial crimes, Nigerians began seeing the joke in the man that would navigate the agency to its ruin. What he did not understand, however, was that each time he rushed to the press to announce another haphazard investigation and arrest, the people whose faces were published on its website weren’t the ones standing trial but Magu and his EFCC.

But still, Magu should not be wished away. The recent revelations by the presidential panel led by former president of the Appeal Court which is investigating Magu’s activities is indicative of a commission run without due process and adequate supervision; a commission hijacked for the political machination of a few, so expect heads to roll. Whoever told Magu that he would be locked up before Diezani Allison-Madueke, the former EFCC boss would have placed the person’s mouth under arrest.

If you read the sworn affidavit by an FBI special agent which detailed the activities of extradited Dubai-based fraud suspect, Ramon Olorunwa Abbas, aka, Hushpuppy, you will cringe at the shallowness with which the EFCC pursued the same goal. But hey, Magu is reflection of the man who appointed him, and if he was wise enough, he should have prepared for this day. I mean, government in Nigeria is very crude and unrefined and has been evident in the mountain of scandals and controversies that have trailed all Magu’s predecessors.

Fighting corruption in Nigeria is a deadly game, especially when fought without due process. From Ribadu to Waziri to Lamorde and to Magu, it has been murder, death, kill. Ribadu had to be sacked from the police before the expiration of his career. It is a dog eat dog situation, yet, the embattled former EFCC chair performed his duties like he had conquered everyone, and everything and as if Nigeria had no laws, no matter how inefficient they were.

But Magu had a strong hand beating the drums of war for him and he was dancing to the beat he would have envisioned could lead to his death. It was Nigerian pop singer, Harrysong that sang in a line in his highly contagious single, ‘Reggae Blues’ that ‘even your boo get a boo’. It could also be said that in the presidency, ‘even the cabal get a cabal’ and the cabal within a cabal is cleaning house to remove some unwanted guests.

In Nigeria, government is run like the business of drug cartels where the lifeline of an appointee depends solely on the well-being of a boss. Now, drug cartel bosses have a lot of influences, control over business routes and say who lives or who dies. And when I say bosses, I don’t refer to the present day erratic Mexican drug lords with their tactless ways of doing things but the Italian bosses, those whose cool-headed demeanor were captured in the 1970s epic trilogy ‘The Godfather’. They can block moves from being made on an arrogant family member or on other families that bleed their businesses not because it was not necessary but because it would be more detrimental to the issue at hand. However, when the boss becomes incapacitated, there is always a group of ruthless second in commands that do not care for processes, they splash the landscape with the blood of their neighbours. They can fire rounds of bullets in crowded markets, churches, and hospitals. They also care less about who gets hurt. And as the struggle for 2023 gets messier, this group is fighting with iron claws.

When the Attorney-General of the federation, Abubakar Malami, in a June 19th memo to President Buhari listed 22 weighty allegations against Magu which include accusations of diversion of recovered loot from politicians and other public officers, it was obvious that Magu’s time as acting chairman of the EFCC was up and no one would save him. Malami had alleged accounting gaps or discrepancies of figures concerning recovered assets, claiming that Magu was not transparent enough in the management of the assets. The minister also accused Magu of disclosing a total naira recovery of N504 billion but lodged N543 billion in the Recovery Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).

People who reacted to the memo claimed the ex-EFCC boss should be commended for submitting more than he declared but are oblivious of the fact that what he did showed him as someone who lacked basic accounting and accountability skills. Magu may have intentionally done that to show that he was upright but that sent a different signal. More so, the quest to have him removed did not start today but for his boss who is presently incapacitated.

Since the death of Abba Kyari, the former chief of staff to Buhari from coronavirus, Magu had been laid back in his crude political gimmicks at the EFCC. Kyari, Magu’s boss, ensured that he served on in acting capacity despite being rejected by the 8th  senate twice who relied on a damning report by the State Security Service, SSS, a.k.a DSS.

DSS had in its 14 paragraphs letter submitted to the Senate through the Services’ letter No. SV.114/ 2 on October 3, 2016, exposed Magu as a corrupt agent whose professional and private dealings were in direct contrast to the anti-corruption mission driving the Buhari administration. According to the report, in December 2010, the Police Service Commission found Magu guilty of “Action prejudicial to state security, withholding of EFCC files, sabotage, unauthorized removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a Police officer,” and awarded him severe reprimand as punishment.

The report also disclosed that Magu at the time was occupying a residence rented for N40m, at N20m per annum, adding that the said accommodation was not paid for from the Commission’s finances but by one Umar Mohammed, a retired Nigerian Air Force officer, who has since been arrested by the Commission for alleged corrupt practices. It was further disclosed that the EFCC boss has maintained a high-profile lifestyle and on many occasions lived extravagantly against the directive given to public servants. “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,” the report read in part.

In its ultimate recommendation, the report chided the person of Magu and submitted that the nominee lacks the integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency. “In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration,” the report read.

The senate under the leadership of Bukola Saraki had in December 2016, following the incriminating report submitted by the DSS, rejected Magu’s nomination for the first time. But in January 2018, he was re-nominated by Buhari (Kyari) for confirmation but in March, he was again rejected a second time by the upper legislative chamber at a press briefing in the National Assembly by Sabi Abdullahi, Senate spokesperson, after a two-hour closed-door meeting. Abdullahi cited an unfavorable security report as the reason for Magu’s rejection. But despite the indicting report against Magu and the Senate’s rejection of his appointment, the presidency (Kyari) retained him as acting EFCC chairman.

Vice President Osinbajo had while being represented by Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, at the commissioning of the Kaduna zonal office of the EFCC in July 2017, said that he and President Buhari had confidence in Magu, adding that he would remain the chairman of the anti-graft agency. “We have every confidence in Magu to fight corruption to a standstill. He will remain the EFCC chairman as long as I remain the Acting President and as well as Muhammadu Buhari remains the President. “It is our belief that Magu will continue to remain a nightmare for corrupt people for years to come,” he said.

The struggle to keep Magu, by all means, was the first indication of a big fight between members of the Aso Rock cabal. This was evident in a clash between officials of the Commission and the DSS on 10th November 2017 in Abuja. The anti-graft agency had stormed the residences of Ayo Oke, sacked director-general of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA), and Ita Ekpeyong, an immediate past director-general of the DSS, in a bid to arrest both men. But the operatives guiding the two top security officials resisted the move, resulting in a heated argument.

The EFCC had invited Oke for questioning in connection with the $43 million found in an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos. Oke’s wife, who has also been summoned, was identified as the owner of the apartment. EFCC officials and mobile policemen numbering over 50 reportedly arrived outside Ita’s home around 11 AM with an arrest warrant. Attempting to make their way into the property located at 46 Mamman Nasir Street, Asokoro, heavily armed DSS agents, some in masks, reportedly barred them from gaining access, citing “orders from above.” It was evident from the scenario that two bosses were issuing orders in the presidency, thereby exposing the inabilities of the president to galvanize and properly manage the affairs of the country. But now that Magu’s boss is dead, he will be thrown in the dirt, ruffled and humiliated.

Remember, this is not a fight for the betterment and advancement of the country and democracy. No, it is a fight of the bosses for their own personal gains while pretending to be doing all of us a favour.

(c) Okenyi Kenechi 2020