In Nigeria, corruption has become so deeply rooted in the Nigerian system that the public service has morphed into a complex criminal enterprise. Politicians, their cronies and the in-between characters keep adding strange concepts into corruption lexicon. Various shades and colours of corruption now define the hue of our systems; from top to bottom and from bottom up.

Before the creation of the EFCC in December 2002, corruption had become enshrined in the political system of Nigeria right from the first republic. Graft has continued to sponsor politicians, election victories and violence, denied millions of Nigerians access to even the most basic health and education services, and reinforced police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.

The anti-graft crusade of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, in Nigeria, has not been fought without its many casualties. The first casualty, incidentally, was the pioneer Executive Chairman, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. His problem began when he went after highly powerful individuals; he’d stated that a State governor offered a $15 million and a house abroad bribe to influence a case against him, which Ribadu took and paid into the Central Bank of Nigeria as evidence to use against the governor. From that moment he had everyone launching arrows at him.

In December 2007, his police boss, Mike Okiro, then Inspector General of Police had him removed under the guise of a mandatory one year training course with National Institute of Policy and Strategic Service, NIPSS. We wouldn’t concern ourselves with the pillage of corruption and how unceremoniously Mike Okiro would leave the corruption-infested seat of the IGP in Nigeria. Ribadu went on to pass the training in flying colours but the mischief had been concluded. Ibrahim Lamorde was already Acting Chairman in 2008 and would be replaced later that year by Farida Waziri.

Ribadu had to flee the country in 2009 after surviving two assassination attempts. Corruption won that bout with Ribadu-led EFCC, which arguably has been the most daring and genuine fight against anti-graft. From James Ibori to Peter Odili but corruption always has a way to win, if bribery doesn’t work, intimidation might, and the courts have a way of barring prosecutions too.

The rhetorics have been typical from Ribadu through Waziri, Lamorde and now Magu. Although, the anti-graft fight seem to be getting weaker since Ribadu left the scene, with allegations of lopsided prosecutions that is perceived as persecutions of enemies of the sitting government. The EFCC have been allegedly called, by many activists, an overfed pitbull that’s lost all teeth and can only bark now.

Today the tug of war is turned to face Ibrahim Magu with Abubakar Malami wearing the mask as the poster boy of the “Magu must Go” campaign, which has now succeeded. Magu’s battles started right from his nomination by the president. There seemed to be an unspoken personal vendetta against him by former DG of Department of State Security Service, Lawal Daura and even, by the former Senate president, Dr Bukola Saraki, who ensured he wasn’t confirmed as the Executive Chairman by the Senate. So strong a bad blood that long after the ousting of Daura by Prof Osinbajo while in acting capacity, the DSS has continued to seek the head of the EFCC boss.

Although, for some strange reasons, the President stuck with Magu through all the damning reports against him by the DSS and the insistence of the Senate against him from 2015 till 2019. Unfortunately, the safe bubble provided by the President’s strange allegiance could no longer hold the police officer from Borno from the gravity pull of corruption. What started as an invitation cum arrest, morphed into a suspension and an apparent raiding of his office and home. Whether the corruption charges against Magu hold enough merit and mettle to stick is a subject I will like to leave to the judicial system of time.

However, it is safe to infer that Magu has gone the way of his predecessors and maybe that should tell Muhammed Umar that his appointment shouldn’t be celebrated too soon. After all, the cane that was used to drive away the previous wife hasn’t been thrown away.

Following the narrative from Ribadu through to Magu, does this tell us something about the fight against corruption in Nigeria? From Ribadu to Lamorde, each persecuted out of office with allegations of corruptions yet each of them left and are being celebrated today. But the Attorney Generals that led their prosecution or persecution were all disgraced out of office; Michael Aondoakaa, Muhammed Adoke and now Abubakar Malami, who allegedly gifted his son a multi-billion naira mansion as a wedding gift, whose children with no known source of income drive expensive cars and live in aplomb and affluence. But time again will tell how Malami will end.

May be the Magu’s scenario is a road never traveled before or may be it is the regular path that leads to nowhere, only time will tell. However, it must be established that this treatise doesn’t vindicate Magu or paint him as the victim of the perennial fight between corruption and anti-corruption. This is not a law court that can vindicate or indict anyone and, sincerely, I don’t know if this is simply a case of corruption fighting back or that of that of the security appointed to catch a thief being the thief himself.

However, one thing is certain, the fight against corruption since Ribadu hasn’t been a fair fight; most likely because many of those who on paper stand on the side of the anti-graft fight are the same ones pulling the ropes for corruption to win. It is established that whoever must come to equity must come with clean hands. How clean are the hands of EFCC chairmen from the time of Ribadu? How clean are the state chairmen of the commission? How clean has the fight against corruption been when the EFCC seem to suddenly grow teeth only when it has someone from the current opposition in her jaw?

It is therefore unwise to pick a side in this battle because it is yet unclear who is fighting with the right ropes in his hands and who isn’t. It could be that the saying is true; there is a price for every man, you just need to find out what it is; and Magu has fallen into that ditch. And it also could be that he’s just another unfortunate lone voice drowned by the tempestuous ocean of corruption in Nigeria. Whatever the true story is, I doubt it would end with Magu.