BY SIMON REEF MUSA
The activities of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, have come under floodlights, with the prospects of ending his headship of the anti-graft in disrepute assuming a frightening possibility. Now an accused before a presidential panel, Magu, the man who has failed to secure Senate confirmation to assume the position of a substantive head of the corruption-fighting agency, is now enmeshed in a fierce battle to save not only his integrity, but also his career.
Magu’s faultfinders are not street urchins or disgruntled wailers; they are powerful people who should know what is happening in the corridors of power. When last month the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami, wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari that the thief-catcher had helped himself to some looted funds recovered by the agency he heads, not a few people close to the workings of the EFCC dismissed the claims with a wave of the hand.
Unknown to the cheerers of Magu, the allegations against their man were not like that of the Senate. Away from the prying eyes of the public, a presidential panel, headed by Justice Ayo Salami, was secretly constituted. This week, the panel invited the anti-graft czar to explain his roles on the matter. The circumstance under which the commission’s boss was invited to appear before the panel blew open and revealed to the public that the Nigeria’s chief catcher of thieves is also on trial over the same offence he was appointed to stop.
Not wanting to be caught in the crossfire of public odium, the Department of State Services (DSS) initially debunked media reports of Magu’s arrest. However, less than 24 hours after the rebuttal by the secret police, the Presidency issued a statement announcing the indefinite suspension of Magu as head of the EFCC, pending the final outcome of the panel’s report.
While enthusiasts of the suspended EFCC boss were still hopeful that their idol would come out and tell the world what was really happening, their hopes were suspended as he had to spend the night at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) Headquarters office in Area 10, Garki.
As it is right now, his indicters, who would never want to see his shadows darken the EFCC headquarters, have got him where they wanted.
The chief allegation against the police officer is the stealing of recovered looted funds. Those opposed to the headship of EFCC by Magu are asking for his exit as the nation’s arrowhead in the fight against corruption. If the past is anything to go by, it is most unlikely that a public official facing panel over corruption allegations will be returned to that same position.
To weaken the wave of complaints against the embattled anti-graft czar, the pro-Magu camp is hinging his present travails on the current fight for the soul of the All Progressives Congress (APC) that saw to the exit of Mr Adams Oshiomhole as National Chairman of the ruling party. Even before the appointment of Magu as EFCC boss about five years ago, underhand dealings involving previous heads of the agency had always made the rounds, though not proven. Survival of previous heads of the agency had always been predicted on turning their eyes away from matters that are of interest to the Presidency. For defending the interests of the Presidency, previous Chairmen of the EFCC had always enjoyed protection from floods of criticisms that are always facilitated and promoted by supporters of corrupt persons.
It is on this light that the prosecution of Magu is an obvious signal that his chief supporters in the Presidency have either been weakened or lost out completely in the power play. In Nigeria of today, you are prosecuted, not because you have sinned, but because those who put you there are either not there or their influence has been diminished.
In Nigeria, corruption is the foundation of our very existence. More than financial corruption, our society has suffered debilitating ailments that have enthroned injustices and all forms of discriminatory practices in order to ensure dominance by the owners of Nigeria and those in charge of the system. Appointment into top public positions is seen as an opportunity to steal and make your friends and families so rich that they can’t be poor like Dangote. A system that breeds a leadership that is anchored in making public office a platform for self-enrichment can never resolve societal contradictions.
For now, Magu remains innocent until declared guilty by a competent court. What I found most appalling and wicked is the resort to media trial by the anti-graft agency. Apart from giving an advantage to some bad elements in the commission to blackmail and extort, the personalities of those accused by the commission suffer abhorrence due to negative reports by the media.
Understanding and appreciating the dilemma of Magu could as well expose the underbelly of corruption that has made Nigeria to deify money and relegate good governance and patriotism to the backwaters. This type of system encourages personal development above that of the nation, including promoting the glory of men as fertilizers for unjust dominance by criminal elements in order to control various levers of power.
Using the staircase of unexplainable humongous wealth that is obtained on the altar of all forms of crime and criminalities, we turn our citizens into dogs chasing for financial prosperity.
A wealthy nation that does not cater for the wellbeing of its citizens promotes the ascendency of its few rich members who create sharp division and guarantee domination of the weak by the strong. Most times, our big men and women resort to walking up the staircase of ethnicity and religion in order to keep us perpetually disunited and rob us of our common patrimony.
The wickedness of our political system finds relevance and is more prone to encouraging men and women to climb the ladder of illicit wealth than encouraging citizens to build stronger institutions for good governance. This has proved not only tragic but also an albatross in realising our fondest dream to build our country. As long as the Nigerian society sees the country as a farm house for leaders bereft of vision to loot, millions of anti-graft czars in the next millions of years can’t help change the tide.
While we watch the trial of Magu that may provide illumination in understanding the dialectics of corruption in Nigeria, we need not to weep for him.
Our focus should be on how we as citizens have allowed our dearly beloved Nigeria to be turned into a strange darkness of inertia working against the building of a great nation.