By Oguntola Niyi
In the previous piece I wrote, I explained in details how EFCC was created, the power play that has happened in the past, and how EFCC Bosses have ended their tenure of office abruptly and in a similar style…(Read Here)
But I will like to, first of all, say that, while all I have written previously are FACTS, well-researched facts, confirmed from multiple sources and which has not or can hardly be faulted, all I want to write here may not be ‘facts’, they are mostly personal opinions, based completely, although reasonably, on information in the public so far on the issue and until the investigation is completed, one may not know the real and true pictures of what’s ongoing. The facts may even not be out until the administration of President Buhari finishes and the actors leave their respective offices.
For me, I still insist, up till this moment that MAGU IS NOT A THIEF. Most of the allegations leveled against Magu are either inconsistent, too bogus to be true, disjointed, unbelievable, fallacious or already confirmed to be untrue and disclaimed. Most of these allegations have no credible source too. Yes, it has been seen in the media, but you most often find many not mentioning the sources of their claims or quoting a fellow media platform as the source. I’ll go into all of that, but before that, let’s look at the circumstances surrounding Magu’s arrest.
Magu was arrested on the 6th of June and released on the 15th, he was in detention for 10-day, apart from being the EFCC Chairman, Magu is also a serving Commissioner of Police, the 4th highest ranked position out of 16 in the Nigeria Police Force, but up till this moment, no one knows who arrested Magu and detained him for 10 days.
Immediately he was picked up on June 6, the DSS was reported to be his arrester, DSS immediately denied arresting him. The Presidential investigative panel investigating him was accused of being behind the arrest, the Panel also denied it, saying he was only ‘invited’, the accusation moved to the Police and 2 days ago, the Police as well denied being behind the arrest, but the Police mentioned Presidency as being behind it. The natural question then is, who’s the ‘Presidency’ in this context? Buhari? Osinbajo? Gambari? Garba Shehu or Femi Adesina? Does the ‘Presidency’ has a detention facility? Who gave the ‘Presidential’ order of arrest? Who was it given to?
Another strange thing to note in this ‘roforofo’ is the obscure manner in which Magu was suspended. Magu was suspended on Tuesday, 7th of July. On Friday, 10th of July, President Buhari, according to the AGF, announced the ‘approval’ of Magu’s suspension. Certainly, Buhari cannot ‘approve’ a suspension he himself made, the Panel investigating him said they were not behind the suspension and no Minister has the right to suspend the head of any agency under him/her. The question now would be, who suspended Magu? Well, the question doesn’t need an answer since the suspension is backed by the President as claimed by the AGF.
Now, to the investigation, there are two separate Committees investigation Magu; one is the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets(PCARA), I personally do not know the members of this Committee and I doubt most Nigerians know as well, but that’s even unimportant, the other Committee is the Presidential investigative panel led by Justice Ayo Salami(Former President of the Court of Appeal). While the former has been in existence before Magu ordeal started, the latter was set-up primarily to investigate Magu.
So far, none of the two panels have come public to say anything about the investigation, but there has been some information in the public quoting either of the panel. Magu, as at Wednesday 13th of June, said he has not been served any allegation paper, he kept demanding for a copy of the allegations against him so that he can respond to all of it, when his demand was not honoured, Magu responded to almost all allegations flying on media, even without being asked to do so. Now, let’s examine some of these allegations from the commonsensical point of view. I’ll be examining only those that deals with ‘stealing and looting’ and not any other form of corruption:
1. He was alleged to have stolen N550bn. ‘Punch’ Newspaper quoted the amount to be N500bn, many other news platforms quoted it as N550bn, that’s part of the disjointed and inconsistencies in the allegation leveled against Magu. I know that we have some Nigerians who are cruel and can actually steal that huge amount if given the chance, but it honestly defy commonsense that an EFCC Chairman, who is appointed to catch thieves will now steal that unimaginable amount, even if he wants to steal. How much is the total money Magu has recovered for Nigeria to steal as much as 500/550bn from?
Anyway, almost all the media platforms where Magu was alleged to have stolen N550/500bn later reported that Magu didn’t steal the money, but only failed to account for the interest accrued on the recovered N500/550bn, an allegation that Magu has denied. Magu said the money recovered were domiciled in the Treasury Single Account (TSA) and TSA doesn’t generate interest. The Accountant General of the Federation equally corroborated what Magu said, that monies recovered are not put in an interest generating account but in the TSA. That for me solves the allegation and there has not being anything said about it since then.
2. He was alleged to have cornered 332(some quoted it as 388) recovered properties for himself, EFCC officials and his friends. While this is possible, it should be noted that this allegations was not linked to any credible source, the source mentioned by all the media platforms that carried that allegations as a news was another media platform, ‘News Agency of Nigeria'(NAN), if you have seen this on any newspaper or online media platform, go back and check again, almost all of them quoted ‘NAN’, no other credible source than that. ‘NAN’ itself quoted PCARA as their source of information. The questions begging for answers remains – Where are the properties located? What sort of properties are they? who are the friends of Magu and EFCC officials that got it? These questions so far are questions no one can answer. Methinks if you uncovered someone cornered as much as 332 properties, there should be video or pictorial evidences of maybe one or two of such properties, their location and other sort of information for verification. Nigeria journalists ought to also have done investigative journalism to, at least unravel some of these 332 properties. Except for the fact that it was a news, no further information was given on the 332 properties to make it believable. But the investigation has not been concluded, so maybe tomorrow, we’ll get more details on the unexisting cornered properties.
3. Magu was alleged to have given Vice-President Osinbajo N4bn. Like every other one, this allegations has no basis too. The source of it was not even from any media platform, it was from one Jackson Ude on twitter, a known PDP apologist, who is known for such defamatory allegations. Both Magu and Osinbajo have denied it, though quite natural. Osibanjo even wrote the IGP on it, I think he’s taking a step further. From the source, the allegations can be taken with a pinch of salt
4. Magu was also accused of paying 28m to Barr Femi Falana to prosecute a case for him, Magu has denied the story, but if that was not enough, Falana has equally denied it. Falana wrote a pre-litigation letter to ‘The Nation’ newspaper, demanding for an apology within 48-hour or suing them to court. ‘The Nation’ admitted the story was false, apologized almost immediately, like every other allegations with no basis, ‘The Nation’ quoted ‘NAN’ as their source of information. This should give the people the idea of the credibility level of ‘NAN’ on the entire Magu issue.
5. Magu was also accused of buying a property worth N573 in Dubai. The General Overseer of Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministries, Prophet Emmanuel Omale was fingered as the one laundering money for Magu and the one who acquired the property on his behalf. Like every other allegations, this one also originated from ‘NAN’ and also like every other allegations, there’s no credible information about the alleged property, no video or pictorial evidences, no proof of ownership, no address of where the ‘uncovered property’ is located in Dubai, absolute no information about it was given. Both Prophet Omale and Magu have denied the story, prophet Omale has written a pre-litigation letter to ‘NAN’, demanding for an apology or meeting in court, I do not think anyone guilty of an allegation will do that.
I have just addressed few, but most prevalent in the media, of the series of allegations leveled against Magu, there are other allegations, taking the same form; no credible source, no empirical evidence(s), inconsistent. The panel handling his investigation is yet to make anything public, or submit a report to the President, two weeks after the investigation started. The panel started investigating him on the Monday, 6th of July, Magu appeared before the panel between that Monday, 6th of July and Thursday, 10th of July (4 days), since then until Magu was released from detention on Wednesday, 15th of July, Magu was not called to appear before the panel even though he’s always at the venue from morning till evening.
It was also alleged by Segun Adeniyi of ‘Thisday’ that Magu illegally searched the homes of General Abubakar Abdulsalam and General T.Y Danjuma, both of them swiftly denied it like many other allegations, Segun Adeniyi, with shame, apologised to both Generals and Magu for the gaffe(are you counting the number of people that have denied many allegations leveled against Magu and those who apologised? What do you make of it?)
Throughout this investigation period, Magu consistently, almost everyday, talk about his innocence courageously, sternly, stubbornly and unperturbedly, that’s unusually of anyone guilty of such weight allegations. It was even reported that a member of the panel told him he was rude for his insistence on being innocent, Magu even told the panel and the entire world: “Go to the length and breadth of the earth, you’ll find NOTHING because I stole NOTHING”
For me as a person, stubbornness and rudeness (when necessary) are qualities that should be looked for in a would be EFCC Chairman, you cannot catch thieves by singing them lullabies, you have to step on their toes.
Now, let’s look at another thing from commonsensically point of view. Anybody appointed as EFCC Chairman will naturally be careful, I mean extra careful, even if you appoint a known thief as EFCC Chairman, there’s a very high chance he will change his ways when he becomes EFCC Chairman. The position comes with integrity responsibility, you will, as EFCC Chairman, naturally won’t want to be found in anything related to corruption. An EFCC Chairman is also naturally expected to know every forms of stealing, if you catch thieves everyday for many years, you would have been accustomed to the various ways of stealing, to the extent that even if you want to steal, it will be in such a way that it will be extremely difficult to find. So, I believe if Magu at all wants to steal, he can’t be so daft to steal with the usual and known style of stealing. He will be clever and smart with it.
Let me add that, while the last two AGFs we had in Nigeria; Aondoakaa and Adoke, who fought EFCC Bosses while in office are in court today over corruption allegations, all former EFCC Bosses are going about their normal businesses. After Buhari’s tenure finishes, this history will repeat itself.
Now again, in my own considered opinion, Magu will not come back to that seat as he is not likely to come off that investigation clean. Like I have said, if he’s not guilty of anything, he will be guilty of insurbodination and disrespect for reasons mentioned earlier. But beyond that, the chances of Magu coming out clean from the Justice Ayo Salami(Former President of the Court of Appeal) led investigative panel is slim. While Justice Salami is widely seen as an integrity personified man who will never compromise, the panel he heads has 7 members. The AGF has two representatives; one for the Ministry of Justice and the other for the office of the AGF, the DSS who once wrote a letter indicting Magu, has a representative, that’s 4-3, the Police, whose IGP once reportedly accused Magu of not attending police meeting has a representative, that makes it 5-2. I do not know how, or expect these panel members that were nominated by people who have interest in Magu’s case to be impartial and unbiased in their judgment.
But one thing I am certain about is, he will not be linked with any form of stealing, looting, diversion of funds, mismanagement of funds, cornering of recovered properties etc.
The danger of the whole show is, if Magu is not found guilty and is booted out in this manner for stepping on toes of corrupt people, and with the way many former Bosses of EFCC have been treated, we will get to the stage where whoever is coming in as EFCC Chairman will lose and/or lack the zeal, patriotism and the will to fight corruption, such Chairman will only be going after petty thieves and that will be the end of EFCC and maybe the fight against Corruption.
We already have a practical example of that in ICPC, ICPC was created in year 2000 for almost the same reason EFCC was created for 3 years after. Today, no one knows what goes on there and no one is interested in it, some do not even know it exists, an average Nigerian doesn’t know the full meaning of ICPC. The Chairmen of ICPC come in quietly, do ‘paddy paddy’, earn money and leave peacefully. What you hear about ICPC are just few, once in a while noise of investigation, no real prosecution, no conviction. How can an anti-corruption agency be that quite? If well meaning Nigerians do not rise up to give Magu the necessary support (at least until he’s found guilty or indicted), EFCC will go the way of ICPC.
All of these are why I stand solidly with Magu. The last reason I stand with him is his achievements. Magu has achieved more than all other past EFCC Bosses combined. Magu has recovered looted funds for Nigeria than any other past EFCC helmsman. Magu is prosecuting more people than any past EFCC administrator, Magu has convicted more people than all former EFCC Bosses combined. Magu convicted in 2018 alone, far more people than what was convicted in 3 years between 2010-2012. Between Jan and May this year Magu has convicted over 300 people. Between 2015 when Magu took over and January 2020, Magu convicted 1,245 people, at least twice more than the number of conviction past EFCC Bosses secured combined. Under Magu, 3 former Governors were jailed, all of them members of the ruling APC. ‘Yahoo Boys’ are happy with the ordeal Magu is facing, simply because EFCC has been a thorn in their flesh. This steller performance is why Buhari is widely regarded as an anti-corruption champion, it’s the reason why ECOWAS appointed Buhari as West Africa anti-corruption champion.
Intentionally, I did not talk about many of the allegations, with evidences, leveled against Malami himself. Anyone who has taken his time to study the allegations leveled against both men, the evidences attached to those allegations, and the responses of both men to those allegations will easily identify who the thief is. But Malami’s issue is a discussion for another day.
In all of these, one cannot completely exonerate Buhari. Although, Buhari has not been linked with any of the allegations, but I think the cases between Malami and Magu is being badly managed and poorly coordinated, to the discredit of Buhari. But Buhari’s style has always been to watch and be quite for a long time, no matter how grave the issue is, only to react and act at critical stages and his actions have also been spot on, problem-solving and commendable. I am hopeful that in the end, Buhari’s action will be similar on this, even though unlikely.
Conclusively, as long as EFCC remains under the control of the Ministry of Justice/AGF and EFCC Bosses are drawn from the Police, with the Bosses expected to report and submit themselves to the orders and directives of the AGF and IGP, it would never function independently and it’s effectiveness will be corroded. Like INEC, the EFCC should be made to function independently, without reporting to anybody except maybe the President.
Let me say here that, although what you just read are well researched info, with evidences attached, they are based on the current information available to me. When superior information or better arguments convince me to change my position, I’ll do so without hesitation and egotism
Ogbeni Oguntola ‘Niyi Skrtel