By Dr Ugoji Egbujo
This government has had a few problems. But it has created many for itself. A government battling a ravaging pandemic should not sleepwalk. How can a government that was elected to stamp out corruption not know that if it had to clean up its corruption artillery it would have to do it discretely, behind the curtains, smartly.
Nothing hinders the fight against crime and corruption more than bringing out hardworking vigilantes, at the slightest of suspicions, so that sin-soaked cynical folks and inveterate thieves can throw jibes and pour scorn on them, and sing songs that dismiss sainthood and justify the notion that everybody is a thief.
The government can deceive itself claiming it was fighting corruption by treating Magu like a petty thief caught in Oshodi. If that is such an effective method then let the government democratize it. Let it go round. Let the government allow the police to arrest all its ministers on the road, in the market, in the offices, and detain them. After all, they all have real and imagined petitions written against them.
Then let the police run to the houses of the ministers, frighten their wives and children, turn their bedrooms upside down, and tell the world about it. While that is going on, let the government allow government-owned media houses to rehash the dirty details in those petitions, whether true or false and let them be free to tell lies about how the ministers might have all stolen money and bought houses abroad. Then after doing that, let the government come on television and say it did everything in the interest of the ministers and to prove that no one is above scrutiny.
The EFFC chairman was arrested on the streets? Banditry is spreading but why would we allow the spirit of banditry to become part of us. With one phone call from the Villa, Magu would have reported there in minutes. But someone chose kabukabu tactics.
Perhaps more like a child blaring the horn of a sitting car. It’s nonsensical to adults but it will thrill a child. At the highest levels, people do things to impress their cheerleaders and girlfriends. Otherwise, what was the drama of that arrest about?
The truth is that in making that choice no one bothered about the risk that operation posed. Well, childish people pay no attention to risk, except risk to their immediate happiness. Magu, by the nature of his job, was heavily protected. There could easily have been a shoot out, and poor innocent policemen would have killed themselves. Where on earth is a man protected by federal agents arrested as if he were a drug lord?
I dey shame.
The Federal Government said it did it to prove a point. The point that no one was beyond scrutiny. Do we bare our anuses to the whole world while cleaning ourselves? Does the federal government think the heads of the FBI and CIA are not watched? Are they watched by other agencies running in, once in a while, to ransack the bedrooms of a serving FBI director?
The presidency said the investigation was done in the interest of Magu. Okay. What is Magu’s interest? That if his enemies within and without the government write petitions against him he can be dragged naked through the streets and spat upon in the name of investigations? Whom in the government does this government owe such appeasement?
Where on earth does a president set up a panel to investigate a government official or agency and the panel leaks information to the press on a daily basis at night? If the information that was being disseminated by NTA and NAN was fake news, why didn’t either the panel or the presidency react and stem it?
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The NTA brazenly told the country that Magu and a certain pastor had re-looted recovered proceeds of crime. Where did the NTA get that information? Did the presidency not listen to the NTA? Did the presidency not worry about the integrity of the investigations if the panel fed the public details it hadn’t officially communicated to the president in a report? If it wasn’t the panel why was the presidency not bothered about mass dissemination of falsehood that preempted the panel’s findings and prejudiced its final report?
Shame dey catch me.
Three days after the named pastor’s lawyers wrote the News Agency of Nigeria, the pastor has not been arrested. Neither for his suspected criminal involvement in emptying government coffers as alleged nor for his temerity. The temerity of a shady character, an impostor, to pour opprobrium on a national news service performing its constitutional duties.
Neither the NAN which has been labelled a chimney for fake news nor the NTA has bothered to respond. If they are now comfortable being seen as disreputable then we must ask, when did the NTA and NAN become tabloid outfits? And what happened to balls of their supervising minister who, indeed, should speak for the government?
If a named pastor has become a chief looter as the NTA called him why has he not been arrested? Is he being allowed to eat up and hide away all he looted or to hide them well?
At every stage, the path taken has been utterly disgraceful.
The media announced with glee that the NFIU conducted investigations and discovered that Magu siphoned money abroad. We all know the NFIU does not conduct the sort of operations described in those reports. They were crafted to fool the public. And to sweeten the tale story of a break-in into the NFIU was added. Okay, let’s say a burglary at NFIU happened. It’s possible.
So the NFIU lost computers as reported? Perhaps some boneheaded dealers in secondhand computers chose to take a stupid risk. But that won’t be what it is supposed to be – sweetener – if it is not associated with Magu. But it is that association that makes it laughable. I asked a former senior staff of NFIU if NFIU could lose anything if their computers were stolen. He said the NFIU had no secrets in their computers. Nothing immediately irreplaceable.
Moments before Magu was released on bail, the media was fed with a story that the police authorities had beefed up security around Magu to forestall his being freighted out of detention by bad boys. The sort of thing we watch in movies. At every stage, Magu was made to look like a drug lord, a mafia boss.
We were even told he slept in a mosque. And a dark motive was waved into that too. They said he had imported some marabouts who would sneak into the mosque to conjure the spirits to effect his release. Possibly the aim of that chapter of the script was to have him permanently in chains. They fed the media a lot.
While all these were happening the opposition party who should be awake was somewhere calling for Magu to be guillotined career-wise. The same PDP who at some point during their reign had Magu as a key member of the EFCC. They are now spamming twitter space with tweets painting him as someone born with congenital kleptomania.
When last did you see a government official come out of ten-day detention, on suspicions of corruption, shoulders held high, not hiding away timidly, but confronting his accusers and bragging about his cleanliness?
Shame wan kill me.