Dr Ugoji Egbujo
This isn’t a defense for Magu. Time would tell what his sins, if any, are. But it must be said that the EFCC he inherited was a flabby , smoke-puffing, behemoth, guzzling fuel and hopes of a nation, damaging the environment, and fostering corruption.
Anyone who knew the EFCC from inception would attest that Magu brought back something to the institution. After Ribadu’s departure , the EFFC lost its bearings, and floundered.
Magu came like a technician, tightened screws and fastened slack chains.
The EFCC needs to be improved upon and Magu was steering it in the right direction. It’s legal department is porous. It needs to be rejigged, rejuvenated with young external lawyers and weaved into the operations department.
This is not a defense for Magu. We will wait for the panel to finish its investigations. But if Buahri has been named the champion of anti corruption in West Africa it is not because of the Police or the Customs. It is not because of the Immigrations or the Army. It is because of the Magu led EFCC.
Before Magu came, Hillary Clinton and the United States Govt had lampooned the EFFC and its ethical degeneration.
It is possible Magu committed grave infractions. But let it be said that not even the great Ribadu was spotless.
There were serious allegations against him. Obasanjo stood by him. When he left office, his traducers chased him into exile. Obasanjo knew the allegations but he perhaps found Ribadu human, not spotless but clean enough and passionate enough; clean enough and most importantly astute enough to run a thief-catching institution.
I know that power corrupts. And it will be difficult to find a saintly policeman in Nigeria. But there are some fairly good ones. Igbos say if you poke well enough you will find shit in the anus. So it’s not entirely surprising. But we cant condone conspicuous corruption at the top of that agency.
Now this. I have seen many folks jubilating. Chief Ozekhome was beating his chest, calling himself a seer. He claimed he knew Magu was a thief many years ago. This country. The same who handled many cases of persons whom Magu thought were corrupt. Magu is on the ropes and the senior advocate is jubilating. What a country ! And to paint the tragedy in troubling colors, he mentioned the name of Gov Fayose. Fayose is supposed to be his example of a victim of Magu’s sinfulness.
Magu’s fall, if he falls, ought to be a moment of sober reflection for the entire country. But there was a Senior Advocate of Nigeria congratulating himself , and also claiming that he won all his cases against Magu. It isn’t childishness. It has to be something more ridiculous.
I expected a comical piece from Dino Melaye. And he didn’t disappoint. That is the quality of senators we have in the country. How could I have forgotten. The senate once shut down and trooped to the CCT where the then senate president was facing a code of conduct trial.
It is only in Nigeria that the head of an anti corruption agency is accused of corruption and persons who have associated with pending or previous cases of financial crimes, either as counsels or accused persons, throw parties.
The PDP might be correct in asking that Magu be brought down, and prosecuted swiftly. That is the same party that always cursed and threw tantrums whenever any of its members was invited for a corruption investigation. If Magu were a chieftain of the PDP , the PDP would have penned a letter to the United Nations, crying louder than Biblical Jeremiah, about the victimization of the opposition by the Federal Government.
But it’s not the PDP alone. Magu was rejected from the beginning by many of those who thought he would be uncontrollable. Twice the DSS had the temerity to defy the president who nominated Magu for senate confirmation. After the president set up a panel to assess the allegations against him and cleared him , the DSS under the former director General didn’t let go.
Magu perhaps isn’t anywhere near a saint. But if he were a pliable man, genuflecting for the Attorney General and nursing the egos of other powerful politicians, past and present , he might not be in trouble today. After all the EFCC before him recovered so much and declared almost nothing. He has recovered more assets during his tenure than the EFCC did in all its years before him.
It is however commendable that the President set up a panel to listen to him and assess the evidence against him.
That aside, it has to be admitted that of all the security agencies in the country , the EFCC has performed ,visibly ,best.
Sometimes we forget that the ICPC exists. The ICPC perhaps has more resources than the EFCC. At other times we forget that the police can prosecute most of the cases that the EFCC takes on and prosecutes. The question must then be asked, how many big ticket corruption cases have the police prosecuted conclusively in the last five years. This is not to say that the police are idle. They might even be efficient. But why is it that neither the public nor the government have the sort of confidence they have in the EFCC in the police.
Then there is the Attorney General. It is possible he has a good case against Magu. But the EFCC as an agency has performed better than the Attorney General’s office. If the Attorney General’s office spent half the energy it has dissipated in its wrangling with the EFFC, over the last five years, on diligent promotion and protection of the law it would have cleaned up the judiciary that every citizen believes is almost rotten. Perhaps the Attorney General loves the EFCC a whole lot. But what about the judiciary reforms he promised? What about the unbundling of the supreme court?
The Attorney General is the chief law officer of the federation. With the mushrooming of banditry across the nation what kind of law is he then officiating. How can anyone promote and maintain law in a country where state governors are giddily negotiating sovereignty with common bandits.
Okay, it is not his fault? The elections of 2019 have come and gone. Thousands of high level electoral offenses were committed everywhere. How many Big men electoral offenders have the office of the Attorney General prosecuted?
It is good to cull bad eggs once identified. It is hoped that the attempt at cleansing going on is being done for solely moral reasons. The entire criminal justice system in this country is decrepit. The EFCC is the only dog in the system that has teeth. The attorney Generals office has a prosecution wing. Wouldn’t we like to know what they have achieved in five years?
I implore the Attorney General to help the country take on big politicians who commit electoral atrocities across both parties. If all other agencies in the country can approximate even today’s level of professionalism of the EFCC , this country will be a much better place.