By Olasunkanmi Akoni
Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, has called on authorities to afford acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu his constitutionally and internationally guaranteed fair trial rights in the ongoing probe over alleged infractions on duty.
Magu is reportedly still being detained in police custody on the orders of a presidential panel probing alleged infractions against him.
In a statement on Tuesday, by SERAP Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation expressed concern over what it called “arbitrary arrest,” and insisted that Magu must either be charged with a recognizable criminal offense or released immediately and allowed to do his job without fear of reprisals.
According to SERAP, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC) has reportedly stated that Magu’s arrest may be due to “an outcome of power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power that is not really interested in, or in support of, President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.”
The organisation said: “The reported statement by a member of PACAC seems to suggest that Magu’s arrest may be politically motivated and aim to undermine the independence and freedom of action of the EFCC.
“If true, this would make a mockery of Buhari’s oft-repeated commitment to fight grand corruption and the impunity of perpetrators, which is fuelling widespread and systemic corruption in the country.
“SERAP urges the authorities to afford Magu his constitutionally and internationally guaranteed fair trial rights. Magu must either be charged with a recognizable criminal offense or released immediately and allowed to do his job without fear of reprisals.
“Nigerian authorities cannot continue to keep Magu in detention under suspicious circumstances without bringing any legitimate charges against him in violation of national and international law.”
“Nigerian authorities must support the independence and freedom of action of anti-corruption agencies and institutions if they are to be able to genuinely fight grand corruption, which has for many years turned public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise.”