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Flashback: How presidency ignored allegation of corruption against Magu in 2017


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WHEN Ibrahim Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) was first appointed as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in November 2015, following the dismissal of Ibrahim Lamorde, the former chairman of the Commission, he very quickly became the arrowhead of the President Muhammadu Buhari anti-corruption fight.

Upon the expiration of his temporary appointment, VP Yemi Osinbajo, while serving as acting president on June 17, 2016, forwarded Magu’s name to the Senate for screening and subsequent confirmation as the substantive Chairman of the anti-graft agency.

However, Magu’s elevation was at first instant marred by an indicting security report from the Department of State Security Service (SSS) and subsequent rejection by the Senate.

The DSS Report

Containing 14 paragraphs, the letter submitted to the Senate via the Services’ letter No. SV.114/ 2 on October 3, 2016, painted Magu as a corrupt agent whose professional and private dealings were in direct contrast to the anti-corruption mission driving the Buhari administration.

According to the report, in December 2010, the Police Service Commission found Magu guilty of “Action prejudicial to state security, withholding of EFCC files, sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a Police officer,” and awarded him severe reprimand as punishment.

The report also disclosed that Magu at the time was occupying a residence rented for N40m, at N20m per annum, adding that the said accommodation was not paid for from the Commission’s finances but by one Umar Mohammed, a retired Nigerian Air Force officer, who has since been arrested by the Commission for alleged corrupt practices.

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It was further disclosed that the EFCC boss has maintained a high profile lifestyle and on many occasions lived extravagantly against the directive given to public servants.

“The EFCC boss has so far maintained a high profile lifestyle. This is exemplified by his preference for First Class air travels. On 24th June 2016, he flew Emirate Airlines’ First Class to Saudi Arabia to perform the Lesser Hajj at the cost of N2,990,196. This is in spite of Mr. President’s directive to all public servants to fly Economy Class,” the report read in part.

In its ultimate recommendation, the report chided the person of Magu and submitted that the nominee lacks the integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.

“In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration,” the report read.

The Senate’s double rejection

In December 2016, following the incriminating report submitted by the SSS, the Senate, under the leadership of Bukola Saraki, former Senate President, rejected Magu’s nomination for the first time.

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However, in January 2018, Buhari re-nominated him for confirmation but in March, he was again rejected a second time by the upper legislative chamber.

Magu’s rejection was announced at a press briefing in the National Assembly by Sabi Abdullahi, Senate spokesperson, after a two-hour closed-door meeting. Abdullahi cited an unfavourable security report as the reason for Magu’s rejection.

Presidency push back

Despite the indicting report against Magu and the Senate’s rejection of his appointment, the presidency retained him as acting EFCC chairman.

Osinbajo while being represented by Nasir El-Rufai, Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, at the commissioning of the Kaduna zonal office of the EFCC in July 2017, said that he and President Buhari had confidence in Magu, adding that he would remain the chairman of the anti-graft agency.

“We have every confidence in Magu to fight corruption to a standstill. He will remain the EFCC chairman as long as I remain the Acting President and as well as Muhammadu Buhari remains the President. “It is our belief that Magu will continue to remain a nightmare for corrupt people for years to come,” he said.

Years later, Magu gets suspended

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Earlier in June, Abubakar Malami, Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice sent a memorandum containing 22 weighty allegations against Magu to President Buhari, urging the sack of the acting Chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, over allegations of corruption.

One of such allegations, according to the publication was that the EFCC boss disclosed a total recovery of N504 billion but lodged N543 billion in the Recovery Account with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), exceeding the disclosed figures by N39 billion.

On Monday, Magu was picked up by security operatives attached to the inter-agency panel set up by Buhari to investigate allegations of corruption and subsequently spent the night in detention at the Police Force Criminal Investigations Department (FCID) in Area 10, Abuja.

By Tuesday, it was reported that the EFFC chief had been suspended from office. Although the presidency is yet to release an official statement on his suspension, a source in the government disclosed to The ICIR that he has been relieved of his duties.

Seun Durojaiye is a journalist with International Center for Investigative Reporting (ICIR).

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