Magu’s removal may bring setback to fight against corruption in Nigeria, coalition tells Buhari
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A coalition of International and National Civil Society Organisations has written to President Muhammadu Buhari that the suspension of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), may bring setback to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
In a letter sent to the President by Re:Common, Globalwitness and The Corner House based in Europe, the coalition said Nigeria has regained unprecedented gains under Magu‘s leadership of EFCC and that his removal under the current circumstances may roll back the momentous gains already recorded under his tenure.
Lucas Manes, Corner House Nicholas Hildyard and Simon Taylor of Globalwitness expressed deep concern over the travails of Magu, saying that the former EFCC boss may be a pawn in the desperate attempts by corrupt officials to kill the EFCC or turn the agency into a willing tool of corrupt politicians.
The letter was signed by Manes, Hildyard, Taylor and their Nigerian counterpart, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju.
“What is going on in Nigeria is of concern to the international community. Magu has proved himself to be up to the task. His determination to fight corruption is evident by the recovery of stolen funds and properties plus his own high moral ground earned at the cost of diligence and hard work never before seen.
“His political removal questions the will of Nigeria to deal with a major cause of the country’s underdevelopment which is corruption,” the groups said in a letter delivered to the Nigerian President,” the coalition posited.
The group further stated that as international organisations they are alarmed that Magu was detained and suspended over allegations made by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General.
“We are therefore greatly alarmed – as are others in the international anti-corruption movement – by reports that Magu has been detained and/or suspended following allegations against him that were reportedly made by Attorney General Malami directly to you.
However, the coalition said it was not opposed to Magu being investigated but the disciplinary process has not been followed on the allegations levied on him.
“The procedures are clearly being hijacked by detractors of Magu in the political space and this is eroding the potential credibility of the outcome of the panel constituted to probe these allegations,” the letter read.
According to the letter, Magu had made giant strides in exposing corruption a current prosecution in Italy that emanated from a complaint by EFCC under his watch.
The letter further read that Magu’s dedication to fighting against corruption led to him being honored with an award of excellence by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation.
“We note that many of the allegations reportedly made by the Attorney General have already been investigated by same Attorney General under your instruction in 2017 and that Magu was exonerated in respect of the corruption allegations,” the group said.
“Only those related to insubordination were freshly leveled. We are concerned that accusations of “insubordination” risk crossing the line that ensures the independence of prosecutors from political interference.”
The group further noted that despite bearing false witness being illegal, no-one has been investigated or charged in relation to bringing the false allegations against Magu in 2017.
While stating that it realised that President Buhari has been placed in a difficult position by the Attorney General, it expressed hope that the president would look for a way to protect the achievements of the EFCC under Magu’s watch.
“We realize that you have been placed in an invidious position by the Attorney General. However, we very much hope that you will find a way forward that protects the huge strides made by the EFCC under Magu’s acting chairmanship,” the coalition said.
“We very much doubt if the Italian case would have reached the stage that it has without his committed and diligent response to Mutual Legal Assistance requests. At this critical stage in the trial, his replacement for political reasons would be wholly regrettable and would only give succor to those being prosecuted.”