Saraki, Magu and the Phantom War on Corruption
By Jude Ndukwe
Wednesday, 15th of March was the day Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, was hoping to have his appointment confirmed by the much vilified Nigerian Senate after having been rejected the first time over a report written against him and sent to the Upper Chamber by the Department of State Services, DSS.
The president who seems to be much fascinated by the showmanship of the anti-corruption agency chief, asked the attorney-general and minister of justice to look into the DSS report and get back to him. The minister, having taken a cue from Mr President, returned a “not guilty” verdict on Magu, and his name was resubmitted to the Senate for another try, a try that has failed and fell flat on its face.
Some Nigerians, especially those desperate to be seen as either saying something no matter how nonsensical, or the self-appointed headmasters and Mr Know-All of our democracy, have blamed the senate for the failure of Magu to pass the screening at the red chamber, hinging it on a faulty pedestal that the reason the senators refused to confirm Magu was because some of them, including the senate president, Bukola Saraki, are under the radar or are actually being prosecuted by the EFCC for one financial misdemeanor or the other.
However, the facts on ground prove that nothing can be further from the truth. It is just too unfortunate that in our clime and time, sentiments becloud the sagacity of even sages beyond the comprehension of even babies.
One wonders why, with the weight of the report against Ibrahim Magu by a sister security agency under the direct control of the same presidency, the president would, in the first place, contemplate sending his name to the senate for confirmation? Or has it come to Magu, who by the events of the last few days, has also risen to the rank and joined the league of the many untouchables in the presidency? Or is it just that because Magu is involved therefore the report of the DSS no longer matters?
Or is this not the same DSS whose reports against judges and justices of our judiciary were hailed to high heavens by the presidency, its allies and cronies? Why would the report by the DSS against the judiciary even as an institution be hailed but rejected when it comes to just one man? Does this not smack of high-level hypocrisy on our part as a nation and double standards on the part of our rulers as a gang?
The Senate simply did its job! What kind of senate would have gone ahead to confirm Magu after the damning report by another security agency whose report appear to be very credible following the obvious painstaking investigations and processes it went through to come up with their conclusion that Magu failed the integrity test?
There is an African proverb that says “Before we blame the hawk for swooping on the chicks, we must first blame the mother hen for exposing her chicks”. Before we blame the senate for carrying out their constitutional duty on Magu, we need to ask why Magu could not answer a question as simple as how much his much vaunted fight against corruption has recovered from suspected looters. If that was a job/promotion interview, Magu loses his opportunity there and then! As an anti-corruption chief who derives orgasmic pleasure in churning out figures of purported recovered loots in the media primarily for the purpose of just getting Nigerians excited and his godfathers deceived, he should have had at his finger tips such amounts purportedly recovered even if only at the end of, say, December, January or even February.
His inability to give any figure when asked by the senate confirms the report of the DSS that the man is integrity-challenged. It is only a man at that level who has sinister plans with recovered loots that would pretend not to know and or refuse to disclose such figures to appropriate bodies especially during an exercise as serious as a senate screening.
This confirms the point raised by the DSS in their famous report to the senate that Mr Magu “will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration”. Is it that those blaming the senate for Magu’s multiple legislative mishaps did not read the DSS report? Would they prefer to continue to have Magu as EFCC chairman for so long and compromise national security, assets and image just to serve primordial interests?
According to the DSS report, Magu currently lives in a house rented at an exorbitant rate of N40m, at N20m per annum, paid for by an ally of his, Air Commodore Umar Mohammed rtd, who the DSS described as a questionable businessman, who also enlisted the services of the Federal Capital Development Authority, FCDA, to award the furnishing of the house to his company, Africa Energy, at another prohibitive sum of N43m.
Magu loses the integrity and morality needed to investigate a vast entity like the FCDA should the need arises tomorrow, and of course there is a need for it even now. But having eaten the forbidden sacrifices offered to the gods, can Magu still be a priest of the people? The answer is No!
So it is difficult if not extremely impossible for a responsible senate to just gloss over these weighty allegations among others against Magu. If the investigation was carried out by the senate themselves and not the DSS, one could be tempted to say that their work was tainted with ill motives. But now that it is a sister security agency under the same presidency whose reports in the past against perceived enemies of this current administration have been hailed as a worthy template for others to learn from that came up with the report against Magu, one would have thought that the DSS and not Magu should be hailed.
To tie the rejection of Magu by the senate to Saraki because of political expediencies is to expose our democratic institutions to needless opprobrium and plant the seeds of confusion in the nation. In a country where laws are respected and institutions empowered, Magu should by now have been arrested and prosecuted by the DSS based on its weighty report against him.
Even if the powers that be decide to protect him from arrest and prosecution, which would be most unfortunate a thing to do, must they foist a man who has lost every modicum of integrity on us? Why do we apply multiple standards in our dealings on matters of critical national importance?
The right thing has to be done. Magu has to go so as to have a breath of fresh air in the badly contaminated EFCC. We cannot afford to continue to have an “Integrity-Challenged Charlatan” (ICC) as the head of our anti-graft agency. To do that is to make hypocritical nonsense of our war against corruption. Let the hypocrisy stop and let the senate be!
—email@example.com; Twitter: Stjudendukwe