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Monday, December 4, 2023

Regiger EFCC, Mr Chairman | Guardian Nigeria News


I would like to report that a few days ago I walked through the maze of the National Archives, the burial site where Nigerians have come up with brilliant, practical and pragmatic solutions to Nigerian problems in judicial and administrative commissions, commissions and panels dedicated to Created to respond to specific issues and challenges.

catch my breath.
The archives are not a pretty sight. It is an indictment of a nation that, lost in its own multifaceted but incoherent ambitions, wants to join the Joneses of progressive and modern nations. This archive is a silent testimony to the rise and fall of our nation, and gives you some clues as to why inertia and indifference in leadership have held back the nation we have been given by man and nature, and forced it to remain a potentially great nation. Hundreds of bookshelves groaned under the weight of these reports.

This is one of them. In July 2020, EFCC Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari. The president based on a series of letters written to him by the Attorney-General and Justice Minister Abubakar Marami, in which he accused Magu of various acts of corruption, including the alleged misappropriation of billions of naira to recover funds and purchase property Through an agent in Dubai.

Buhari suspended the acting chairman and appointed a judicial inquiry committee to investigate the allegations. The purpose of the Judicial Inquiry Committee is to show that the president means business. The committee, chaired by Judge Ayo Salami, former president of the Court of Appeal, has 45 days to complete its mandate and submit a report to the President. A little more time was given. It finally completed its mission and delivered a four-box report to the President on November 19, 2020.

When Buhari got the report, he said something that in my opinion exposed the hollowness of his professed anti-corruption campaign. I think he lost the baton in his anti-corruption fight before leaving office last month. Victory in war is always through corruption, and corruption constantly mocks the commanders and infantry of war.

“…the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touch the leadership of the agency established by law to coordinate and execute all economic and financial crimes,” Buhari said. Fundamentally strikes and undermines the abominable act of the government’s fight against corruption.”

The report has not yet been made public. Buhari declined to release it. He ignored the public’s right to know the committee’s findings. Are the allegations against Magu true? The president, who was supposed to be the sole beneficiary of the committee’s work, chose instead to serve on it.

I thought he investigated Ma-gu so he could take action and energize the anti-corruption fight. For two years, Magu lived in fear of being asked to tell his story to a judge. He was never held accountable in court for his alleged violations as required by law. He has not retired from the police force. He was simply ignored because, contrary to public expectations, Buhari did not intend to take any action on the Magu case and the findings of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry.

Buhari, with his indifference to the committee and its findings and recommendations, probably never imagined that he was undermining his incorruptible war on corruption as president. Remember, he is here to “destroy corruption before it kills Nigeria”. He mocks the conduct of the war and his commitment to and support for it.

The Magu case presents an opportunity for Buhari to clean up the system and reinvigorate it for a new phase in the long war. He neglects himself and puts an empty ring on his anti-corruption integrity, which is sadder for this country than you can imagine. The committee recommended that the president appoint an acting chairman for a two-year term, but Buhari ignored the advice and immediately appointed Abdul Rashid Bawa as the substantive chairman of the EFCC.

Buhari twice asked the Senate to confirm Magu’s appointment, but the Senate twice rejected his request because a DSS report on Magu showed that the man got his hands dirty while serving as a senior police officer elsewhere, And was deemed unfit to head an anti-corruption agency. . Despite this, Buhari has retained Magu’s acting capacity for five years in defiance of the law and the rule of law. He kept Magu, and Magu splashed mud on his face.

Thanks to resourceful reporters, we know that the committee uncovered major cases of corruption under Ma-gu’s watch. His council is a festering sore in this country. The committee informed the nation of what had happened under Magu. More importantly, it found that the integrity of the committee had been compromised in a number of cases. It exposes an institution that needs a complete overhaul to return it to a path of integrity and public trust. The Magoo case provided the president with a jumping-off point.

The fact that President Borah Thiinub suspended Bawa about two weeks ago to allow the government to investigate corruption allegations against him took on added urgency. The President’s unexpected actions, which show that EFCC has lost its moral authority and professional integrity and has been mired in rampant corruption and corruption, are clearly not a compliment to Buhari as an anti-corruption czar.

Public institutions are like fish, rotting from the ground up. If the EFCC chair is rotten, it would be naive to expect that the staff of the committee will not be completely rotted either.

Both EFCC chairs have been brought down for bribery and corruption, which has a poor record. The President needs a radical and transformative reorganization of the Commission to effect a fundamental paradigm shift in the war and restore public confidence in its integrity and the ability of its Chairman and staff to clean up its damaged image.

The committee is a one-man show, with the chairman enjoying unlimited powers. No public institution should become a one-man show to prevent the accumulation and gross abuse of power. It is human nature that those who have absolute power tend to abuse it absolutely.

Not surprisingly, the Salami Commission found that Magu abused these powers by only a) deciding whether to prosecute a case, and b) choosing to dishonestly record items seized by the Commission from criminals, including vast sums of property money.

PLEASE NOTE: “From its findings, the Commission found that Ibrahim Magu’s prosecution and decision on the case file was based on his personal thoughts, contrary to the law and facts. The Commission also noted widespread corruption in the operation of the EFCC , abuse of power and widespread impunity. Between 2016 and 2019, 14 procurement fraud cases involving $N117, 972, 209, 035 and $309,151,419 were dropped under Magu’s custody.” Cases of multi-million dollar fraud by high profile individuals…”

As the Igbo people like to say, chei.
The Commission is an outpost of the Nigerian Police. The Salami Commission found that, in addition to its core staff, there were 970 police officers, 114 drivers, 641 mobile police officers and 215 telephone operators. The committee has clearly become overcrowded and unmanageable. Salami pointed out that the past four chairmen of the council have all been police officers. He suggested that when appointing a new chair of the committee, “consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies, as well as key personnel from the EFCC…”

This makes sense. The Nigerian Police Force is one of the least trustworthy public institutions in the country. Evidence of the committee’s malfeasance is evidence that its people seconded to the committee have not washed their hands. It has been suggested that the committee be headed by a retired appeals court judge, and that the person designated as chairman in the current structure should be given a different title. worthy of presidential consideration. Why is there no board of directors where the chairman is primarily responsible?

There are too many problems with the existing structure of the EFCC. These not only diminish the effectiveness of the committee, but also create space for the committee to become an attack dog to intimidate political opponents, real or imagined.

The late Chief Justice of Nigeria, Ibrahim Cuttigi, had advised the EFCC to pursue evidence-based prosecutions rather than the current investigation-based practice.

I’m sure if a retired jurist was leading the EFCC he wouldn’t have allowed the committee to go to court with an inconclusive investigation, just court fishing. The president must reassess the prosecution of his anti-corruption war. The fringes of war are frayed. It has lost momentum.

As we have seen, the corrupt fought back and fought hard against the committee. Now is not the time for cosmetics. Either we as a nation are committed to fighting corruption resolutely and honestly, or we formally embrace it as our way of life. A nation has to be famous for something. But we must choose to be famous for being corrupt. This is a poor choice.


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