As the Panel which probed his tenure for more than four months submitted its final report today, there was a feeling of uncertainty at the headquarters of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), where the name of the suspended acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu evokes mixed emotions in top offices.
His tenure is viewed from two opposing dimensions. Everyone readily acknowledges the convictions and recoveries made under him as historic. “No EFCC chairman has made the number of convictions and recoveries he’s made,” said a Director who spoke on condition of anonymity. “You have to give that to him. He achieved that by creating five additional zonal offices to expand operations.”
Within his firsh three years in office (2015-2018), a total of 703 convictions were made across the country by the EFCC. Cash recoveries also hit N871 billion within the same period while seized properties include 407 mansions.
But he is said to have failed in the general administration of the EFCC where he allegedly displayed a “glaring lack of capacity.” Personnel of the commission who had worked with him say he had no regard for due process and ran his office like a sole administrator
“He bastardised the procedure of investigation and created his own task force which bypassed directors and reported straight to him,” said one senior personnel. Staff morale was said to be generally very low under Magu as only him was said to be in charge of recruitment, procurement, investigations and prosecutions.
Opinions about Magu at the EFCC appear to confirm allegations of corruption and insubordination leveled against him by the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. The minister had written a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari describing Magu as unsuitable to head the EFCC, and substantiated his claim with many instances of lack of accountability in the commission.
spoke to Nigerians about Magu, EFCC and the Justice Ayo Salami Panel set up to probe his tenure. The panel submitted its final report to President Buhari on Friday. Most of those who spoke to this website also viewed the ex-EFCC boss as a man who did well in his job but lost focus.
Excerpt of the interviews:
Inibehe Effiong, Lagos-based lawyer and human rights activist
“He performed abysmally. I cannot score him credit for how he led the EFCC. When Magu came in, there was one perception that he was going to fight corruption; that he may be interested in fighting corruption. But along the line he totally lost focus. And as far as I’m concerned, I do not have any shred of pity for him because some of these things were self-inflicted.
“He could have avoided the situation he has found himself today if he had discharged the functions of his office without political or personal bias. What I saw was an EFCC that was a lame-duck agency. Magu didn’t do well at all. Look at the case of Akwa Ibom where my former governor, Godswill Akpabio, was allegedly being investigated by the EFCC. Nothing, absolutely nothing, came out of that. Then several other cases that we can find, which shows that that chairman had clearly been compromised. For me, I do not think he deserves to return to that office.”
Peter Samuel Anyebe, Chief Executive Officer, Passionview Solutions Ltd, Guzau, Zamfara State
“As for me, I can categorically say that the guy is corrupt, there is no way he will handle such a position and not be corrupt.
“Why the probe was so serious is that there was somebody in EFCC that actually gave full detail about Magu’s antecedents.
“And when a man is accused of an offense, the presidency would back down or deny him and that is what Buhari and Malami are trying to do.
Shola Badamosi, an Abuja-based Accountant
“In Magu’s years as EFCC boss, he abused his office by acting as a secret agent of the presidency.
“The EFCC under him harassed people, mostly innocent and government critics, while denying them an opportunity for trial. They used force and, in most cases, went against the same law they claim to be preserving.
“A friend of mine was picked up in a club by EFCC agents, who claimed he was a fraudster. He was detained for a long time, and was forced to pay huge sums of money before being released. This is the reality in Nigeria today.
Prof. Peter Njiforti, financial analyst and professor of economics at the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria
“I see him as a very brave person to have confronted the number of people that he fought in the course of fighting corruption, because in the history of this country, I don’t think any person has been able to do what he did.
“Even though some people have been saying that what he did was selective, but I think he did his best, so it is just that if you are fighting corruption and you are not careful, corruption will fight back and eventually, what followed after was corruption fighting back.
“I want to think that the panel will give an independent ruling as possible and come out with findings that will be very credible. If the findings indict the former EFCC Chairman, then he should be prosecuted, but if they vindicate him, then he should be released, compensated; his image should be redeemed and reinstalled as the EFCC chairman.”
Mohammed Danjuma, Katsina-based Publisher
“As far as I’m concerned, Magu did wonderfully well. My assessment of him is that he did well fighting corruption and dealing with VIPs. Look at the way he stood his ground on the Malabu case to see that it is not swept under the carpet.
“What is happening to him now will send wrong signals to others who want to change society. They will be unwilling to fight corruption; they will be discouraged because they know corruption will fight back.
“This is the third time it is happening. They did it to Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri and now Ibrahim Magu.”
Barrister Eze Onyekpere, the Lead Director, Centre for Social Justice
“All allegations relating to Magu are still at the level of conjecture but we need more transparency and accountability to fight corruption.
“We need to make institutions work because you can’t just be the only one to be investigating, prosecuting and after the money is recovered, you manage it and start giving it to cronies and friends.
“There should be separation of powers and we need to institutionalise this process of fighting corruption. We need to have a process where proceeds of corruption are properly documented and managed in a transparent manner.”
Ismaila Isah, Abuja based human rights activist
“He was not so bad while in office. He even did more prosecution of high-profile Nigerians.
“He was just a victim of circumstances; he was being selective in prosecution, trying to protect some individuals. But it dawned on him that those he was trying to protect could not protect him in return”
“Again, what stood against him was that he was assumed to be too powerful at a point, trying to flex muscle with the Minister of Justice and the attorney general.
“The structure of the commission is that, the chairman recognizes the minister and the attorney general, that was where he missed it and that is part of what led to what he is going through now.”
Raphael Okonkwo, Abuja-based entrepreneur
“If by chance Magu goes down, trust me, a lot of people will go with him because a lot of people have soiled their hands. And those people will make sure that judgment doesn’t see the light of day, or even if it does, it’ll just be like that of Orji Uzor Kalu, let’s not also forget Godswill Akpabio.”
Reported by our correspondents.
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