It is no longer news that Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is facing a special Presidential investigative panel over allegations of fraudulent dealings. For keen followers of developments in the Nigerian polity, Magu’s ordeal does not come as a surprise. What is perhaps surprising is that it is happening just now years after such allegations have been flying around in the public domain.
Ibrahim Magu was appointed as the Acting Chairman of EFCC in 2015.Since then, he has remained the Chairman of the EFCC in an acting capacity for 5 years now because the Nigerian Senate refused to confirm him as the substantive Chairman of the commission. Twice in the space of three months, in December 2016 and in March 2017, Mr. Magu appeared before the Senate for screening and twice the Senate voted against confirming him.
On both occasions, the Senate based its decision to not confirm Mr. Magu for the office on incriminating reports against him that it received from the Department of State Security (DSS).
The 2016 DSS report specifically indicted Mr. Ibrahim Magu for fraternizing with a certain Mohammed Umar who is under investigation by the DSS for alleged money laundering and illegal possession of firearms.
The report alleged that Mohammed, a retired Air Commodore in the Nigeria Air Force, paid 40 million Naira for Magu’s rented apartment. It also alleged that Mr. Magu flies around in Mohammed’s private jet for official assignments and private trips, among other allegations.
It is a standard procedure for the Senate to obtain security reports from the relevant security agencies for its constitutional duty to screen and confirm the government’s nominees for appointments.
Interestingly, both the EFCC and the DSS report to the Presidency
But surprisingly, President Muhammad Buhari, widely respected for his anti-corruption stance, retained Mr. Magu as EFCC Acting Chairman despite the Senate’s decision and re-nominated him to the Senate for confirmation in January 2017.
The DSS yet again submitted another damning report on Mr. Magu. This time providing further details on the allegations contained in its previous report.
Again, in 2017, the DSS in an apparent response to the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami’s request for documentary evidence of the allegations it raised in its letters to the Senate, substantiated its allegations against Mr. Ibrahim Magu with 12 incriminating documents.
Based on the DSS reply, the Minister wrote a formal complaint to President Buhari detailing his findings and recommending Magu’s dismissal from his position as the acting Chairman of EFCC. It is understood that Mr. Malami leveled 24 allegations against Mr. Magu.
In addition to the allegations contained in the 2016 and 2017 DSS reports to the Senate, Mr. Malami accused Mr. Ibrahim Magu of diverting funds recovered from corrupt persons, disposing of assets especially buildings seized from corrupt politicians without approval or knowledge of the AGF’s office, discrepancies in the records of recovered funds, among other allegations. The Office of the AGF directly supervises the EFCC.
The President must have finally decided to act based on the strength of Malami’s report by setting up an investigative panel to investigate Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The President’s tacit support for Mr. Magu in the past emboldened him to become a law onto himself. For instance, the EFCC donated a building seized from the former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Madueke, to the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19 by fiat.
That action makes one wonder whether properties the EFCC recovers from alleged corrupt persons automatically become the EFCC’s property or belongs to the federal government.
The allegations of diversion of recovered funds and discrepancies in the records of recovered funds are not surprising because if the commission could openly give out a building, it could do whatever it deemed fit with monies which are not so obvious to Nigerians.