Who Is scuttling the Anti-corruption War?, By Zainab Suleiman Okino
…it should be noted that Magu is not different from the previous anti-graft czars who were equally engaged in selective persecution and prosecution of the opponents of their pay masters and their political foes while leaving out those who are ready to play ball.
As the anti-graft war appears to have hit the brick wall, Nigeria is gradually becoming a laughing stock in the comity of nations. After the Senate rejected Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC acting chairman for the second time, it remains unclear the forces behind the travails of the anti-corruption czar. Magu’s rejection has pitted the people against the Senate leaving the main culprit out — the president and his kitchen cabinet members. Over the years we have understandably been very critical of our senators’ misdemeanors, referencing their salaries, perks and perquisites of office; such that we do not trust they can do anything in the nation’s interest. However, in the case of Magu, even if the senators are in cahoots with other sinister forces, the blame is not entirely theirs. President Muhammadu appointed both Daura as DSS DG and Magu as acting chairman of EFCC, so why this hostility of one against the other? There is more that meets the eyes in the inner recesses of power than what’s in the open. In the first instance, why did the presidency dither for too long before sending Magu’s name for confirmation, and why did it allow two damning reports on him? This time around, the DSS report jolted Magu, because it was not leaked to the press.
Procedurally, all DSS reports should be made available to the president, who ought to have seen the one on Magu, before it got to the Senate. Obviously, the conspiracy against Magu is multi-faceted, and must have been hatched at the presidency, executed by the DSS, which found willing tool and stooge in the Senate and Senator Dino Melaye respectively. If Buhari was interested in Magu’s confirmation, he knew what to do as alluded to by the Senate President Bukola Saraki over the weekend. So, the blame for the setback for the war on corruption is on the presidency’s lack of consistency and shoddy way of handling issues. It is dirty politics at play. Magu too was used for some dirty jobs, to harass perceived enemies and opponents of the state. Now, his day of reckoning is here. This, by no means exonerates Magu, who apparently has dined and wined with the likes of people he accuses of corruption, and who are also ready to take him down.
Three weeks ago, my column was centred on the governors’ mismanagement of bailout funds for their states. It was titled, “Before Nigerian governors wrecked the country” and concluded thus: “There is however hope that the long of arms of the law could catch up with them, if the government is serious about fighting corruption to a standstill, and if anti-corruption agencies like EFCC, ICPC and even the police and judiciary are purged of bad eggs and are allowed to do their work unhindered and without interference from the executive. Sadly, no governor has been sent to jail in Nigeria since civil rule took shape in 1999, because the guilty have the means to subvert the course of justice. I hope the EFCC’s investigation of the Paris Club, bailout funds and the Suswam phenemenon will not end in the dustbin of history like others before it”. (Emphasis added). Now most of these permutations are now subjects of discourse in the polity. Few days after my lamentation, former Adamawa state governor, James Ngilari was convicted and committed to jail. That gave hope to Nigerians. Alas! the joy was short-lived. The gang-up that crushed Magu included many ex-governors in the Senate and serving senators of the APC stock, all of who were at the Senate chamber to give Magu a bloody nose.
So why did the presidency abandon Magu in the cold? We might never know except to hazard some guesses. The Paris club bailout to states, referred to above is a plausible excuse. Magu is already probing some governors (who have immunity against prosecution anyway) for diverting part of the money to themselves and some principal officers of the National Assembly. The governors are powerful and can abandon the president, if he messes up with them as the Magu probe of bailout appears. The race for 2019 may be far in the works already. His non-confirmation is perhaps payback for his recalcitrance. These are interesting times in our polity.
Having said this though, it should be noted that Magu is not different from the previous anti-graft czars who were equally engaged in selective persecution and prosecution of the opponents of their pay masters and their political foes while leaving out those who are ready to play ball. Magu also does not pretend about his own biases, because he works for a government that only pays lip service to fighting corruption. If not, how do you explain his association with stupendously rich Air Commodore Mohammed Umar (retired), a member of the ruling APC who had his hands soiled in dirty deals even from previous administration and has even compromised on many fronts? How does he explain his N50 million rent and travels on first class ticket grossing N2.9 million? Why is the presidency playing the ostrich, pretending they want Magu and throwing him to the dogs? Just to deceive us that the anti-corruption war is on course? Nigerians know better please.