For a columnist of several decades’ standing and a former presidential spokesman, all that Segun was trying to do in the piece was to give indication that he still has access to information from the Presidential Villa, but unfortunately this has been information with zero value. These days, it is an occupation to peddle influence to earn a living.
Intellect is the virtue of ignoring one’s emotions’ attempt to contaminate one’s opinions. – Mokokoma
Some of us have been restrained from making comments about the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Mustapha Magu. There are several reasons for this, but most importantly, it may be wise for one to await the outcomes of the panel led by Justice Ayo Salami, a well-respected former judge, pertaining to various allegations made against the EFCC head.
But sometimes, people force you out of your shell. A good friend of mine sent a link to a piece written by a member of the ThisDay editorial board, Segun Adeniyi, and added a caveat to this that: “I know you will not agree with him”. He was right. Not only do I not agree with him, I think piece is too nauseating for it not to be responded to.
The premise, which he started with, was troubling: that Magu may not recover from the Abuja power game because he stopped retired Lt. General T.Y. Danjuma’s cheque, as he sought to pay for a private jet, and also that he ordered General Abdulsalami Abubakar’s house to be raided.
For a columnist of several decades’ standing and a former presidential spokesman, all that Segun was trying to do in the piece was to give indication that he still has access to information from the Presidential Villa, but unfortunately this has been information with zero value. These days, it is an occupation to peddle influence to earn a living. Such category of actors are essentially economic rent-seekers. They are everywhere expressing familiarity with people in power in order to milk the gullible. I am not saying Segun is one of them, but he should stop sounding like he receives daily security briefings since he left the Villa as a spokesperson.
To digress a little: Who pays for an aircraft through a cheque? Its highly unlikely that this is the procedure. It is not like buying cement, so we should refrain from misinforming the public. Also, how did Adeniyi conclude that General Abubakar’s house was “turned upside down”? Does any law enforcement agency actually have the right to do that arbitrarily?
But then, both respected Generals have quickly debunked Segun’s claims. It happened that the EFCC where searching for an address and they stumbled on the guest house of General Abubakar. They asked questions, were redirected and left without any incident. No one entered any house and “turned it upside down.” That was even in 2017. So why did Segun write this? News from the Villa, he said. OK.
Most of the issues raised by Segun Adeniyi pertain to forfeited assets. And sweeping statements have been made that due process was not followed in auctioning off the recovered assets. Evidently, he portrayed that he knows little about asset recovery and management…
For the sake of an argument, let us even assume the two incidents were true. Adeniyi was so worried that these had happened, and that the Generals were “harassed and ridiculed” without the president’s knowledge. What Uncle Segun seems to be impressing upon us is that when a ‘former-this and ex-that’ are involved in matters, clearance should be obtained from the president, but when it’s the poor, you and I, we should be detained without clearance. He does not seem to know that he has embarrassed the duo and exposed his peculiar way of thinking by insinuating that when former leaders seek audience with the president, it is not to discuss issues of security or economic concerns, but only matters of personal interest. Does President Buhari have time for such? I doubt this very much; unless, of course, Adeniyi is referring to what he experienced as a presidential spokesman, and thinks that things have remained the same since then.
He went further to assert that Magu should live above suspicion. I know for a fact that Segun is a close friend of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu. Weren’t similar allegations not made against Ribadu as well? Which former EFCC boss has not had similar or worse allegations levelled against him or her? When he served in government, was the EFCC boss, Nuhu Ribadu, given a fair hearing? The good thing is that it is only Magu who has been given the opportunity to clear himself before a panel of enquiry. Instead of waiting for the outcome, conclusions are being made.
Most of the issues raised by Segun Adeniyi pertain to forfeited assets. And sweeping statements have been made that due process was not followed in auctioning off the recovered assets. Evidently, he portrayed that he knows little about asset recovery and management, as he referred to the report of a three-member committee that audited all the assets recovered by investigative agencies between 2015 and 2017. He further relied on a statement by former Senate president Saraki about how monies recovered are being re-looted. Those are his primary sources. Does he understand that the lack of full adherence to due process does not necessarily mean that monies are missing?
If Adeniyi does not know, he should ask. He will not find such information in any James Hadley Chase book. The Asset Recovery and Management Unit of the Federal Ministry of Justice can adequately sensitise him on the process involved. But since he is too big to visit the EFCC offices, he may schedule a short course with the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) or the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) to educate him about this.
In brief, monies stolen from public coffers, when finally siezed through forfeiture processes by courts of competent jurisdiction, go back to source. The same goes for individuals. Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA’s) have departments for asset recovery and management, which are coordinated by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation. Are there gaps in the reconciliation there? Certainly, loads of them. Are there also infractions? This is very likely. Furthermore: Is there a low level of compliance with instructions of the attorney general? Certainly. Should this be tolerated? Absolutely not.
Adeniyi further exposed what could be considered as his own superiority complex: He thinks that “Magu lacked both the intellect and temperament to head the EFCC” and, of course, it would be beneath him to meet with such person! However, I would simply point out that the statistics highlight that Magu has made the most recoveries of stolen public property…
If we audit any ministry, department or agency (MDA) of government, there will definitely be accounting gaps. What is then important is to bridge those gaps legally. Most of the existing gaps are not in the process of the disposal of assets. The main issue is in seeking approval and reporting all matters to the attorney general, which most LEA’s fail to, or belatedly, do. All agencies that defy the orders of the attorney general should be subjected to disciplinary measures. And, if indeed monies are missing, the panel will inform Nigerians and recommend appropriate action to be taken to strengthen the system. It’s a systematic problem that should be addressed, however Segun is more interested in tarring Magu.
He mentioned that he is not a fan of Magu because of what his former principal told him about Magu. Yet, does he know what many people think about the Umaru Yar’Adua government in which he served? He should ask his friends, Mallam Nuhu and Governor El-Rufai, what they think of the late Umaru Yar’Adua! Why people form opinions on the basis of what others think is baffling. It is so bad that he refused to meet with Magu. His mind had been made up and biased much earlier. This is the mindset of some people in positions of power – pontificating and judging on the basis of rumours, innuendoes and other people’s opinions.
Adeniyi further exposed what could be considered as his own superiority complex: He thinks that “Magu lacked both the intellect and temperament to head the EFCC” and, of course, it would be beneath him to meet with such person! However, I would simply point out that the statistics highlight that Magu has made the most recoveries of stolen public property, of all the EFCC bosses who have held office so far. Although his ‘luck’ might be that he served immediately after the Jonathan administration, but statistically, his record has been the best till date.
Enough of Magu. I think Segun has sought to degrade and insult all those who took part in building the EFCC into the institution that it has become. For an agency of 16 years, they have done well. Segun has refused to see a refinery that has not pumped a litre of oil but spends billions of naira every year. But that is irrelevant. All eyes are trained on the EFCC.
Whatever the outcome of the panel, I wish the next EFCC boss the best of luck. For those who know a little about the system, no rational person would want to be on that seat, unless of course, he or she will run it like an ice-cream store.
Umar Yakubu is with the Centre for Fiscal Transparency and Integrity Watch. Twitter: @umaryakubu