Magu: A chequered financial crimes busting career

Commissioner of Police, who has a degree in Accounting and further trained in Financial Crimes Investigation at the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and London Metropolitan Police Institute, is a pioneer staff of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) under the headship of Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, He had previously served as head of agency’s Economic Governance Unit (EGU) responsible for investigating senior public officials.

The Senate’s turndown of his confirmation is not the first time he would be facing challenges in the course of his career with the anti-graft commission.

After Ribadu’s exit as EFCC chairman in 2007, he was accused of keeping case files of top politicians under investigation. Consequently, his Abuja residence was searched and some belongings carted away by operatives of the commission. After some days in detention, he was redeployed to the Police.

He, however, made a return to the EFCC in 2011, following the appointment of Lamorde as the commission’s chairman.

They had worked together when the latter was the head of the agency’s Operations Unit. Perhaps Magu’s involvement in investigations of politically exposed persons in the past, explains why some analysts insist that he is a victim of circumstance. They recalled that he has contended with some powerful forces since he took over the leadership of the anti-graft agency and “reinvigorated” the anti-corruption war.

One of such contestations, at a time triggered a row between him and the Nigeria Bar Association (NBA).

The association’s president, Mr, Abubakar Mahmoud, had in his inaugural speech recommended that the EFCC be limited to investigation, while prosecution should be handled by an independent resource prosecution agency.

But, the EFCC in its reaction, said “Mahmoud’s suggestions appear perfectly in sync with a cleverly disguised campaign by powerful forces that are uncomfortable with the reinvigorated anti-graft campaign of the EFCC and are hell-bent on emasculating the agency by stripping it of powers to prosecute with the lame excuse that an agency that investigates cannot also prosecute.”

The commission did not stop at that. It went far in ridiculing members of the legal profession by labelling some of them as rogues. “A Bar populated or directed by people perceived to be rogues and vultures cannot play the role of priests in the temple of justice,” it said.

Despite the belief that some forces may be out to stop Magu and consequently frustrate the anti-graft war, there is a political school that believes that the EFCC has not demonstrated fairness since the inception of the present administration and Magu’s appointment to lead the anti-corruption war.

This political school has persistently accused the commission of focusing more on members of the opposition political parties, particularly, officials of the immediate past Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) government, while ignoring allegations of corruption against some officials of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).

The conviction of members of this political school is that Magu is playing the same script of the Ribadu era when the EFCC was used to harass opponents of then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He was advised against this backdrop to restrict himself to the responsibilities of the commission as spelt out in its establishment act as well as distance the agency from the politics of members of the party in government.

Besides these factors, there is also speculation in some quarters that the ordeal of the EFCC acting chairman is as a result of the power play among President’s Buhari’s kitchen cabinet.

The president’s men are said to be torn on the propriety or otherwise of having Magu confirmed. Though the Presidency has said that it would soon react to the Senate position on Magu’s confirmation having received communication from the Red Chamber, the President’s position will determine what next for the embattled EFCC acting chairman.

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