An intense battle has ensued over Ibrahim Magu’s tenure as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A group of politicians and others affected by the aggressive anti-graft drive of the acting EFCC Chairman, are working for the termination of his tenure on November 11.
Magu was appointed on November 11, 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari but the eighth Senate declined to clear him. He has been working in acting capacity since then.
Under him, the EFCC has recovered about N939.51billion in four years, according to a document obtained on the activities of the anti-graft agency.
About 1,636 convictions were also secured within the same period.
The development has brought cash recovery by the agency between 2009 and 2019 to N1.28 trillion.
Magu’s four-year acting tenure has been dotted with activities, including high-profile prosecution and convictions of two former governors, Joshua Dariye (Plateau) and Jolly Nyame (Taraba).
The fact-sheet reads in part: “Total cash recovery in naira reached N1.28 trillion between 2009 – 2019 (August), out of which N939.51 billion or 73 per cent was recovered between 2015 and 2019 (August).
“The recoveries (Naira equivalent) in the last four years under Magu are: N33,180,830.790(2015); N170, 276,862,880(2016); N473,065,195.970(2017); N216,455,497.764(2018); and N46,534,536.954 (as at August 2019).
“In terms of the United States dollars, the EFCC made the following recoveries in the last four years: $42,917,205(2015); $69,142,551(2016); $142,505,121(2017); $47,290,174(2018); and $13,458,041.
“Others cash in pounds included £147,100(2015); £44,785 (2016); £294,852 (2017); £873, 278 (2018); and £4,644,493 (So far in 2019).
“For the recoveries in Euro since 2015, the breakdown reads, €832,237(2015); €56,470 (2016); €7,247,364 (2017); €298,055(2018); and €53,025 (2019).
“It is instructive to state that the EFCC also recorded landmark achievements between January and September, 2019. For example, the commission recovered N63.73billion, $14.04million, £4.65million, €53,325, 2,800 Yen, 294,950 Riyal, 15,200 CAD$ and 36,000 CFA.”
The document also indicated that the EFCC “secured 1,636 convictions in four years including 2015(103); 2016(195); 2017(190);
2018(314); and 2019(834) as at September.
“The EFCC’s recoveries are the highest recorded by any anti-graft agency ever in the history of Nigeria’s war against corruption.
“About 407mansions were seized, out of which 126 have been finally forfeited while 281 are under interim forfeiture. Nine gas stations were seized and placed under interim forfeiture. Parcels of land seized sums up to 98, out of which 56 are under interim forfeiture, while 42 have been forfeited finally to the federal government.
“About 95 per cent of all recoveries in Nigeria is through the EFCC, following court orders, which granted interim or final forfeiture of looted funds and illegally acquired properties.
“The EFCC, in collaboration with agencies of government such as the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria, AMCON, the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, in the last three years, is actively helping to recover otherwise toxic assets and tax liabilities. Funds worth over ¦ 35billion were recovered on behalf of the FIRS, over ¦ 4billion recovered for AMCON and over¦ 328billion recovered for NNPC in Kano State, North- West Nigeria.”
Ahead of November 11, 2019 when Magu ought to statutorily clock four years in office, the battle over his substantive status has become intense.
It was learnt that some forces are waiting for the midnight of November 11 to raise issues bordering on EFCC Establishment Act 2004.
Investigation revealed that there are about seven forces or groups against Magu’s confirmation.
They are some former and serving governors across parties; PDP and all its former political office holders either on trial or under investigation; some serving and retired military and security officers; some of those who are already working on 2023 project; those who are desperate to demystify Magu; some elements in EFCC and influential lawyers in the country.
In the last four years, Magu has only enjoyed tremendous confidence and support of President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.
Magu twice survived plots to send him to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPPS) in order to ease him out of the EFCC.
He also escaped another attempt to implicate him in a subversive plot against the government of President Buhari.
It was gathered that Magu’s saving grace was that when the key suspect in the subversion plot was brought out of detention facility, he did not even recognise Magu as he had never met him.
The latest move against Magu is to wait for November 11 to ask him to step aside until the President takes a final decision on his nomination.
It was learnt that a former chairman of the Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) and ex-Chairman of the PDP Governors Forum are in the forefront of the latest bid to stop Magu’s fresh nomination by the President.
But, counter groups, APC stalwarts, some legal giants and some highly-placed Nigerians have, however, opted for the retention of Magu, whose performance they rate very high.
A source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Contrary to expectations of a smooth sail, the battle for Magu’s confirmation is still on.
“There is no doubt that Magu has redefined the anti-corruption war with huge recoveries from those who looted the treasury. His spectacular achievements accounted for the success story of Buhari’s war against graft.
“But, he ended up stepping on many toes, especially the bigwigs in the society who are desperate to stop his confirmation. A stern officer, Magu does not bow to political pressure and he treats all suspects with the same yardstick.
“Now that he is about to clock four years in office, these bigwigs who wield political clout are saying this is pay-back time. About seven forces are plotting against the re-nomination of the EFCC chairman.
“The reality is that former and serving governors, ex-ministers, ex- political office holders on trial, especially those in the opposition in PDP, and some elements in APC have drawn the battle line with the EFCC chairman because they detest Buhari’s anti-corruption war.
“Even, some EFCC officials are meeting with politicians against Magu because of his strict anti-corruption stance.
“What is delaying his renomination is sheer politics at the top.
A governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “Many of our colleagues do not want Magu because of his rigidity. He does not listen to anybody and once he begins a case, he does not consider all dimensions or perspectives to allegations.
“He is no doubt good, but he should always give suspects the benefit of the doubt. He needs to realise that he is operating in a political environment.
“Now, he needs to lobby politicians in power and in the National Assembly to be nominated again and get confirmed. His experience with the last 8th Senate will suffice.
“As for me, I have nothing against him and I will do my best to ensure his re-nomination.”
Some political office holder, interest groups, lawyers, NGOs are pushing for his retention based on merit.
It was gathered that an influential Northern governor is leading the lobbying group for Magu among power brokers and APC stakeholders.
A chieftain of the APC said: “Magu’s performance is the hallmark of our achievements in office. He needs a second chance in office. Some of us are sticking out our neck for Magu because he has done well.
“It is normal for those in the opposition to plot against Magu because he exposed their 16 years of waste. We know they will jubilate if Magu is dropped by the President.
“We are backing the reappointment of Magu. We appeal to the President to ignore any protest against Magu.”
As at press time, there was no signal on where the President headed on the fate of Magu.
“I think in the next few days, the President will take a decision in line with his constitutional responsibility,” a Presidency source added.
Sections 2 and 3 of the EFCC Act read: “The Chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
“The Commission may make standing orders regulating its proceeding or those of any of its committees.
“The Chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members, shall hold office for a period of four years and may be re-appointed for a further term of four years and no more.
“A member of the Commission may at any time be removed by the President for inability to discharge the functions of his office (whether arising from infirmity of mind or body or any other cause) or for misconduct or if the President is satisfied that it is not in the interest of the Commission or the interest of the public that the member should continue in office.”
A Legal Practitioner and Consultant Prof. Yemi Akinseye-George (SAN) said: “Ibrahim Magu has performed excellently as Chairman of the EFCC. He is fearless, courageous and patriotic. He has left indelible footprints on the sands of time.
“His enigmatic style of leadership has repositioned the EFCC as a strong institution. He deserves to be reappointed for another term. The new Senate should have no difficulty in confirming his appointment.”
A Constitutional lawyer and a member of Honourable Society of Lincolns Inn, London, Barr. Daniel Bwala said: “He did very well. He has lived up to expectations and recorded landmark achievements that will stand the test of time.”