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Time To Restore The Reputation Of Nigeria’s Economic And Financial Crimes Commission: Magu Should Resign Forthwith:

By Human Rights Writers Association Of Nigeria (HURIWA)
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A statement by the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) Calling on the Suspended EFCC Acting Chairman; Ibrahim Magu to Resign so as not to Destroy what is left of The Reputation of the Anti- Graft Agency and the urgent need to expand the scope of investigation on all the cases of assets forfeiture including the serious claim by Chief Emmanuel Nwude that the EFCC under Ibrahim Magu allegedly cornered his assets that were not part of the originally listed assets to be forfeited in the judgment of the Lagos High Court when he was convicted for advance fees fraud including houses of his original family built long before he had issues with the law.

BACKGROUNG
For the purpose of clarification, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is the major Financial crimes combating agency in Nigeria.

It was established in 2003 partially in response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), which named Nigeria as one of the 23 countries non-cooperative in the international community’s efforts to fight money laundering.

Since its inception, the Anti-Graft Agency has made giant strides to rid Nigeria of the popular Advance Fee Fraud otherwise known as 419 or the Nigerian Scam, positioning itself as a major tool for fighting official corruption in Nigeria and money Laundering.

EFCC partners with several agencies like the FBI, metropolitan Police, German Police, Canadian Police, USAID, DFID, the World Bank, The UNODC, Commonwealth Secretariat etc.

It is no doubt that recent events, which climaxed in the invitation, probe and detention of the Agency’s Acting Chairman; Ibrahim Magu has left much to be desired of the Financial Crimes Combating Agency.

In view of this and coupled with our desire as a foremost Civil Rights Group, with the single agenda of building a formidable and economically strong united Nigeria based on rule of law and respect for rights, equity and justice, do make this statement calling for the resignation of the embattled acting Chairman of the EFCC in order to save what is left of the Agency in terms of reputation and credibility.

THE ISSUES:
It is no news that Ibrahim Magu; a Nigerian Police Officer who served as acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) from 9 November 2015, until his suspension on 7 July 2020 is facing about 21 corruption allegations brought against him by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice; Abubakar Malami.

The former EFCC boss is being interrogated by the Rtd, Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Probe Panel over allegations bordering on mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by EFCC.

A final report of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the Federal Government Recovered Assets and Finances by EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020 had seriously indicted and implicated Magu on various allegations levelled against him.

The terms of reference for the investigative committee were:

1. Investigate, verify and review the recommendations of the Presidential Committee on Audit of Recovered Assets (PCARA ) as it relates to the EFCC, with a view to ascertaining the complicity or otherwise of the Ag. Chairman; Ibrahim Magu, in the mismanagement of the assets recovered by the Commission.

2. Identify Avenues through which the recovered assets are dissipated and seized, recovered, forfeited (Interim and Final) assets are valued, managed, disposed and/or mismanaged with a view to ascertaining compliance or otherwise with extant laws, regulations, processes and procedures.

3. Review the existing procedures on the Management of the seized, recovered and Forfeited assets (interim and final) and proffer Standard Operational Procedures for the management of seized, recovered and forfeited assets.

4. Determine whether assets recovered during his tenure, whether locally in Nigeria or abroad, are being kept safely in a manner as to preserve their original value and determine:

• Whether all the assets could be properly accounted for by the Ag. Chairman.

• To confirm if any of the assets have been diverted to the benefit of the Ag. Chairman, his family, relation, friends or favoured staff.

• To recover any such diverted assets and return back to the EFCC or appropriate government agency. The committee was also to probe and report on corruption and money laundering allegations based on petitions and intelligence reports, involving Magu and Bureau De Change operators as well as some of his associates.

It was to audit the Assets and Finances of the EFCC as a legal entity from 2015-2020, with a view to establishing compliance or otherwise with procurement procedures of the EFCC in line with the provisions of the Procurement Act.

The PCARA revealed how the investigative reports on EFCC’s activities by the Nigeria Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) exposed acts of corruption and money laundering against some EFCC officials, including Magu. The NFIU report shows that the Acting Chairman has been using different sources to allegedly siphon money from the EFCC, and in some cases allegedly collecting bribes from suspects.

The report showed a particular Bureau de Change, owned by Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono linked to the Acting Chairman based in Kaduna has more than 158 accounts and has been receiving huge sums of money. The PCARA report also claimed that Magu was linked to a N28m payment to Falana who is alleged to be his close associate and ally.

Ibrahim Magu ,who was released on bail yesterday, Wednesday has been in detention since Monday, July 6, following his invitation for questioning by the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel investigating the various cases of official misconduct and financial irregularities against him, made by the Attorney General and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, who demanded for his removal as the acting Chairman of the EFFC in a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari.

In order to allow for an unhindered probe by the Presidential Investigation Panel under the Tribunal of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws, President Buhari had on Friday July 10, 2020 approved the suspension of Ibrahim Magu and asked Muhammed Umar who is EFCC’s Director of Operations to take charge and oversee the operations and activities of the anti-corruption agency pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation on the allegations against Ibrahim Magu and further directives in that regards.

WHY IBRAHIM MAGU SHOULD RESIGN
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) is worried that corruption has been so pervasive in Nigeria that it has turned public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise. Graft has fueled political violence, denied millions of Nigerians access to even the most basic health and education services, and reinforced police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.

If a man who is being alleged to have been entangled in the web of corruption is left to superintend over the anti-graft Agency it will make a mockery of the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in fighting corruption.

It would be recalled that in 2017, Again, in 2019, months after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and Lagos lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN) publicly declared that the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Mr. Ibrahim Magu does not require the confirmation of the Senate to be in office, his supporters renewed prayers for his confirmation by the Senate.

Professor of Law and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Itse Sagay (SAN), who also toed Osinbajo and Falana’s line when Magu was rejected for a second time by the Senate in 2017, also made a volte-face then, and urged the Senate to revisit Magu’s case.

With the recent happenings, we are puzzled as to what informed the persistent demand for Magu’s confirmation particularly from the authorities without first clearing allegation of corruption against him and what is now delaying his outright removal from office or his resignation.

We do not think it has anything to do with his performance as going by the records we are yet to see any feat in the anti-corruption war that makes him indispensable as a person, if at all there is still such a war going on.

This development is both a moral burden on the executive, as well as the failure to observe global standards and best practices by a government that rode to power on the wings of integrity.

The 8th Senate twice rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, after the State Security Service, SSS, reaffirmed its position that the nominee lacks integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.

"No one gives what he does not have”. Being boastful is one thing, actual display of the position you boast of is another thing. For one to fail the examination he sets is the 9th wonder of the world. How long is Mr. Magu allowed to act under Nigerian law? Is it forever?

The executive through the DSS, questioned his fitness to occupy the office, and the 8th senate agreed with it. But executive order has kept him there illegally for these years, and failed to clear him of the corruption baggage.

He sems to have been crushed under the weight of the burden just like all his actions in office carried out under the burden. We were ab initio told by law, that he is not fit and proper to occupy the office by parliamentary authority. Anything else is void, no matter the attire it is clothed or coloured.

Section 2(3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 provides that “the Chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President and appointment shall be subject to the confirmation of the Senate.

The implication is that the reign of Magu as the Head of the EFCC never received the full blessing of statutory compliance. It is only hoped that the right step would urgently be taken especially now that his conduct in office has been marred with alleged financial misdeeds.

It is rather disturbing, that a man who has been chairing an anti-corruption campaign (whether in acting or substantive capacity) has a DSS damning report over his head, which was not totally cleared. We do not intend to dabble into the politics of the issue. What is important is that the law should lead.

No doubt, Magu’s probe has reminded us of the very short and witty contribution, human rights lawyer; Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who had stated then that: “What goes around comes around. No one can hide behind a finger. No one can cover the sun with his palm. When the market is on fire, even the lame, deaf, dumb and blind will know because they will feel the heat.”

OUR STAND AND WAY FORWARD
We believe that in spite of myriad of setbacks, a stronger and more independent EFCC represents Nigeria’s most promising avenue to make tangible progress in the fight against corruption. In large part, this is because the EFCC is the only Nigerian government institution that has posed meaningful challenge to the impunity enjoyed by corrupt and powerful members of the political elite.

Our team believes that the character and capacity of the EFCC’s leadership is an important issue and therefore calls for the resignation of the embattled and suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Ibrahim Magu.

We also restate our earlier call to the Justice Ayo Salami – led presidential panel to expand the terms of reference to the period that Mr. Nuhu Ribadu headed the anti-graft body and also publicly invite interested Nigerians who had had one bad experiences or the other about their encounters with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC to send in memoranda and petitions. This is because, the anti-graft commission stinks of professional misconduct and auditing corruptions which should necessitate a more elaborate investigations by the Justice Ayo Salami led Presidential Panel of inquiry on EFCC.

Additionally, we urge the Presidency to do more to fight corruption and strengthen the capacity and independence of key anti-corruption institutions, because, Corruption is at the heart of many of Nigeria’s most serious human rights problems.

COMRADE EMMANUEL ONWUBIKO:
NATIONAL COORDINATOR.
MISS. ZAINAB YUSUF, NATIONAL DIRECTOR OF MEDIA AFFAIRS.

HUMAN RIGHTS WRITERS ASSOCIATION OF NIGERIA (HURIWA).

16th July 2020.