The Ibrahim Magu takedown

I have all week been reflecting deeply on the unfolding events since the taking down of erstwhile Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Chairman, Ibrahim Magu.

It was a take down that everyone involved first refused to accept as an arrest until now that he has spent more than a week in a police cell, reporting from there to the Justice Ayo Salami Panel investigating allegations made against him.

To imagine that such a colossus of institutional power as Ibrahim Magu, Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was blocked in traffic dramatically and his journey to wherever diverted to the Presidential villa can only be explained by a hazard guess – that Ibrahim Magu had ignored honouring formal invitations made in civilised standards.

I refused last week to describe the takedown as an arrest.

This week, I want to use a small voice to condemn that manner of arrest, mainly because it was crude and uncivilised and a very bad template that I fear will be copied against ordinary law abiding citizens by crooks and dangerous elements in our worsening insecure urban situations.

Already, it has become the vogue for bandits to wear police and military uniforms to abduct citizens.

Now we have shown that crooks in the land have taught the organised governance system some uncivilised method.

I condemn it and wish that steps would be taken to deprogram our security agencies against perfecting the method of taking down Ibrahim Magu as a standard operational method.

In fact, since this happened, I have no longer been needing to wonder where our kidnappers got their templates from.

It is from such abuse of office.

If I did not believe that the state could have been responsible for the disappearance without a trace of Sundiata, the young caustic blogger, my doubts have been swept off.

If Magu could be torpedoed in broad daylight Abuja traffic like that, who is safe in Nigeria?

As if I am saying something new, I must emphasise that the method is wrong and condemnable.

My other concern is the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission itself.

It is disheartening that from the establishment of the commission by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2003, we have had repeatedly there, a changing of the guards in controversial circumstances.

The founding Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, was hounded out of the EFCC until he practically self exiled to escape the wrath of the regime that succeeded President Obasanjo, and even as he is back now, he traverses the land exposed and vulnerable to the corrupt elements he dealt with, who have escaped the arm of the law and are walking as free and as powerful as the political system has made possible.

All other Chief Executives after Nuhu Ribadu have been taken down with a bitter taste in the mouth in very much the same method that is repeating itself now.

Nigeria cannot win in the end with the Ugandan changing of the guards in our EFCC.

In Ugandan changing of the guards, said a comedian acting out President Idi Amin, “the incoming lot shoot the outgoing lot!”

Dropping off over time since inception were Nuhu Ribadu, Mrs. Farida Waziri, Ibrahim Lamorde, and Ibrahim Magu who acted for 5 years and, in the end, was suspended last week to have Mohammed Umar Abba now taking charge pending the conclusion of the ongoing Justice Salami investigation.

Why is the EFCC so susceptible to burning up its CEOs time and time again?

Is it a Nigerian thing as often happens to all organisations or do we really believe that given the operation one single just individual can ever be found to fix it up?

Can EFCC be effective when corrupt politicians being investigated turn round and become key players in whichever regime EFCC is serving?

And if regimes compromise EFCC’s work to political advantage manipulated by politicians clearly under scrutiny, does that not undermine the EFCC and indeed corrupt the CEO?

In that regard, is the EFCC really a workable option or a waste of institutional effort?

Sooner than later, Nigeria must determine what is wrong between the humans and the institution, and decide which one needs fixing.

What is happening at the EFCC only suggests that President Muhammadu Buhari has not scored success with his anti-corruption fight.

Adding to the worsened situation of security in Nigeria nationwide, this can be read as a terrible blow to a regime that is halfway through its tenure, with security and the fight against corruption as its mantra.

As I pointed out weeks ago, killed demons are unexpectedly coming back to life, bigger and more ferocious, at closing time.

I think the challenge lies in the failure to first define and contextualise corruption. Do we really know what we are fighting?

The Buhari perception of corruption has looked at the spectre only in terms of primarily, the slush funds accessed from NNPC and the Abacha funds in the Central Bank shared to politicians for the reelection of President Goodluck Jonathan.

The loud pursuit of recovery was in effect a smokescreen that veiled our eyes while more treasury looting went on in our various institutions in business as usual manner as we are discovering now.

We cleared and returned “wolves to look after sheep, believing they would become vegetarian overnight”.

The altercation between Magu at the EFCC and the Department of State Security had flagged Magu as a wolf guarding our flock of recovered assets, much as EFCC had flagged other principal officers appointed in the Buhari cabinet as people of proven questionable integrity.

President Buhari, aside not bringing in new blood, failed to look for a more stainless Chief Executive for the EFCC and indeed takes full responsibility for the collapse of Magu.

Similarly, Senator Godswill Akpabio was really not one to send to a rescue mission to the Niger Delta Development Corporation given his well publicised unconcluded investigation from his tenure as Governor of Akwa Ibom State.

I think we lost the war on corruption the moment President Buhari set up a cabinet in which he was the one lone man of integrity, and to this day, is working with a National Assembly that fixed it salaries and perks against the statutes of the Revenue Mobilisation and Fiscal Commission.

We have a perfected system of funding the political process from the treasury and not from profit on turnover of productive enterprise.

The system even permits the EFCC to fund itself from recovered proceeds!

That is akin to the honey bee feeding on its honey.

All considered, I am afraid to say that we starved and even died for nothing as revelations as are being made at the EFCC, the NDDC and many other institutions only go far to show. Our corruption has been more endemic of late.

Or is it just incredible news of it? Mum cannot be the word from President Buhari.

He must speak and given all that is happening, “shake body”.

The nation needs reassurance.

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