Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC, were reported to have been engaged in a brawl with operatives of a sister agency of the federal government over their attempt to arrest some suspects in Abuja.
While the EFCC by the report is out to pursue its mandate of checking financial crime in the country and bringing those behind it to book, it is an embarrassment to Nigerians to discover that an agency of the federal government would try to prevent the EFCC from carrying out its statutory mandate just to protect certain individuals in the society.
This unfortunately spells out some of the challenges the anti-graft agency is facing in its bid to rid the country of corruption and corrupt elements.
Since the appointment of the current EFCC chairman, Ibrahim Magu, by an administration whose resolve towards exterminating corruption is well celebrated, the literal implication of the phrase, corruption fighting back began to manifest.
All of a sudden, campaigns of calumny were launched against the man at the helm of affairs of the corruption fight just to get him out of the way.
This is not without reason. Magu, who was chosen by President Muhammad Buhari to coordinate the fight against corruption, is not somebody from an unknown background but is somebody with a well-known track record of crime busting and integrity for zero tolerance to corruption.
Little wonder he was seen by those who have something to hide as the man who will expose their shady deals hence the connivance to device all means to stop him.
Attempts were made to make it impossible for him to be confirmed by the Nigerian Senate so that a more pliable person would be appointed in his stead.
When this did not work out, all manners of allegations began to be bandied about just to impugn on his character.
But Magu kept the flag flying and even with such challenges was able to carry out his job and was able to trace suspicious accounts, recover vast sums of stolen funds and make a number of arrests to bring to book suspected criminals and those who have pilfered the treasury.
Due to the renewed vigour the EFCC was pursuing its mandate, criminal elements panicked and began to abandon their loot so that for the first time in Nigeria’s history, vast sums of money were being discovered at abandoned sites.
The most celebrated ones were the ones discovered at the Kaduna airport and the one discovered at an apartment in Ikoyi, Lagos. Through the whistle-blowing policy of the federal government, the agency also recovered monies running into billions of naira.
It became obvious that the anti-graft agency is bouncing back and regaining the respect it had during the Nuhu Ribadu days.
This is why the current administration must do all it can to sustain the fight against corruption and live up to its promise to hand over to Nigerians a corrupt- free country.
Corruption is at the base of the underdevelopment in Nigeria as funds meant to expand and improve on public institutions and infrastructure are frittered away.
President Buhari has made a commitment to see that those responsible for the failure of public institutions through sleaze are checked and must not fall into the trap set by corrupt elements.
Magu’s only crime being that he wanted to bring the looters of our commonwealth to justice. Is it a crime to work assiduously for the poor masses? Is it a crime to ask that the people’s wealth be used in making life easier for them?
Nigeria needs the commitment of people like Magu now so that public institutions can begin to function again while public officials are made accountable.
Saleh Shehu Ashaka, firstname.lastname@example.org