By Ajogwu Jerry Ochada
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established by the Olusegun Obasanjo led administration owing to the growing cases of financial fraud by an act in 2003. It was established partially in response to pressure from the Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering (FATF), which named Nigeria as one of 23 countries non-cooperative in the international community’s efforts to fight money laundering.
From inception, the commission has been able to fight cases of corruption especially by public officers because just like the eagle’s eye which is the logo of the anti-graft agency the impact is far-reaching, leaving many citizens with fewer options than to avoid fraudulent activities even though crime cannot be trashed in totality especially at the corridors of power.
Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, a Deputy Commissioner of Police assumed duties as the helmsman of the commission in an acting capacity on the on November 9, 2015, amidst controversies that nearly sunk his career. A career he built over the years and built a niche for himself. Magu was promoted Assistant Commissioner of Police in September 2012 and posted briefly to Anambra State Command as Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), before he was redeployed to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as the Deputy Director, Directorate of Professional Responsibility. He attended several courses, seminars and workshops notably on Anti-Money Laundering courses with the Federal Bureau of Investigations; Anti-Terrorism and Combating the Financing of Terrorism with the United State Department of Justice, United States Department of Homeland Security, amongst others.
He served in various Committees and participated in a number of ad hoc assignments which include Technical Committee on the Establishment of the Nigeria Finance Intelligence Unit; member, Federation Accounts Allocation Committee; member Presidential Task Force on the Decongestion of Eastern Ports; member, Federal Government Committee on Cyber Security Legislation in Nigeria. Magu is currently a member of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the Procurement of Firearms from 2007 – 2015.
At the International sphere, Magu has engaged with the United States Postal Inspection Service, the FBI, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Financial Crime Enforcement Unit (FINCENT), the South African Anti-Corruption Unit (Scorpion) and the Hong Kong Anti-Corruption Agency, on training and/or joint investigations. He has also collaborated with the Metropolitan Police, London, Her Majesty’s Customs and Excise and Scotland Yard. He worked with the United States government in the WILBROS Bribery Investigation, the Halliburton Investigations. He has also closely worked with the CBN, Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), the Nigeria Customs Service, the Nigeria Finance Intelligence Unit, Department of State Services, Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC), the Code of Conduct Bureau and the Nigeria Police.
Wielding a stern look, it is believed that Magu is feared more than Ribadu, who was removed as the anti-graft czar in controversial circumstances in 2007 by the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. Ribadu was understood to be a victim of the power play as Yar’Adua political associates, led by James Ibori, former governor of Delta state, sought to castrate the agency. Ibori later served a jail term in the UK.
Not only was Ribadu removed from the commission through a controversial re-posting and an order to proceed to the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS), his core team was effectively dismantled.
Ibrahim Lamorde, who was removed by President Muhammadu Buhari under similar circumstances perhaps guilty of same crimes with his predecessor.
Prior to Ibrahim Magu’s appointed as the acting chairman of the EFCC, he was appointed by the present administration to investigate the purchase of arms by the armed forces under President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration, one of the reasons adduced for his hatred in many quarters because he stepped on the toes of the acclaimed cabals and superpowers. The 14-man panel is investigating how some of the retired military chiefs spent the votes for arms while they were in office.
Among other tasks, the panel was empowered to investigate a $466.5m contract to weaponise six Puma helicopters by Jonathan administration; N3billion contract for the supply of six units of K-38 patrol boats to the disbanded Presidential Implementation Committee on Maritime Security (PICOMSS) and theft of over €200m by PICOMMS, including the purchase of two private jets.
Other allegations were that needed clarity was the $9.3m cash-for-arms deal seized by South Africa; whereabouts of $1billion loan approved by the 7th senate for arms purchase to fight Boko Haram; what became of unaccessed N7b budget for the military and the contract for the rehabilitation of the Military Reference Hospital in Kaduna.
Amidst controversies and counter-reactions by the Nigerian Senate, rejecting his nomination as the Chairman of the Commission, Ibrahim Magu has remained in office three years after his appointment by the present administration and has survived numerous schemes threatening his removal from office. The EFCC cat with nine lives is waxing stronger as he seems not to be perturbed by the hullabaloo of his detractors. Recently, he was quoted as saying he was not disturbed remaining as the Acting Chairman of the Commission. In other words, his yet to be confirmed status is not affecting his disposition to duties.
According to available report, Over N500bn has been recovered from over 703 convictions in the last three years by the agency, while the impunity with which public funds are stolen has been curtailed substantially as people have come to the realisation that there are consequences if one is found to have illegally dipped hands in the public till. The ground-breaking conviction record of the commission has recorded bigger feats under Magu, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Joseph Nwobike once fell into the traps of the EFCC and was prosecuted accordingly. Also, for the first time, judges and top military officers including retired Service Chiefs are being prosecuted for corrupt enrichment. Recall that a former Governor of Plateau state and a serving Senator, Joshua Dariye is presently serving his jail term after facing indictment by the commission.
How Magu managed to secure his post is not a mystery because he was able to prove his enemies wrong through his professional conducts and convictions that he is equal to the task protecting the countries funds from the lurking vultures and evolved a pragmatic approach to counter cyber crime which is gradually declining in the country. The cat seems to be scaling through the hurdles with ease but he who wears the shoes knows where it pinches.