War on Graft: As Magu’s Probe Lingers

by Jude Obuseh

In case Nigerians are gradually forgetting, the probe of the affairs of the country’s apex anti-graft body, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), under the stewardship of its suspended Tsar, Ibrahim Magu, by a Federal Judicial Commission of Enquiry, Headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (Rtd) is still ongoing. Magu is being investigated on allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of assets recovered from indicted looters of the country’s commonwealth.

Magu’s probe commenced sequel to a memo from the office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to the Presidency, following which he was arrested and subsequently suspended by the President from heading the EFFC, pending the conclusion of investigations into the weighty allegations against him. He was, however, let out on bail following an application by his legal team.

Since his release, Magu, through his lawyers, has continued to maintain his innocence of all the allegations leveled against him, calling them trumped up charges that were intended to malign his person and truncate the federal government’s anti-graft efforts, challenging anyone with verifiable proof of his alleged involvement in any corrupt practice to come forth with such evidence.

IMPLICATION: Magu’s ongoing probe has three major implications for the country’s war on corruption, the first being that it gives some form of credibility to President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war, despite the widespread pessimism that has trailed it since inception, as for the first time in the country’s history, the head of an anti-corruption body is being indicted for his alleged involvement in corrupt practices during his tenure in office. This could be a precedent that would help define the country’s future anti-graft efforts.

However, on the flip-side of the coin, the development is indicative of the deeply flawed tilt of the Buhari administration’s anti-graft efforts and the deep-seated nature of the phenomenon in the system. That the head of a major anti-sleaze body is being suspected of gross wrongdoing in the discharge of his duties is a serious indictment on the war efforts; a bold question mark on the sincerity of the efforts ab initio.

Again, the implication of the saga on the country’s external image is highly instructive here as the international community  is closely monitoring the progress of the investigations, the outcome of which will ultimately determine the seriousness the country’s much vaunted anti-corruption war will be viewed afterwards. The country still ranks very high on the global corruption index.

WAY FORWARD: The allegations against Magu are very weighty indeed and must be investigated to a logical conclusion. No stone should be left unturned in getting to the root of the visceral issues raised by Magu’s accusers. All possible encumbrances to the speedy conclusion of the investigations should be removed from the path of the panel.

Again, anybody indicted by the investigative panel, whether Magu or other EFCC bigwigs, or any other prominent Nigerian for that matter, whether in public office or not, should be speedily and emphatically prosecuted, and if found guilty made to bear the full brunt of the law to serve as deterrent to would-be offenders. The traditional practice in the past when such matters were swept under the carpet should be jettisoned for a more objective, transparent, result-oriented approach this time around.

Again, President Buhari owes it to Nigerians and the watching world to bring closure to the Magu saga in other to justify his much trumpeted commitment to the war on corruption, which formed one of the prime planks on which he won two successive terms as President of the of Federal Republic of Nigeria.  All eyes are on him!

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