The fall of Ibrahim Magu and lessons for the presidency [Pulse Editorial]

Magu's case could well be one of corruption fighting back or the tardiness that has come to characterize the Buhari presidency.

Ibrahim Magu has been suspended as EFCC boss

Operatives of the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) jumped out of their cars and engaged Magu and his team in a heated shouting match.

Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Magu, was then driven to the presidential villa for interrogation by the retired Justice Ayo Salami panel. He hasn’t been seen in public since that dramatic, humid afternoon in the nation’s capital.

Magu’s houses in Karu and Maitama have been searched by security operatives and his personal belongings have been moved out of his office space.

At the time of writing this editorial, Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has formally announced Magu’s suspension as EFCC boss, with the director of operations at the anti-graft agency, Mohammed Umar, named as his replacement.

Since he was appointed acting EFCC Chairman by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015, Magu’s reign has been dogged by controversy and allegations of corruption.

In 2016, the DSS accused Magu of living large in a N40m mansion, flying in private jets, and receiving kickbacks from persons he should be investigating for corruption.

AGF Malami who has had a running battle with Magu for as long as anyone can remember, recently sent a petition to President Buhari, accusing Magu of corruption.

Malami urged the president to sack Magu, whom he accused of insubordination and diversion of assets recovered by the EFCC.

The AGF's letter reportedly contained 22 weighty allegations that also included accounting gaps or discrepancies of figures concerning the recovered assets.

Magu has also been accused of a lack of strategy in investigations, pandering to the media in a bid to please his boss, and playing to the gallery.

Twice, Magu was sent to the Bukola Saraki-led 8th senate for confirmation. Twice he was rejected by lawmakers who submitted that he had failed the integrity test and wasn’t above board as an anti-graft czar.

Yet President Buhari kept Magu on for five years.

What has changed? Why is the presidency only just discovering what intelligence agencies and lawmakers have harped on for years?

It says a lot about the hiring, vetting, and firing process in the Buhari administration that Magu, who was arrested in 2008 following allegations that the police discovered EFCC files and a computer containing classified documents in his Abuja residence, was allowed to remain on the job for this long, amid a groundswell of corruption allegations from agencies and offices in the federal bureaucracy.

When one recalls that this is a presidency that has appointed dead persons into ministries, departments and agencies; and which has looked on unruffled in the face of growing inter-agency squabbles in the corridors of power, the shoddiness and ‘anyhowness’ of the Buhari administration becomes even more jarring and galling.

Magu is not likely to return to the EFCC in a substantive capacity and is likely to be prosecuted for his time in office.

It may also be true that he is the latest victim of the power play in the presidency and that this is yet another example of corruption fighting back.

We however hope that lessons have been learned by everyone across board as we continue what has been an unending topsy-turvy odyssey in our nascent democracy.

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