Mr. Ibrahim Magu was appointed the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crime s Commission (EFCC) on November 11, 2015. He was the second-in-command, Special Investigation Bureau (SIB), Nigeria Police Force Headquarters, and later promoted to the rank of assistant commissioner of police in September 2012. He posted briefly to Anambra State Police Command as Assistant Commissioner of Police (Operations), before he was redeployed to the EFCC as the Deputy Director, Directorate of Internal Affairs (DIA). Magu, who served as a member of the Presidential Investigation Committee on the Procurement of Firearms from 2007 to 2015, was promoted to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police in June, 2016. In the international sphere, Magu has interfaced with the United States Postal Service, the FBI, the US Department of Homeland Security, the US Securities and Exchange Commission, the US Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FINCEN), the South African Anti-corruption Unit (Scorpion) and the Hong Kong Anti-corruption Agency, on trainings 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 and the Halliburton investigations. In May, 2018, he was promoted to the rank of commissioner of police. In this interview with Kingsley Nwezeh, Magu dwells on issues affecting the anti-corruption fight of the President Muhammadu Buhari administration
How are you coping with the challenge of funding required to cover EFCC’s operations, training and manpower requirements, expansion of offices in the states and foreign operations?
What has been evident in the past four years is the political will of President Muhammadu Buhari not only to fight corruption to a standstill but to also provide the necessary support required for us to carry out effectively our mandate of ridding Nigeria of corruption. He has also given us the independence and liberty to carry out our duties. Invariably, while there will always be challenges, Mr. President has been very supportive and this also comes to play in terms of financing. Take for instance the new ultra-modern Head Office Complex from where we now operate in Abuja, the financial support of President Buhari made it a reality. For a long time the site was in a despondent state as there was very little funding from the previous administrations. For a while, many had given up on its completion. But here we have a world-class structure that can favourably be placed side by side counterpart law enforcement agencies in the world. So under the administration of President Buhari, support including funding, has been most encouraging.
Are there any parts of the EFCC statute that you want reviewed?
Review of the EFCC Act is not particularly my responsibility. What I believe we need most is an enabling environment to operate, and like I said earlier, this enabling environment has been provided by Mr. President. However, any further legislation that will make our job easier will be welcome.
Would you honestly say that EFCC is free from executive interference?
Yes, and emphatically so. The government of President Buhari has not interfered in our operations. We are prosecuting a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation. We are prosecuting high ranking military officers. We are prosecuting former state governors and getting them convicted. Don’t also forget, the convicted former governors are of the ruling party- talking of former Governor Joshua Dariye of Plateau and Jolly Nyame of Taraba States. So, no interference whatsoever. Not at all.
You said recently that some banks and NGOs aid money laundering and terrorism? What sustainable counter-measures are you putting in place to halt it?
We are engaging the necessary stakeholders and have sent out a very strong message that perpetrators will not be spared. We are also beaming our searchlight on them. Those who default, especially in reporting suspicious transactions, will be dealt with. And we are serious about that.
EFCC has been criticised for going mainly after opposition figures. What is your position?
It’s not true. Absolutely untrue. The facts are out there. Our fight against corruption has no party colouration. As long as you are found to be culpable, we go after you. Whether you are in Party A or Party B. What you must understand is that we carry out thorough investigation, which takes not less than three months, sometimes, years, such that, by the time we invite you or charge you to court, we have a water-tight case against you. Like I said earlier, two governors of the ruling party are in jail today. Are they in opposition party?
The commission has also received several rebukes from judges on your style of investigation and prosecution. What is your view?
I disagree with you. On several occasions, our prosecutors have been highly commended by judges across the country. We can’t be getting the number of convictions we get if we have not been doing a thorough and professional job. For the avoidance of doubt, you may wish to know that as at first week of June this year, the commission has recorded over 400 convictions. Our prosecutors have severally received commendations from judges for their thorough and intelligent presentations in the courtroom, especially when placed side-by-side with operatives of other law enforcement agencies. Having said that, we are continuously working on building the capacity of our staff in all areas. There was a recent training by the UK National Crimes Agency to equip our staff in the area of investigation and also forensics. It will interest you to know that indeed, the EFCC has effectively changed the negative narrative of pervasive corruption in the Nigerian public and private spheres, and altered the general perception that there are some people, who are above the Law in the country. This is no doubt evident in the about 1,292 convictions secured in the past four years as at June 2019. Slowly, but steadily, the EFCC has continued to change the narrative of criminal prosecution, altering the general perception in the country that some persons, especially politically exposed persons (PEPs), are above the law. The cliché that the Nigerian law is too weak to “catch” the strong and too strong to “catch” only the weak has also been literally demystified. And, in a clime, where conviction returns for many law enforcement agencies have been meagre and miserly, the EFCC has continued to up the ante in criminal prosecution in Nigeria. In the area of recovery, I can tell you categorically that the commission in the last four years, has recouped into the nation’s treasury, humongous amount of money that hitherto would have gone into private pockets. The breakdown shows that the total financial recovery in 2015 stood at N33,180,830,789.62; $42,917,204.75; £147,100.00; €832,237.28; CFA86,500.00 and RMB3,588.00. In 2016, the total recoveries, beginning with the local currency was N170,276,862,879.93; $69,142,551.39; £44,785.00; €56,470; CAD$117,004.00; Dirham8,775.00; ¥120,141.50; Franc5,000.00; Rupees2,000.00 and Sr20,456.00. In 2017, total cash recoveries beginning with the local currency stood at N473,065,195,977.50; $142,504,121.12; £294,851.82; €7,247,363.75; Dirham443,400.00 and Sr70,500.00. In 2018, total cash recoveries, beginning with the local currency stood at N216,454,497,764.25. (of this figure, N4,293,725,625.27 was fuel subsidy recovery); $67,290,174.49, £873,278.09; €298,055.00; Ry391,838.00 and Dirham10,135.00. It will also interest you to know that within the first four months of 2019 (January to April), cash recoveries in local currency stood at N3,223,074,849.15 and additional N2,751,688,974.34 in draft; $310,718.00; £13,500.00; €700 and a total of N5,566,392,675.05 in direct deposit.
How does the EFCC hope to improve on pre-election and election monitoring in view of your role in the last election?
We have already started work in this area. You will recall that for the first time in the history of Nigeria’s electoral process, operatives of the EFCC effectively monitored the voting process and this helped to stem the ugly trend of bribery during the just concluded election. Talking about pre-election, we engaged and sensitised stakeholders in the financial sector- bankers as well as Bureau De Change operators as part of efforts to check illicit financial flows. Today, while investigation is ongoing in some cases, we already have convictions in the area of vote buying.
What is EFCC’s level of collaboration with other security agencies?
Our level of collaboration with sister security agencies, both within and outside Nigeria, is excellent. We have had several causes to collaborate and work together; we enjoy good measure of collaboration, because what matters most is for the fight against corruption to be won. It is a must.
Are you satisfied with the administration of justice in Nigeria going by your experience so far?
It’s a work in progress.
What is the status of the EFCC Academy?
The EFCC Academy has been fully operational and has hosted local and international trainings, meetings, conferences, workshops and summits. We are also working towards elevating it to a Monotechnic. Efforts are in the pipeline to achieve this. You will also recall that the commission has secured acres of land for the expansion of the academy in Nasarawa State.