The EFCC acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, can be described as a lean, mean fighting machine as he remains undaunted in the face of political attacks and mischaracterization, writes Vanessa Obioha
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, bears the burden of a nation steeped in corruption. He will be 58 years old this year. A husband and a father of three children he understands the weight of integrity and honesty. As an accountant, he understands the sanctity of probity and transparency; and as a policeman, he walks a path of fairness and rule of law. As a mortal, he lays no claim to perfection.
Yet, where others are bent and broken, Magu stands tall, shoulder high. No; not because he is arrogant and certainly not because he is indifferent. Magu loves his country, Nigeria, and he has demonstrated that many times.
To illustrate: Between 1983 and 1986, Magu studied for a degree in Accounting at the Institute of Administration, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria graduating with a Bachelor’s of Science in Accounting and later served as the NYSC accountant at the Benue State Health Services Management Board. He was, in 1987, appointed full-time Accountant II by the Borno State government where he served in various ministries and departments, rising to become a zonal accountant.
At that point, he chose to protect and serve his fellow citizens. Having resigned from his accounting job, he joined the Nigeria Police Force as an Assistant Superintendent of Police in 1990. After some years, he moved to the then newly-established Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police Criminal Investigations Department (CID) where he served as a team leader in charge of Financial Crimes, Money Laundering and Advance Fee Fraud investigations.
Magu lives by example. He gets the job done even his avowed critics often claim he has only been successful in media trials of alleged looters, witch-hunting of political opponents of his principal. The EFCC boss knows he has a mountain to climb. He is always climbing higher, rising above every attack by his traducers. Even surprising those who are trying to pull him down.
What is undeniable is that Magu’s EFCC has done what many of his predecessors would have dreamt of accomplishing. What the often sombre-looking Magu lacks in the eloquent speech he makes up for in his record convictions of some of Nigeria’s notorious looters and fraudsters. He makes arresting and prosecuting of the nation’s criminals look easy on the eye. Yet, scrutiny of every case demonstrates the arduousness and commitment of Magu and his cohorts at the EFCC.
Appointed as the acting chairman of the anti-graft agency in November 2015, it did not take Magu long to blaze the trail so much that between November 9 and December 31, 2015, he had ensured 103 financial crime offenders were convicted.
By 2016, another set of 194 fraudsters were convicted; and the following year, 189 convictions were made in addition to billions of naira being recovered. It did not stop there: by 2018, the number of convicted criminals rose to 217.
Despite the refusal of the National Assembly to confirm his appointment as the substantive EFCC chair, Magu has continued to work harder as his team ensured that 890 people were convicted in 2019. The success of Magu’s tenure is not just about the convictions: tens of billions of naira have been recovered besides properties such as filling stations, lands, real estate, petroleum products, jewellery, automobiles, vessels, hospitals, company shares, heavy machines, and broadcast equipment among others were recovered by the commission between 2015 and 2018. Between January 2018 and August 2019, the commission recovered N108 billion; $106,516,222; $1,635,925; and £629,193 pounds and €25,575.
The fear of Magu is the beginning of wisdom for Nigeria’s serving and erstwhile state governors. The reason is not farfetched.
During his time as governor, Joshua Dariye was arrested along in London, England on 20 January 2004, with large sums of money. He was accused of stealing about $9 million of public funds and money laundering. EFCC, in 2007, preferred 23 counts of money laundering involving alleged diversion of about N1.126 billion Plateau State government’s ecological funds against him. An Abuja High Court in 2018 sentenced Dariye to 14 years’ imprisonment (later reduced to 10 years) on the charges of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of funds (N1.6 billion) while he was governor.
Former governor of Taraba State, Jolly Nyame, was sentenced last year to 14 years’ imprisonment for his acts of criminal breach of trust and misappropriation of the sum of N1.64 billion belonging to the state.
Then entered erstwhile Abia State governor and President Muhammadu Buhari’s ally, Orji Uzor Kalu. He was convicted by the Lagos Division of the Federal High Court on Thursday, 5 December 2019 and sentenced to 12 years in prison for N7.65 billion fraud, among other multiple sentences ranging from three years to five years on 27 counts.
For Magu to be appointed as the substantive chairman of EFCC will rather be over the dead body of some individuals. What matters, however, to Magu is getting the country’s looters behind bars and recovering the nation’s stolen wealth.
Magu knew what he signed for when he was seconded to the newly-established Economic EFCC in May 2003 where he was appointed its pioneer head of administration and finance, later heading the Economic Governance Section of the agency, dealing with general investigations, financial crimes and money laundering in both the public and private sector. He was promoted to chief superintendent of police (CSP) in 2003.
In 2009, Magu was redeployed to the Nigeria Police Force and posted to State Criminal Investigations Department Ekiti State Police Command as its deputy head. He also served in the Anti-Fraud Investigations Section of the Force Criminal Investigations Department between 2010 and 2012; and was also the Second-in-Command, Special Investigation Bureau (SIB), Nigeria Police Force Headquarters.
Magu was promoted assistant commissioner of police in September 2012 before he was redeployed to the EFCC as the deputy director, Directorate of Professional Responsibility and served on 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.
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. Magu who is currently a Deputy Commissioner of Police was appointed acting Chairman of the EFCC on November 9, 2015. No doubt that Magu deserves confirmation as EFCC Chairman. Liking him or hate him, his record speaks eloquently for his achievements.