Presidency: Magu’s Probe Shows Anti-corruption Fight is Real

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Mallam Garba Shehu

*Says ‘for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered’

Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja

The probe of the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has shown that anti-corruption fight is real, the presidency said Saturday.

Magu was accosted on the road in Abuja on Monday and shepherded before a presidential panel investigating a 21-point allegation of fraud levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami, to defend himself.

He was subsequently detained at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) while appearing before the panel during the week. His house was searched and some documents recovered.

The suspended EFCC boss, who has since remained in detention while his lawyer has filed a bail application before the Nigeria Police, was suspended on Friday by President Muhammadu Buhari pending conclusion of investigation.

In its first official reaction to the probe Saturday, the presidency said those who saw the probe of Magu as a signal that the fight against corruption was failing, had unfortunately missed the point.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Malam Garba Shehu, in a statement, said instead of looking at the probe from such a narrow perspective, it should rather be seen as a proof that the fight against corruption was real.

“There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system,” he said.

Noting that “there are no sacred cows,” he said “for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.”

Below is the full statement:

Presidency Statement on the Suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu

A series of documented allegations were made against the Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Following a preliminary review of the allegations leveled against the Ag. Chairman and several other members of his staff, there were grounds for a detailed investigation to be conducted.

Hence, an investigative panel was constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.

As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the Chief Executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the Chief Executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.

The EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.

Therefore, the suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.

The EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Mr. Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the Laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.

We must realize that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.

What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of Accountability and the recognition of the Rule of Law.

Those who see Mr. Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat.

There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system.

Under this President and Government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.

Mr. Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.

No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.

Garba Shehu
Senior Special Assistant to the President
(Media & Publicity)
July 11, 2020