The Anti-Climax of the Anti-Corruption War: Magu as a Metaphor (Part 2)


Last week, we commenced this piece. We shall end it today, even though there is still much more to say about the anti-climax of this Government’s anti-corruption war.

Magu’s Two-time Rejection as the Substantive Chairman of the EFCC
Some Nigerians had erroneously believed that Ibrahim Magu, erstwhile Chairman of the EFCC, was a god. Or something close to a deity. Why not? He behaved like one. Magu was all-in-all to this Government. He carried himself haughtily, with the lordly and supercilious swagger of a proud peacock. He was responsible to no one. Not even to Mr President. His mere shadow bludgeoned and terrorised politicians, rights activists, critics and Government dissenters. Even workers under him, cringed like slaves at his sight. He was Lord of the manor, an Emperor in the form of Louis IV of France, who once stood in front of Parliament and imperiously declared, “L ‘etat c’est moi” (I am the State). His scowling and grimacing gorgon and hobgoblin face supported by a shining bald head, sent suspects and EFCC invitees to hospital beds with shivers. Blood pressure rose geometrically. He once unapologetically, sweepingly called all Lawyers and Judges corrupt. He said Lawyers are “rogues and vultures”. He spared no one, with his acidic and sulphurous tongue. He daringly lashed at everyone, even members of the infamous cabal. He spat on the face of the Senate, for daring to reject him the first and second time. He derided the DSS for doing its work and writing a damming report about him, a report that said Magu had “failed the integrity test.” His fawners, flatterers, grovellers, bootlickers, all defended him. They said Magu was not corrupt. He was not even corruptible. He was a saint, an angel, sent from God’s own celestial Kingdom. Magu held every one to ransom. He held Nigeria by the jugular. His word was law. The Constitution and EFCC (Establishment) Act of 2004, meant nothing to him. My pen had dripped oceans of ink on the crude methods and unconventional ways employed by Magu, in fighting corruption. One of such was a piece I wrote on 15th March, 2017, almost 2 and half years ago. I have been vindicated by events and history. As always. Now, kindly read the said write-up:

“The Legal and Moral Issues of the Second and Final Rejection of the Confirmation of Magu as EFCC Chairman”
“Going by Section 2(1) and 2(3) of the EFCC Act, he ceases to be the Executive Chairman. Having left his “acting” position during his proposal to the Senate, he also loses his “acting” capacity. It is simply a bad case. The Senate is the only repository of confirmatory powers of the EFCC Chairman. And it has spoken. That is the beauty of the doctrine of separation of powers between the three arms of government, the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary, as ably propounded by Baron de Montesquieu in 1748. Magu’s problem is self-inflicted from within the APC ruling party itself, that is also not comfortable with the way he has carried on with his functions. The worm that kills the maize, is right inside the maize. His tenure should have nothing to do with efficiency and effectiveness alone, which he apparently possesses.

“The role of the number one anti-Corruption Czar, should be more. It should also embody the finest and most edifying virtues of nobility in terms of observance of citizens’ fundamental rights, and the all-important rule of law concept. The anti- corruption war has so far been fought without a human face, in the crudest, most bizarre, most discriminatory and most degrading manner that diminishes the humanity and respectability of Nigerians, and brings us back into the Hobesian state of nature where life was solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short. The anti-corruption fight has been fought in the most opaque, selective, bestial and humiliating manner, devoid of any scintilla or modicum of decency and respect for our collective and individual civil liberties and freedoms. It has all but reduced Nigeria to a one-Party State, with everyone decamping to APC, because once you do that, you are immediately and automatically protected from the inquisition of EFCC and like Naaman the leper who dipped himself into River Jordan seven times and became cleansed of his leprosy, such a decampee is immediately cleansed of his political leprosy and antecedental criminality. EFCC has been acting outside of and above the Law, contrary to its motto, using the most detestable, unorthodox, arm-twisting and extra-legal tactics to intimidate, humiliate and bamboozle hapless opponents, critics of Government, opposition elements, and critical voices of reason and dissension. It should never be as bad as this.

“Buhari can no longer re-present Magu’s name again, because of the serious moral burden, ethical challenges and legal impediments thus imposed on him with this second definitive rejection; this time after a full screening. Re-presenting his name will raise more questions than answers as to why the insistence on one man. This is unlike the first instance, when Senate merely turned him down without any screening. That it was done shortly after the celebrated arrival of President Buhari from his medical vacation abroad makes it more interesting and more significant, as it underlines the independence of the Legislature, the Senate. It is high time PMB looked for another competent Nigerian, out of about 180 million people in population. After all, there was once a Nuhu Ribadu, a Mrs Waziri and a Mr Ibrahim Lamorde. Like the cliche goes, “soldier go, soldier come, Barracks remain”.

Don’t Crucify Magu Unheard
Many Nigerians, including Magu’s own staff, are currently back-slapping themselves and jubilating over his present travails. I am not. I will not, even though, he viciously came after me for criticising him and his ways. I do not salivate over people’s problems. Because, no one knows tomorrow. But, Magu overdid things. He went too far. He crossed the Bar. He was egged on. The Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) did not help matters. A Committee that was supposed to act as Guardian – Angel and Philosopher – King (acting discreetly, seen, but not heard), trenchantly defended Magu’s blatant transgressions. One PACAC member, in a frenzy, publicly stated that anyone accused of corruption should simply be shot dead without trial, because the anti-corruption fight was a “roforo” fight that admits of no legal niceties such as observance of citizens’ fundamental rights, due process or the Rule of Law. Assumed or self-christened “constitutional Lawyers”, emergency “rights activists” (who know nothing about our years of bloody and agonising struggles in the trenches, for the heart and soul of beleaguered Nigeria), were recruited to defend Magu, whom they said could do no wrong.

They even said Magu was indispensable. Because he was fighting corruption. Only Magu could fight corruption. Any criticism of his unconscionable and unorthodox arm-twisting methods was met with the refrain, “corruption is fighting back”. I refused to buy such crap, bunkum, drivel. I refused to be intimidated, or brow-beaten.
These supporters argued that Magu could stay in office forever, notwithstanding that the Senate had twice rejected him. They relied, basking in intellectual dishonesty, on irrelevant and inapplicable Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution that empowers the President to employ dispensable Ministers and aides, as against the clear provisions of Section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, which makes it mandatory for the Senate to confirm Magu’s appointment by Mr President, before he could continue to act.

“EFCC v AGF Face off: When the Tail Wags the Dog”
In my Sunday Telegraph Column of 9th August, 2017, (3 years ago) I wrote another piece with the above heading. I said as follows:
“I am not surprised that the EFCC has scornfully and disdainfully refused to forward to the Attorney-General of the Federation, the outcome of investigations of high profile corruption cases with the recommendations thereon. The EFCC has since become an island on to itself, no doubt, a country within a country, like the Papacy, which is recognised by the UN, as a Nation within Italy, another nation. It has since behaved, acted and lived above the laws of the land, contrary to its moto, “No one is above the Law”. Like witches and wizards whose activities are shrouded in eerie secrecy in covens, the EFCC has carried on without accounting and answering to anyone. It does not obey legislative queries or resolutions of the bicameral National Assembly (Senate and House of Representatives). It defies court orders, with imperious impunity and ridicule. Now, it has carried the battle to the remaining 3rd arm of Government, the very Executive, of which it actually forms a part and parcel. To continue to defy the AGF, the EFCC must first amend the 1999 Constitution, to enable it usurp and appropriate the powers of the AGF clearly spelt out in Section 174 of the 1999 Constitution. This section donates to the AGF, absolute powers to institute, take over or discontinue any criminal proceedings in Nigeria, subject to certain constitutional imperatives, which do not however, concern the EFCC. The EFCC which is clearly under the supervisory jurisdiction of the office AGF, does not possess such powers. This Government has turned everything upside down. It is so pitiable! The EFCC in an unholy alliance with the power drunk, dictatorial and unpretentious PACAC (Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption), has since usurped the powers of the AGF under the Constitution. The EFCC is therefore, not only breaching Section 10 of the EFCC Regulations, 2010, but is actually subverting the Nigerian Constitution in a most flagrant manner. This is impunity in its naked form, and crass constitutional aberration, both of which signposts the worst forms of corruption. The falcon can no longer hear the falconer, and mere anarchy has been loosened upon the world. I weep for Nigeria, my beloved motherland.

“Questions, Questions, Questions”
In my un-replied letter to Professor Yemi Osinbajo, SAN (then Acting President) on 31st May, 2017, I had written as follows, amongst others:

“Are the serial “discoveries” by EFCC of abandoned and orphaned monies in shops, airports, plazas, high brow apartments, forests, cemeteries, etc, not simply a case of Professor Peller’s abracadabra magic of “the more you look, the less you see”? Do these constitute grand attempts by Government to cover up its own indicted officials, thus, “fighting” their corruption with sweet smelling Sasarobia perfume, whilst fighting the opposition, critical voices and other Nigerians’ alleged “corruption” with pesticides, herbicides and insecticides? Is this not a classical case of double standards, massive covers-up, and grand deception of Nigerians? Do we now have two sets of laws, one separate for members of the ruling party, and another for the opposition, critical voices and other Nigerians? Are Nigerians not already pained and humiliated enough with deaths, hunger, degradation, marginalisation, disrespect, humiliation, poor infrastructure, poverty, penury, intimidation, haplessness and disillusionment, to have this constant circus foisted on them?” (End).

“Corruption is the enemy of development, and of good governance. It must be got rid of. Both the government and the people at large, must come together to achieve this national objective.” (Pratibha Patil).