Anti-corruption Coalition: Magu Probe Partly Responsible for Nigeria’s Poor TI Rating

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Ibrahim Magu

A coalition of anti-corruption groups in Europe and Nigeria has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to release the report of the panel set up to investigate the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.

In July 2020, Magu was arrested and probed over allegations of gross misconduct and abuse of power.

He was later suspended by the president and has since been replaced by the Director of Operations at the agency, Mr. Umar Mohammed.

The panel headed by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami had probed the allegations against Magu and recommended his sack.

In its report submitted on November 20, the panel asked the president to appoint a new EFCC chairman in an interim position for two years.

But in a letter addressed to Buhari, the anti-corruption coalition expressed concern over political interference in the operations of the EFCC.

It said the inability of the federal government to release the panel report on Magu months after the panel ended its sitting is partly responsible for the recent drop in Nigeria’s anti-corruption rating by Transparency International.

According to the groups — HEDA Resource Centre, Global Witness, Re:Common, and The Corner House — the failure of the federal government to release the report suggests that the probe was a witch-hunt.

The petition signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, Simon Taylor, Luca Manes and Nicholas Hildyard, said the secrecy around the panel’s report is aimed at halting the works of Magu.

The coalition said no charge has been brought against Magu, whose tenure, they described as “an exemplary period that restored confidence in Nigeria’s commitment to fighting graft”.

It called on Buhari to make sure justice is served by ensuring that Magu is charged to court if guilty or reinstated if found innocent.

“As the legal maxim goes, “Justice delayed, is justice denied”. If Magu has a case to answer, then let him be charged before a court and given the opportunity to defend himself in public. If there is no case to answer, then justice demands that he be reinstated,” the coalition said.

“Indeed, every day that passes without a decision being made on his fate chips another block off Nigeria’s reputation for upholding the rule of law. This not only raises questions about Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight, but has strongly suggested to the international community that Nigeria’s fight is not, in the end, serious – that instead, progress can only be made against small targets, and that once the “important” begins to be held to account, the lackies of the corrupt will be permitted to sabotage due process, absent even the semblance of any subtlety.

“For the sake of Nigeria and the reputation of your Presidency, we again unequivocally urge you to weigh in and see that justice is not only done but, seen to be done in this matter.”