Abimbola Adelakun’s “The Real Trouble With Magu” in her Thursday, March 5, 2020 Back Page Column in The PUNCH, came as a rude shock. For a national newspaper with the history and mileage of The PUNCH, such a libelous, defamatory and uncouth characterisation of the Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic And Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, as a “dingbat”, “dim-witted” and “he did not get his job by merit” by a columnist that knows next to nothing about the operational technicalities of the EFCC and the resourcefulness of its Chief Executive, is not only brazen but tragic display of ignorance.
Admittedly, Mr. Magu made a metaphorical allusion to the dreaded coronavirus in his speech at the Passing Out Parade (POP) of Detective Inspector Course Five at the Nigerian Defence Academy, Kaduna, as being a trickle-down effect of poorly- managed health care system. His inferential linkage of the disease with the menace of corruption was not “banalisation of corruption by relating it to unfortunate circumstances”, as claimed by Adelakun, but figurative emphasis of the dastardly dimension and monstrous proportion the scourge of corruption has assumed in our nation.
Incidentally, Mr Magu’s experiences as a world- renowned anti- graft fighter puts him in better stead to know the dimension which corruption has placed Nigeria as a country and his unequivocal comparison of the pestilential affliction which coronavirus represents with corruption.
Like every well- meaning Nigerian, Abimbola Adelakun has every right to disagree with the EFCC Chairman on his views on anti-corruption fight, but such disagreement should never assume the degree of libel, defamation of character, derogation and indecency that she demonstrated in her jaundiced opinion.
It is preposterous and patently libellous for Adelakun to recklessly impugn the hard-earned integrity of Mr Magu and maliciously assert that Magu “ did not get his job on merit”.
It may be appropriate to ask: What does Adelakun know about economic and financial crimes in the first instance? What does she know about investigation of such crimes? How equipped is she to know whether Mr. Magu got his job on merit or not? What empirical facts are available to her to evaluate the performance of the EFCC boss on his job? Is Adelakun more adequately informed about law enforcement and anti- corruption fight than the United States Federal Bureau of Investigations, FBI, Metropolitan Police, Scotland Yard, International Police and other global agencies that have always scored the EFCC under Magu’s watch highly? Is the ability to string sentences together in the name of column writing enough competence for her to primitively adjudge a crack detective like Mr. Magu unfit for his job?
It is incredible to read such a libelous and defamatory posers like: “ How did it happen that someone so lacking in elemental knowledge superintends the anti-corruption initiative in Nigeria?”
“He did not get his job on merit, he knows his assessment for his continued fit for that office is not based on superior achievements and, therefore, he has no motivation whatsoever to improve his intellect.”
But the facts available in the public domain about Mr. Magu’s breath-taking achievements so far in EFCC make such a surmise by Adelakun baseless and empty.
Today, the EFCC is the leading anti- corruption agency in Africa. Several corruption- bursting agencies across Africa have had their officers trained by the EFCC. The record of convictions and recoveries made so far under Magu’s watch is simply unprecedented. Only on Tuesday, the FBI gave an Award of Excellence to Magu, following the collaboration between the EFCC and the FBI in “Operation Rewired”, aimed at tackling the menace of Cybercrimes, especially the Business Email Compromise (BEC).
It is instructive to state that under Magu’s watch, the EFCC secured unprecedented convictions as follows : 2015-103; 2016- 195; 2017- 190; 2018-314; 2019- 1,281 and 2020- 122 and we are still counting.
A large number of choice properties have been recovered from looters while billions of naira, millions of dollars, pounds sterlings and other foreign currencies were recovered and forfeited to the federal government.
Do these records suggest that the EFCC’s helmsman lacks elemental knowledge?
It is absurd for Adelakun and her sponsors, no matter their grievances, to cast aspersions on the leadership of the country. Adelakun further took her reckless commentaries to a far more objectionable degree by taking up issues with President Muhammadu Buhari in her desperate bid to splash mud on the EFCC’s Chairman. Hear her: “No idea is so stupid that it cannot be passed off with Buhari as long as you blame it on corruption”.
Does Adelakun think that President Buhari does not know what it takes to combat corrupt practices? Adelakun’s insulting incursions into the capabilities of key figures in the President’s cabinet are regrettably insulting.
According to her, “It should be a thing of wonder that a single administration like this present regime managed to headhunt, appoint, and retain people who have such a moronic grasp of their jobs. But no, all of that idiocy is pretty consistent with the character of the government that hired them”. This is simply unconscionable and unacceptable. There is no intellectuality of any form in any kind of generalisation. For the information of Adelakun and her sponsors, Mr. Magu comes top as one figure in Nigeria that not only knows his onions, but has become a nightmare to every corrupt Nigerian.
The commission is quite aware that the attack from a character like Adelakun is part of sponsored smear campaigns to tarnish the hard-earned integrity of Mr Magu and the commission . But the EFCC would not be deterred in its work by the effusion of ignorance expressed in what should be an otherwise professional medium like The PUNCH.
To rein in every submission on this issue, Magu has no trouble of any kind. He is a seasoned investigator and accomplished anti-corruption czar doing his best to salvage terrible situations caused by corrupt practices in Nigeria.
His team comprises the best and brightest we can get anywhere in the country. To even think that Adelakun does not know the profile of the media handlers of Mr. Magu is another ridiculous portrayal of her shallowness.
Can you imagine a former correspondent with The PUNCH before becoming a columnist saying this to her senior colleagues: “Magu’s rather tepid speech about corruption suggests that he is not only defective, he is also surrounded by mediocre speech writers who operate on the same wavelength of intellection as he does and will not risk self-improvement lest they outshine their boss.”
Throwing a jab at those who could teach her the mechanics of column writing is an unintelligent cut and shameful.
I also wish to state with high sense of responsibility that Adelakun lacks the authority to rubbish the achievements of the EFCC under Magu’s watch.
For the avoidance of doubt, delivery of speech cannot be used to measure the effectiveness of the war against corruption and cast aspersion on the remarkable records the Commission has painstakingly made in the last four years.
Nigerians should know that Adelakun’s postulation is another inventing form of corruption fighting back, using the platform of ignorance and sheer mischief.
Be that as it may, Adelakun has crossed the red line and the EFCC will definitely meet her and The PUNCH in court on the facts that have emboldened her to claim that Magu is not fit for his job. An immediate retraction of her libellous and defamatory words may save the day for her and the newspaper . For now, Mr Magu remains unfazed and focussed on winning the war against corrupt practices, including correcting ignorant columnists like Abimbola Adelakun.
Tony Amokeodo is the Special Assistant to the Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).