“Let me be a grass in the meadow matching heads with others to repel oppressive storms”
–Niyi Osundare in Village voices
By CHIDI OBINECHE
On November 11, 2015, Ibrahim Magu assumed control of Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption outfit, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. It was a long, pernicious walk from the incandescent precincts of the shadows. As one of the early recruits into the EFCC, the trained financial crimes investigator with background in forensic accounting and training at the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigations) Institute, and the London Metropolitan Institute has seen the grill of the low and the enchantment of the high.
On August 4, 2008, he was picked up for questioning and detained following allegations that police discovered EFCC files and a computer containing classified documents in his Abuja residence. He was subsequently redeployed to the police and suspended, without pay for several months. His immediate predecessor in office, Ibrahim Lamorde who held his exploits in great esteem as the head of the much respected Economic Governance Unit, (EGU) of the commission under Nuhu Ribadu, demanded for his return to EFCC when he became the chairman. In a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on March 19, 2012, Lamorde also asked for more “courageous and incorruptible officers.” Curiously, his name was missing in the list sent to the IGP for confirmation.
The intervention of ex- president Goodluck Jonathan saved the day for Magu. The EFCC under him today bounced back into ultra- activism. Last week, the economic crime bursting czar slipped into a storm that has drawn some grime and grit in him. He raised the alarm that some forces were spreading campaigns of calumny and misinformation in the social media designed to tarnish his image and impugn his integrity.
The mischief makers, according to him, were hell- bent on causing disaffection between him and the Presidency on one hand, and members of staff of the EFCC on the other hand. He squirmed; “ In the last week or so, the social media has been awash with fictitious reports, all painting an uncanny picture of desperation by Magu over his purported non-confirmation as substantive chair of the EFCC, and of stricture within the rank and file of the EFCC workforce, leading to resignations.” He stoutly denounced the portrayal, saying he does not “bully anyone, and has not embarked on any mission aimed at blackmailing “some highly placed personalities in the country, such as Emirs, President Muhammadu Buhari’s appointees, or any other individual, lowly or highly placed in the society.
Magu, took exception to the allusion to “bullying and victimization” of EFCC staff, which he feared was tailored to instigate the workers against him. Saying that there were no resignations of “senior EFCC core staff, he also deplored the claim that he set up a sensitive unit to bug the “phone lines of some persons”. Instructively, Magu may have again walked into the dense patch of putrid with its stench. Undeniably, crime busters the world over are never buddies of the people. Conversely, they are like the scorched earth of the hillocks men build into forbidden peaks. Hate or like him, his vision is sharpened by the aluminium clarity of his own convictions and agenda of “having no issues with anybody.”
He was born on December 20, 1962, and is of Kanuri stock in Borno State. He gained public attention when he led many high profile investigations against former governors including James Ibori and Bukola Saraki.He has served in Bosnia under the United Nations peace keeping operations. Magu is also a member of the investigative committee convened by the National Security Adviser, NSA Babagana Monguno on the orders of the president to probe the procurement of arms in the Armed Forces from 2007 to date He has a degree in Accountancy from the University of Maiduguri. An Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, he is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti- corruption.