Iheanacho Nwosu, Abuja
The acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu has shrugged off the allegation that he is on a personal vendetta against the Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
He said that there was nothing personal in the fresh investigation of the Senate President by the commission, stressing that EFCC can investigate anybody at any time.
He spoke shortly after receiving an award of ‘Outstanding Leadership in Public Service’ from Euro Knowledge Group.
The commission recently launched an investigation into the earnings of Saraki during his eight-year tenure as governor of Kwara State as well as contract awards and spending by the Senate under his leadership.
Saraki’s spokesman, Yusuf Olaniyonu, claimed the fresh investigation of his boss by EFCC was a witch-hunt.
He said: “This new investigation into his activities as Governor of Kwara State is a repeat performance. The EFCC is fishing for evidence that they did not get in the past investigations which have spanned almost nine years,” he said.
“To single out one individual for persistent investigation can only be logically and plausibly interpreted to be a witch-hunt. This is definitely no fight against corruption. It is a battle waged against a ‘political enemy.’ It is a ‘label to damage’ plot.”
However, Magu insisted that there is nothing personal in the investigation. Instead, he said the new move was in line with the duty of the commission to investigation anybody residing in the country no matter how highly placed.
He said: “No, it is not personal, it is not personal. I am not after anybody on personal ground. His is not different from other investigations that we are doing.”
Beyond Saraki, Magu denied the recurring allegation that he is on a witch-hunt against some individuals. He said: “No, no, never, never. Have I gone for those who are innocent? We invite those who have committed financial crimes, those who are corrupt. If you are not corrupt you are not in EFCC. If you are not a 419, internet fraudster or yahoo boy you cannot be in EFCC. We do our homework very well.
“Sometimes we conduct investigation up to six months on a particular matter. The person will not even know that he or she is being investigated. We have investigated people for more than five years without them knowing. I have no reason witch-hunt anybody.”
He described corruption as a national malaise that should be jointly fought by Nigerians.
The EFCC boss said: “Corruption is a national disaster which every Nigerian should fight. It is the mother of all evils. All these banditries, Boko Haram insurgency and other social ills are rooted in corruption. They are sustained by corruption.”
On the award given to him by Euro Knowledge Group, he said it was encouraging to receive such honour from a credible organisation.
He said: “It is encouraging; I welcome such an award. We do a background check before accepting any award. We are ready to work with those who show genuine willingness to join in the fight against corruption.
“We are mobilising every Nigerian to come and join us in the fight against corruption.”
He regretted that some people were yet to see corruption as an evil that must be tackled headlong. Magu emphasised that there is an urgent need to join forces against bribe-taking even as he called for an increased campaign against corruption at all levels.
In her short speech, Chairman of the group, Mrs Olayinka Fayomi, described corruption as a problem that must be fought and addressed. She recommended that the campaign against corruption must be taken to all age groups, museum and centres.