EXCLUSIVE: Inside the fierce intrigues that blocked Magu from top EFCC job

EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu
EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

The Senate’s refusal to confirm Ibrahim Magu as head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was months in coming. In the end, it was a rancorous power-play involving the Senate, the State Security Service, and the Presidency that sealed Mr. Magu’s fate.

At a hurriedly arranged press conference Thursday, the spokesperson for the senate, Abdullahi Sabi, announced that Mr. Magu’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari as EFCC chairman had been rejected.

He cited “security report”, and said the president would be informed of the decision.

Several top security officials and lawmakers have shared with PREMIUM TIMES key elements of that report, and the sequence of events leading up to the Senate decision.

They also gave details of the high-wire intrigues that worked against Mr. Magu, a senior police officer who has managed to inject vigour into the nation’s fight against graft, while generating a whirling controversy with his tactics.

The principal charge against Mr. Magu, our sources said, was the allegation that the chief corruption fighter himself seemed tainted.

The SSS report pointed at Mr. Magu’s N20 million-a-year rental home, and the expensive air transport service he allegedly once enjoyed, at an estimated N2.5 million.

The service involved a private jet belonging to former Air Commodore Mohammed Umar, which transported Mr. Magu from Kano. Mr. Umar, a close friend to the EFCC boss, is facing corruption charges.

The report also noted that Mr. Magu had once been arrested when Farida Waziri headed the EFCC, for stashing official government files at home. EFCC files were also found at Mr. Umar’s home more recently when the property was searched by SSS agents, one source said.

Mr. Magu did not respond or return our calls Thursday. He did not speak to journalists at the National Assembly.

In earlier comments when faced with same allegations, he told PREMIUM TIMEs and other media that he was given the official apartment by the Federal Capital Development Administration (FCDA), and was unaware of its worth.

He also explained that the files found in his home at the time were documents he took home to enable him attend to pressing official duties.

Beyond the report

But multiple sources at the National Assembly and the Presidency agreed the report merely provided a cover to an interplay of power between the Presidency, the Senate and the SSS.

“By and large, it was more or a turf war, and an issue of personal difference between Mr. Magu and the SSS Director General, Lawan (Daura),” one source said.

Outside the National Assembly, the hushed confrontation had been mostly between two camps, involving top Buhari administration officials, they said.

Mr. Magu’s camp has the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Monguno, a retired Major General, and Mr. Umar, a former member of the presidential panel of military arms procurement.

The opposing camp, which for months canvassed M.D. . Magu’s removal, PREMIUM TIMES understands, has the SSS boss, Mr. Daura, Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau, and President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.

Our sources said for weeks, both camps lobbied senators for or against Mr. Magu, and the second camp aggressively pushed the “security report”.

While the report had long been received by the leadership of the Senate, it was not distributed to senators, officials said. It was read to Senators on Thursday.

By then, both sides had won fairly good numbers of lawmakers to their camps, and the two sides agreed Mr. Magu should neither be confirmed nor rejected as EFCC chairman.

Instead, Senators advised the president be informed of the SSS report and be asked for his view, in the hope that if the president persisted, then Mr. Magu would be confirmed.

Lawmakers said when Mr. Magu and other nominees were summoned at Thursday’s closed-door session, he was not asked to respond to the allegations against him.

“They only informed them of the report and told them everything will be sent back to the president,” one source said.

President fingered

Several officials and lawmakers questioned the role of President Buhari in the matter, saying the plot succeeded because the president had himself become apathetic about keeping Mr. Magu at the post.

Lawmakers pointed to the report emanating from the SSS, which they said was copied to the president.

“It is impossible for the president to nominate someone for confirmation and for another of his appointees to write a damning report against the person and send to the senate,” one lawmaker said.

A presidency source said the president was clearly not keen about retaining Mr. Magu, and did not want to withdraw his nomination to avoid offending Vice President Yemi Osinbajo.

“Remember it was the vice president who sent the letter for his confirmation to the Senate,” one presidency source said. “This works somehow because people can now blame the Senate.”

The source said ahead of the Senate session, when repeatedly asked about Mr. Magu’s confirmation, the president’s reaction had always been that he should go through the senate screening process and if he succeeded, that would be fine.


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  • Pat

    Time will tell!

    • S.O.A

      Nigeria is sinking deeper than anomie into chaos with likely bloody consequences.

  • Romberg

    Are you kidding me? Who in earth will blame the Senate for this? Has the DSS denied the report? Or should the Senate ignore the report just because it’s Magu? He doesn’t have to be the EFCC chair. He can clear his name and serve in a different capacity.

    Now, whatever was written against him will be used against him by whosoever he arrests….it’s now a convenient prognosis to hang him as a man without credibility… He should move on. This is not corruption fighting back. Buhari’s men are right at the centre of this….

  • Iskacountryman

    HUSTLERS…

  • Terras

    Buhari is the most super-incompetent president on earth! Imagine a president that does not control his appointees or his other appointees (Daura, Kyari, Danbanza etc) are working against his nominee for a very important position (Magu)? I weep for my country – from clueless Dumbo to inept PMB. What a transition!!!

  • Korede

    Fellow Nigerians Abbakyari ,Daura and the senators are the evil behind buhari govt. They are framing this guy up. Corruption is tactically fighting back. Saraki also collided as a payback. This will test buhari strength.
    He is now a lame duck. He has loose control
    2019 is round the corner. God bless Nigeria.

    • imagine_2012

      Buhari is the real evil please.

  • Arogbo

    The report from the DSS is so damning, Magu should resign immediately.

  • cheky

    I so much believe this story, there’s no how Magu would have failed if he was supported by the presidency. The same senate that screened Amaechi as a minister even when there were allegations of corruption against him (even when the PDP-led senators staged a walk-out) has suddenly become saints. I’m pretty sure some cabals are against Magu’s confirmation. Some people threaten to withdraw their support for Buhari if he allows it (when Sahara Reporters first reported the rift between Mamman Daura and Magu). It’s glaring that they cannot do anything. All these politicians are same, CORRUPTION everywhere.

    • Arabakpura

      I was going to say that Sahara reporters wrote about this long time ago! That online news line is always correct in the end and that’s why it will be difficult for people not to believe that the recent audio recording of Wike is not true!

  • Should Magu continue to parade himself as EFCC chairman, he should be arrested for impersonation. A new chairman should be appointed immediately.

  • Burning Spear

    Magu it was who took the documents that indicted 32 governors and hid them in his house—–during the era of Ribadu and Obj—————the man is a hard–core crook————-who was out to deceive bingo buhari with his gra gra—–police wayo——————–again is efcc meant for only northerners—————

    • Mufu Ola

      Go apply for EFCC chairmanship post, my brother!

  • Gary

    Wait a minute, did I just read that Magu allowed a non-official friend of his access to EFCC files? That is not only unprofessional but borderline criminal, if true.
    How could he? See, this is what hubris causes when anyone begins to play God in any position of trust.
    One knew this was likely to happen with the regularity with which statements obtained during interrogation of suspects were being leaked almost verbatim to SR. That was clearly unethical and a flagrant abuse of the due process rights of citizens who should be presumed innocent before trial and conviction. When some of us complained, the e-mob was quick to rally to Magu’s defense with the usual charge of “corruption fighting back”.
    Now his excesses and disdain for due process have come round to bite him.
    It’s obvious that he no longer enjoyed the confidence of the President he sought so much to impress but who refused at the end to save him from the wolves he had antagonized.

    There’s a moral to this story about the rise and fall of Ibrahim Magu. Hope he didn’t burn all his bridges on his way up as he might now need a few on his way down. One by one , those who went after Bukola Saraki are dropping like flies while the man’s stature and influence in governance is growing by the day. Talk about a remarkable resilience and change of fortunes. Magu’s down and Saraki is still standing.

    • Tunji Olarewaju

      I don’t know where it is written in this report that Magu ‘allowed non-official friend of his access to EFCC files ‘.I doubt if you read through this article. I stand to be corrected sha

      • Gary

        Read the report again. EFCC files were found in the house search of Umar, a friend of Magu’s now standing trial himself for influence peddling.
        All these in the inner circles of an anti-corruption government that has been barely in office for 18 months. Just mind-blowing.

    • larry

      Since he is tainted, I therefore, say that he is a thief.

    • Arabakpura

      It’s up to the President to decide! If he wants him, he is going to continue!

    • Mufu Ola

      I guess you read the story upside down. Where was it written that he allowed his friend access to EFCC files?

      • mayGodpunishopressors

        EFCC was found in AVM Umar’s house. Re-read the report with diligence.

      • Gary

        I just advised your fellow e-rat to read the report again about agency files found in the home of Umar. You guys should stop the mourning for Magu. Gallant officers are dying fighting Boko Haram but all that happened is that Magu was not confirmed. Get your priorities right and stop trying to be Wailers. Lai will not be pleased if you do.

  • Lanre

    Danbazau, Monguno, Abba Kyari, Magu, Daura. The Hausa-Fulani/Political North are having their go at power using their usual pawns (Southerners). In 2016, the list of names reads like a Buhari governmet in 1984. Nothing has changed!

    • HAMZA

      ,,,,,,,,,,,,,,are you a Nigerian and in Nigeria at all???…….Mugono, Kyari & Magu Hausa-Fulani???? – where and how did you get that into your crab brain???……..Nigerian History (as a subject) should be made to find its way back into the school curriculum without further delay!!!

      • A Aminu

        Please forgive his ignorance. To an average southerner, once you are a northerner, you are a Muslim and Hausa/Fulani. He does not know the difference between a Fulani, a kanuri, and Hausa man.

        • mayGodpunishopressors

          What is happening at aso rock is “KANURI at best”. By the time they are through with Aso rock, they will go back to bornu to continue destroying themselves with juju. Fulani and kanuri have a lot of similarities and a lot of things in common.

    • Mufu Ola

      What’s the obsession with North?Are u one of those lazy Southerners who out of their laziness & truancy blame all their woes on North?For your info there are over 1000 ethnic groups in the north with different religious affiliations.Mongunu,Abba Kyari,Magu are not Hausa or Fulani.The distance btwin Kanuriland (Maiduguri) & Sokoto is far longer than distance btwin Lagos & Sokoto.I’m sure u’re not aware of that.

  • Nkem

    Oya Mr. President, the ball is now firmly in your court. Let’s see how you will snooker the corrupt cabal around you by appointing a more no-nonsense and hardheaded officer as EFCC chairman. YOU MUST KILL CORRUPTION BEFORE IT KILLS NIGERIA!

    • sheyman

      I believe Mr president is compromised already and I don’t trust him. Even if he lives in 20m worth of house, we know our senators don’t have the moral right to allege him for that because they live in houses worth billions, they also fly first class or private jet, so why could a pig call a goat dirty animal, this rejection is to fight corruption crusade and am seeing that buhari’s is playing giving up on the fight to have the support of some powerful corrupt lawmakers towards his 2019 reelection.

    • Gary

      Sorry, wake up and smell the coffee. The whole fighting corruption is all smoke and mirrors.
      Some people get into office to amass wealth and then spread it to family, kinsmen and friends. Atiku and GEJ fit into that mold.

      Others like Buhari and OBJ get into office and invite family and kinsmen to “come and chop” with government appointments on the public payroll. In their book, that is simply patronage and enjoying the spoils of election victory, just like rewarding your men and people with positions and oil blocks after a successful coup. It’s par for the course.

      Buhari and his kitchen cabinet all know that this is likely their last turn at the rodeo at their age so it’s time to make hay and leave something for their progeny. The problem now is that they have become victims of their own hype and propaganda. It’s hard to amass wealth when you’ve been posing as anti-corruption crusaders and everyone with a cell phone and Internet access is now a journalist and opining on social media on everything your actions and omissions.

      Magi’s successor is going to run into the same difficulty as he will be expected to go after the opposition and turn a blind eye for the old men in Aso Rock to enjoy the spoils of winning the Presidency at the fourth try.
      There’s no way Magu or anyone else is going to make Buhari turn his back on his loyalists.

    • HAMZA

      I agree with you….because the EFCC ACT does not make it a must for its chairman to be confirmed by the National Assembly before he can either ‘act’ or ‘operate’ in the capacity of its chairman: So whether he is cleared on not cleared is immaterial and I think PMB is only playing the democratic. Be clear also that there are other forces in the Presidency that are for and against Magu – Check for Mungonu and Abba Kyari and even the DSS!!!

  • A Aminu

    The truth of the matter is the president is not being sincere with this issue. Buhari has been taunted as someone who does not take a decision and when he does, it is just as good as not taking a decision, because it is too late. To be on an acting capacity for one year, shows the president is not capable of taking decisive decisions. EFCC boss should not be on acting capacity for so long.
    Both the inspector general of police, and the Chief Justice of Nigeria are on acting capacity. A confirmation which should not take a week to debate at the senate, and obtain would soon take a year. What manner of governance is this.

    • Michael

      You’re of course correct. PMB is indecisive and ineffectual. He is ready to sacrifice Magu who is doing a very good job just to please those who who oppose him. Shame on him.

      • Gary

        Give the man a break. He’s an old man now and spent all his life in the Army. You heard what he said the other day that his time in Army was filled with war, coups and did not allow for educational pursuits like the younger officers of today. I’m no fan of his but the man is often brutally candid. Another privilege that comes with age.

        • Julius

          Be serious and stop trying to be smart by half. Tell me the excuses why the same things happens to the U S Presidents . Their Senate do refuse nominations as well. Oya, I dey wait.

          • Gary

            You are mixing apples and oranges here, my friend. I was specifically responding to the comment expressing disappointment with Buhari’s alleged indecisiveness.

            If you follow my postings on this issue, you would have noticed that I don’t share in the hand-wringing over the rejection of Magu. I am committed to advancing democracy in Nigeria and have been alarmed at the fascist, militaristic style Magu brought to the job at the EFCC. The Senate acted right in the exercise of its powers of consent and oversight in rejecting Magu. That will send a strong message to the other current and future tingods nominated for office that they should not mess with the rule of law and due process rights of the Nigerian people.

            Again, it’s nothing special about Magu getting rejected. He blew it all on his own. Any public official who wants to keep his integrity and his job must learn to pick his battles and more importantly, have the people behind him. You can never go wrong or go down if the people have your back.
            Tinubu could not remove Fashola as Lagos Governor when they fell out because the latter had strong public support during his tenure.
            Same thing is playing out in the Senate with regards to Bukola Saraki. He enjoys the support of his fellows Senators across the aisles. They see him as the embodiment of the independence of that chamber and upholding the institution in their collective interest. Despite his well-known unsavory past, Saraki has put the national interest above his party’s or his own travails at the hands of the leadership and Aso Rock that was determined to oust him by often foul means.
            For that reason alone and helping to advance democracy in my view, I support Saraki and hope that he will become the most consequential Senate President of the Fourth Republic if he continues to stand on democratic principles. He has the education and pedigree to achieve it.

          • Julius

            You lost me with your support for Saraki. He is not worth to be called a Senator much less the Senate president. You went off the rail regarding the confirmation process. My point is simply that all Presidents goes thru that in a Democratic settings. Doesn’t matter how powerful or smart the president is. Most of the time its power play and pay- back for something somebody did. The president can withdraw his name , nominate somebody else or have a meeting with the leadership of the Senate, beg or whatever , do what he need to do and get his nominee confirmed if he is totally behind him.

          • Gary

            Well, we have an honest disagreement in Saraki. You focus on his past and I choose to be pragmatic about his present situation and impact on upholding constitutional democracy. He’s not an angel and there are very few of those in national politics and in his position. As we now see in the power play inside Aso Rock.
            Until Jesus shows up to help us out, we have to make do with what we have to protect and advance the democratic rights of our people. That is my own focus. If Saul became Paul, Saraki can transform into a reformed democrat.

          • Julius

            So, if somebody do what he had done it will be okay because Saul became St paul in the Bible ? Got ya. In that case nobody should be prosecuted or made to refund their stolen monies to the government which is or supposed to be all of us. I disagree with due respect.

          • Gary

            Has any case been yet established against him in a competent court? Or you call the CCT farce a trial or the witch-hunt orchestrated by Tinubu who was cleared by the same court and judge on similar charges? How’s Tinubu doing these days with the party and Aso Rock cabal who went after Saraki?

            If you can point out just one honest person in the party hierarchy deserving of replacing Saraki as Senate President, do tell him to step forward and challenge him to a leadership contest.
            Saraki can be voted out as Senate President if he does not have the support of the majority of his colleagues. It’s that simple. But you folks want him railroaded out of the position. And that is foul and undemocratic.

            We are now almost two years into APC rule and rather than move the country forward, party factions and dug in supporters are waging hopeless political battles that are worsening the lives of the people who elected them into office.

            What has Magu got to do with the price of Rice in the market? Go read details of the SSS report on ThisDay and you’ll reconsider your support for the guy and understand why Buhari did not go on the mat for him.
            Dude should be thankful he’s not being prosecuted for breaking the Official Secrets Act.

      • A Aminu

        No Michael we should not judge the president yet. He could re-present Magu again for confirmation, and insist he should be confirmed. It is done. I don’t think Buhari will sacrify such a good choice unless if he is bringing Nuhu Ribadu.

        • Michael

          I’m a little confused; what did I write that is any different from what you wrote?

          • HAMZA

            ……….but you seemed to have concluded that PMB “is ready to sacrifice Magu who is doing a very good job just to please those who who oppose him. Shame on him”

      • HAMZA

        …………………mark you, the EFCC ACT does not make it a must for its chairman to be confirmed by the National Assembly before he can either ‘act’ or ‘operate’ in the capacity of its chairman: So whether he is cleared on not cleared is immaterial and I think PMB is only playing the democratic. Be clear also that there are other forces in the Presidency that are for and against Magu – Check for Mungonu and Abba Kyari and even the DSS!!!

      • Gbenga

        I honestly don’t know what is wrong with the President. He has not been presidential and supremely tactical in his decisions. And this is seriously setting the country back. He seems to have allowed close friends and charlatans, who know next to nothing about the complexities of governance, to hijack the government from him. I find it hard to believe that he doesn’t know that these friends and charlatans are in his government to serve themselves and their associates. President, please where is that no-nonsense attribute of yours that attracted you to some of us during the last electioneering?

        • St

          And he was a general, he should do more tactically cos as Nigerian, I think OBJ was a better tactician in attacking corruption than him

          • Julius

            Hahahahaha. see me , see hypocrites. Remember that people were trying to run Obj out of town when he was doing all that. They were calling him all sorts of names. Now he was a better tacticians you say ? Yah, sure.

          • St

            Lol

          • Julius

            lol, glad you see your folly !!!

        • Powerlessconscious

          The report is baseless. No clear detail of the offence. To much adjective. Just like a complain against magu. Not any offence. Mind you, magu case does not warrant all your writeup against the president. It does not relate at all. The USA presidents have faced this many times. Democracy does not allow a president to take decision alone at ALL TIMES. We know those who always shout DICTATORSHIP and AUTOCRACY. Of magu is rejected, it does not stop the efcc as a body from functioning well. If you want to blame the president then should we also blame Nigerians who elected the LEGISLOOTERS too?

    • John

      To me, it is a clear indication that while he was a head of state, General Idiagbon was actually in charge. May God strengthen President Buhari to take genuine decision on National issues without compromise. Not minding whether somebody is happy about it or not. Talking about security report, if that was presented to the Senate before Chief of Staff to the President, DG SSS and Gen Danbazau were cleared, I doubt if they would had scaled through. Nigerians should not be taking for granted. We are all watching.

      • Julius

        Cut the shit out. Bush, Obama nominations faced the same results before and I bet you Trump nomination will face the same fate.Its always a power play between the executive and the legislators in a Democratic settings. Heck, Reagan had the same thing done to him by the Senate. Relax, they will sort it out if Buhari actually wants him to be there.

  • Taiwo

    That’s is why no serious minded person will accept Buhari’s job offer (remember Prof Akinwande?). I’m not even sure he understands what governance is all about. We all simply fell for the serial loser thinking that he had something to offer.

    See how Saraki has dismantled him. O ma se o!

    • HAMZA

      ……………..but time before now you accused Buhari and Saraki of tactful deceit by indirect connivance to have allowed Saraki to clinch the senate chair so that all of them being Fulani would edge out Tinubu: now you are saying Saraki has dismantled Buhari – you for sey Saraki and Tinubu are working together (as Yorubas) to dismantle Buhari!!! NONSENSE!!!

      • realist

        Mind you, lots of intricacies, you cannot understand them until the process is completed, so don’t blame Taiwo. More so it seems Buhari is not in charge, the aids decide what they want and Buhari that should coordinate them seems handicapped no enough practical wisdom. Hence things are in disarray in the country.

        • Gbenga

          Realist, I like the point you just made.

        • HAMZA

          I would blame Baba PMB more of his neglect in the Senate Presidency election saga…….I think Baba OBJ would have used ‘carrot and stick’ to tame and make Saraki fall ‘in line’…!!!

        • Powerlessconscious

          How do you mean buhari is not in charge? Are you not guys always shouting DICTATORSHIP to protect those thieves you love? However the efcc chair is NOT necessary, the body is enough to kill all those evil men and women who has vow never to allow Nigeria progress.

    • taiwo

      PMB’s connivance or neglect in the Senate Presidency election saga is now haunting him. I guess he now knows he overplayed his hands there.

    • HAMZA

      I would blame Baba PMB more of his neglect in the Senate Presidency election saga…….I think Baba OBJ would have used ‘carrot and stick’ to tame and bring Saraki fall ‘in line’…!!!

  • imagine_2012

    Hhahahahashshshal. don’t worry. We are fighting kwarruption.

  • Tayomi

    Where are the untainted ones in Nigeria?

  • thusspokez

    Lawmakers said when Mr. Magu and other nominees were summoned at Thursday’s closed-door session, he was not asked to respond to the allegations against him.

    Kangaroo Senate! This was a clear disregard for the Senate constitution and ethical obligations. It is also a clear infringement of Mr. Magu’s human rights. And not dissimilar to a judge in a Kangaroo court passing sentence on an accused without allowing any legal representation on behalf of the latter. Shame on the Nigerian Senate!

  • thusspokez

    “It is impossible for the president to nominate someone for confirmation and for another of his appointees to write a damning report against the person and send to the senate,” one lawmaker said.

    Buhari nominated Magu; Duara however, tells Buhari that he can’t have Magu as the EFCC chairperson.

    Clearly, Mr Daura has become too big for his boots considering the extent to which he went to undermine his boss, Buhari. The question now is: Is Buhari still in-charge or to what extend is he in-charge?

  • Dr Pat Kolawole Awosan

    With the revelations of explosive bribery sheme involving the EFCC,chairman,Ibrahim Magu, sorry!!! president Muhammadu Buhari, must source for a decent,transparent and credible character Nigerian, to replace Ibrahim Magu, as EFCC chairman.Ibrahim Magu, lacks any credibility to be confirmed as EFCC chairman.

    • Powerlessconscious

      Shutup. The report does not have clear detail of any offence. It is just like a complain NOT an offence. Shame on these legislooter and their blind supporters. I just hope God can separate these evils away from us in Nigeria.

  • Ado Abdul

    What ever anyone would say, Magu has performed creditably well. So many senators may have skeleton in their cupboard.