In what appears to be payback time, top politicians indicted for corruption by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) are moving against the re-appointment of Ibrahim Magu as an operative of the commission, PREMIUM TIMES has learnt.
Several sources within the commission said Mr. Magu, a chief superintendent of police, who served as head of the Economic Governance Unit (EGU) of the EFCC during the tenure of Nuhu Ribadu as chairman, made several enemies while at the commission, with many of them ensuring he never returns.
“Magu made several enemies while at the EFCC. You know he was the brain behind high profile investigations like Saraki, Odili and others,” a top EFCC source said. He also stated that “many of them have vowed not to let him return to the EFCC.”
Magu, the investigator
Mr. Magu was one of the early recruits into the EFCC by Mr. Ribadu. He is seen by peers as an incorruptible and courageous officer and then made the head of the sensitive EGU, a unit in charge of investigations of senior public officials.
As head of the EGU, some of the investigations Mr. Magu spearheaded include – the role of former Kwara State Governor and serving senator, Bukola Saraki, in the collapse of Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria, and James Ibori, former Governor of Delta State, who was recently convicted for money laundering in the United Kingdom money laundering deal.
But trouble started for the police officer after the controversial removal of Mr. Ribadu as chairman of the commission in December 2007. The new chairman, Farida Waziri, was uncomfortable with his presence doubting his loyalty to her, sources say.
In August 2008, Mr. Magu was accused of illegally keeping case files of top politicians being investigated by the commission. His house in Abuja was searched and his property carted away by operatives of the EFCC acting under the directive of Mrs. Waziri. He was subsequently re-deployed to the police after days of detention with nothing incriminating found against him.
He was later suspended from the police, going without salaries for several months.
EFCC seeks Magu’s return
Following his confirmation as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC, PREMIUM TIMES learnt that Ibrahim Lamorde made the return of Mr. Magu to the EFCC a top priority. Both men had worked together at the commission when Mr. Lamorde served as head of operations of the agency.
In a letter to the Inspector General of Police (IGP) on March 19, 2012, and titled “Re: Postings/Transfer and secondments of police officers to the EFCC,” Mr. Lamorde put Mr. Magu as top on the list of police officers he wanted to be deployed to the EFCC.
But when the police boss was to confirm the deployment of the officers, Mr. Magu’s name was conspicuously absent.
We did not bow to pressure
While senior officials in the EFCC and the police believe Mr. Magu is being witch-hunted for his past roles in the commission, police spokesman, Frank Mba, says the IGP did no wrong in the deployment.
“The IGP can execute his discretion in any way he decides in the overall interest of the force,” Mr. Mba said.
Mr. Mba denied that the police boss bowed to political pressure in not deploying Mr. Magu to the EFCC saying, “if you have any evidence to show that the IGP has bowed to pressure, show us your evidence.”
The EFCC may soon get its dear anti-corruption fighter as sources at the police headquarters informed PREMIUM TIMES that President Goodluck Jonathan has intervened in Mr. Magu’s case.
“The President has directed that the police co-operate with the EFCC by releasing any police official the commission needs to strengthen itself,” our source said.
Following the Presidents intervention, it is expected that Mr. Magu would be released to the EFCC, a development, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, is a major source of relief to Mr. Lamorde.
“Chairman (Mr. Lamorde) believes he needs men like Magu to work with him. I’m sure it will make their (EFCCs) work more efficient,” our source said.