Magu spends night in police custody as plot to remove him thickens

Suspended EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu
Suspended EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

The embattled acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, spent the night in police custody on the orders of a presidential panel probing alleged infractions against him.

PREMIUM TIMES reported how Mr Magu was arrested in front of the EFCC office in Abuja by security officials on Monday.

He was taken to the Presidential Villa, Abuja, where he appeared before a presidential panel investigating alleged corruption and insubordination.

The allegations of insubordination and ‘relooting of recovered funds’ were levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

In separate statements Monday, the SSS denied arresting the anti-graft chief while the EFCC said Mr Magu was only invited for questioning.

Similarly, the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption has also described Mr Magu as a victim of power play in the presidency.

Detained

Security and family sources informed PREMIUM TIMES Mr Magu was not allowed to go back home because the panel ordered his detention.

The EFCC official was grilled for several hours by members of the panel in the presence of an EFCC counsel, Rotimi Oyedepo.

When the panel rose for the day, it decided to send Mr Magu to Area 10 Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID) of the police, sources said. He spent the night there, in police custody.

This newspaper learnt that several options of sanctions against Mr Magu were being weighed, pending the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.

“They are planning to take him to court,” PREMIUM TIMES was told Monday afternoon by a source who asked not to be named because he lacked the authority to speak officially

Another source at the presidency said there is a lobby group advocating for a soft-landing for Mr Magu, a police commissioner.

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“According to this power bloc, disgracing Mr Magu will leave a dent on the EFCC and the government’s fight against corruption,” the source said.

“You cannot claim successes in the fight against corruption and turn around to say the man leading the war is a corrupt, immoral person. That is part of the argument of Mr Magu’s sympathisers,” said the source late on Monday.

Power struggle, unending crisis

Multiple sources have also said the ongoing investigations into the activities of the EFCC is ”majorly a battle between the AGF and the EFCC boss.”

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“The alleged originating Malami memo, up to the current “arrest “ seems an outcome of power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power in which Malami appears to be an arrow-head or major agent of a power bloc that is not really interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight,” Femi Odekunle, a member of the presidential advisory committee against corruption (PACAC), wrote in a statement Monday night.

Other sources, who asked not to be mentioned, accused the AGF of using insiders at the commission to sponsor media attacks against Mr Magu.

PREMIUM TIMES is yet to independently verify these allegations.

However, Mr Malami has never been in support of Mr Magu for the EFCC top job. Both men have constantly played a cat and mouse game despite holding sensitive roles in the Buhari administration, especially in the fight against corruption.

Mr Magu, who was appointed acting chief of the anti-graft agency in 2015 by President Muhammad Buhari, was rejected twice by the 8th Assembly under the leadership of former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

This was after the SSS, allegedly in collaboration with Mr Malami, said the nominee lacked the integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.

The presidency has baulked at resending Mr Magus’s name for screening since then.



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