Magu spends fourth night in detention as panel continues interrogation

Ibrahim Magu, suspended EFCC Chairman.
Ibrahim Magu, suspended EFCC Chairman.

The embattled chairman of the anti-graft agency, EFCC, spent his fourth night in detention on Thursday.

Mr Magu was arrested on Monday and has been detained since then.

He is facing a probe panel set up by President Muhammadu over allegations of corruption and insubordination. The panel, headed by a retired appeal court judge, Ayo Salami, also has representatives of the major security agencies, police and the SSS, as members.

The allegations against Mr Magu were made by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. Both men have had a running battle since Mr Magu’s appointment in 2015.

While the panel has continued its daily sitting, it has been held behind closed doors in the absence of journalists.

Government officials including presidential spokespersons have also been reluctant to speak officially on the status of the investigation and of Mr Magu.

Apart from Mr Magu, other senior officials of the agency including its secretary, Olanipekun Olukoyede, are believed to have appeared before the panel.

Unlike Mr Magu, however, every other person who has appeared before the panel has been allowed to go home after the appearance.

PREMIUM TIMES learnt from sources close to Mr Magu that he is allowed to see his family at the Area 10 police building in Abuja where he is detained and sleeps at one of its waiting rooms.

He also has access to his lawyers and spends virtually all day answering questions at the panel since Monday.

“He is taken away from the FCID to the villa around 9 a.m. and brought back around 11 p.m. every day,” a security source told PREMIUM TIMES, saying Mr Magu is interrogated daily by the presidential panel.

Suspension

A day after Mr Magu was arrested, he was suspended from office, according to multiple sources briefed on the matter. Since the suspension, however, there has been no official announcement on it or on who would head the EFCC in the interim.

At the EFCC headquarters in Abuja, Mr Olukoyede and the commission’s director of operations, Mohammed Umar, continue to supervise the agency, with neither of them being formally appointed as acting head of the agency yet.

However, based on Section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, the most-senior EFCC official next to Mr Magu ”with 15 years experience as a security operative” is expected to take charge as the head of the commission. That would leave Mr Umar, a deputy commissioner of police, as interim head of the agency.

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On the same day Mr Magu was suspended, a combined team of riot policemen and operatives of the State Security Services (SSS) searched his house in Karu, Abuja.

Nothing incriminating was found during the search, PREMIUM TIMES learnt.

Many Nigerians including civil society organisations and a member of the presidential advisory committee against corruption, Femi Odekunle, have described Mr Magu’s ordeal as a power play between him and Mr Malami.

Magu Rejected Twice

Mr Magu, who was appointed as 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, after the State Security Service said the nominee lacked the integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.

In the 9th Assembly, Mr Magus’s name was never sent for screening, despite an endorsement by a presidential adviser and chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), Itse Sagay.

“This is not a turn-by-turn thing. It is a thing of merit. You must work for it and achieve it. In our view, the acting chairman deserves everything including his being given a substantive appointment. It is true one man cannot make a forest, but it takes a good man, a man of quality to bring out the best in any organisation, and that is what he represents – an uncompromising person.

“As far as corruption is concerned, no one has the courage in this country to offer him a bribe, because he or she knows the result will be a disaster. We are solidly behind Magu and the EFCC.” Mr Sagay said when he led his team on a solidarity visit to the EFCC boss at the commission’s headquarters, in November 2019.



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