By Meshack Tony Idehen
It is no longer news that the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu was in Lagos last week to testify in court regarding the damaging, highly inaccurate and very false publication made against him by a major newspaper in Nigeria.
It is also not news that Magu, totally committed to the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria and Africa, does not have the time to engage in issues not directly related to the cause of eradicating corruption from Nigeria that he’s so unswerving to.
As the National Coordinator of Media Against Impunity Nigeria (MAIN NGR), and a journalist committed to working towards the greater good of Nigeria, I found it intriguing, that Nigerians have yet to fully take ownership of the fight against corruption, which by any stretch of imagination, is the greatest and most deadly challenge the country is grappling with.
This article therefore, is to throw some light, and place in context, the amazing work being done by Ibrahim Magu and his team at the EFCC, and also to connect Nigerians with the need to key into ways and means of eradicating this scourge called economic and financial crimes.
Mr. Ibrahim Magu came in and took the challenge against Africa’s most deadly virus of corruption and economic crimes head on; doing so at a time when many Nigerians and the international community have almost given up hope of redeeming the continent and Nigeria in particular from the curses and effects of corruption and economic crimes.
However, Magu, just about three years after is now a household name around the world, as the mere mention of his name is now enough to send shivers of fears and trepidations down the spines of the present and potentially corrupt.
He was recently named the World’s Best Anti-Corruption Champion by United Kingdom based Global Peace Movement International and recognized by the African Union and the Commonwealth of Nations as an international model in combating corruption and economic crimes.
Since the creation of EFCC more than a decade ago, and with three past chairmen, the commission has yet to receive the kind of accolades it is been receiving under the current chairman, which naturally brings the question to mind, what makes Ibrahim Magu ticks?
Dr Mike Uyi, the President of Global Peace Movement International (UK), and whose campaign for good governance, human rights and anti-corruption has taken him round the world, put it succinctly when said that “Under Ibrahim Mustafa Magu”, “the EFCC has recovered more loot since its establishment”.
That simple phrase indeed captures what the EFCC is focused on, which is actualizing the corruption free Nigeria mandate of President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to Dr Mike Uyi, “Ibrahim Magu has achieved so much in terms of recovery of looted funds and properties in the past two years more than was achieved in the last 12 years of the existence of the commission. Under him, every government official is under investigation, because the deadly virus of corruption which gave rise to the anti-corruption fight embarked upon by the President Buhari-led government is total and geared towards bringing the nation’s economy back on a sound footing”.
According to the Global Peace Movement President, Magu is the only EFCC chairman that has gone ahead to create the department of internal affairs in the commission just to check corruption suspicions amongst staff, and charged with the responsibility of vetting intending staff, investigating staff, receiving petitions from the public concerning staff and making sure all members of the staff are men of integrity.
“Are those achievements not enough to make the EFCC Chairman tick? Dr Mike Uyi questioned, adding even other countries are coming to learn from EFCC how it has achieved much results as seen from the recent visits of the Pakistanis, Ghana amongst others.
Mr. Irum Bakhari, who recently led a delegation to EFCC from Pakistan had said, “We are here because we are interested in learning from the EFCC. We want to know your composition, your success stories, and the laws that govern your activities, as we are also striving very much in our country to fight corruption, extremism and terrorism.
In 2017 alone, EFCC) recovered about N511.9 billion in naira, pounds, dollars, euro, South African Rand and dirham currency denominations.
These recoveries include the recovery of N329 billion from petroleum marketers by the commission’s Kano Office, N32billion and $5million to the Federal Government from the former minister of petroleum resources, as well as another N449 million discovered at Legico Plaza on Victoria Island, Lagos.
Another sum of $43million was discovered in an apartment at Osborne Towers in Ikoyi, Lagos; recovery of over N27.7 billion from banks; Nigerian Ports Authority recovery of over €6.6 million, recovery of N1.1 billion naira on behalf of AMCON, and the recovery of subsidy fraud funds of over N4 billion.
“It takes only a man totally committed to eradicating corruption not to be tempted by these huge recoveries”, Dr Uyi added, saying that EFCC under Magu is the number one in Africa and the 11th Best Anti-Corruption agency in the world. “There is no gang up or conspiracy in the world that can stop or erase that reality”, the global peace movement international president said”.
He said the anti-graft agency has, undoubtedly, altered the narrative of criminal prosecution in Nigeria, and set a standard for law enforcement agencies, within and outside of the country, saying what drives the EFCC Chairman is the passion to do what is right by ensuring that corruption is brought to a standstill in this country.
The EFCC under Magu has continued to expand the frontiers of Nigeria’s anti-corruption fight. Recently, Canada’s High Commissioner to Nigeria, Christopher Thornley, expressed the resolve of the Canadian government, to partner with the EFCC, in order to better represent itself in the global fight against corruption.
Canada said they have monitored Magu’s activities, and his commendable efforts in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Same with the Chinese government. L.I. Xiaohong, Director at Vice-Minister Level of the Office of the Central Leading Group for Inspection Tours of the Communist Party of China (CPC), said they have heard a lot about Magu’s efforts in the fight against corruption and commended him for his doggedness in ensuring that he kicks corruption out of Nigeria.
Apart from Global Peace Movement International, Media Against Impunity Nigeria, Organized Labour and Civil Society Groups have all found reason to support the fight against corruption.
The Federal Bureau of Investigations, (FBI), the United Kingdom, UK Metropolitan Police, and the Department of Justice, among other international law enforcement agencies have aided the war against corruption in foreign jurisdictions, due to the commitment consistently displayed by the EFCC boss.
“The EFCC has expanded its operational reach in the country, with the aim of reaching out to the grassroots, and to galvanize all segments of the society to own the anti-corruption crusade. From six offices in Abuja, Lagos, Enugu, Kano, Gombe, and Port Harcourt; four new offices have been added – Ibadan, Kaduna, Edo, and Akwa Ibom, Dr Enyogai explained.
These collaboration and partnerships that Magu has put in place and which are evidently yielding results is because the EFCC Chairman is humble and humane enough to acknowledge that the EFCC alone cannot win the war as no one has the monopoly of knowledge.
“We must all come together and strike a common consensus on how to confront and defeat this monster called corruption. “We believe there is still a lot to be done”, even though, “we have reached a level where nobody can stop us in the fight against corruption”, Magu said.
Prince Meshack Idehen is the National Administrator of Media Against Impunity Nigeria (MAIN NGR), and writes in from Abuja, Nigeria.