By Ezra Odogu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC has raised the alarm over the recent allegation against the Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu by the United States, US Senate’s Chairman, Committee on Finance, Charles E. Grassley on looted funds.
The Commission reiterated that it is at the forefront of the transparent management of recovered funds and would not be dragged into any controversy over an allegation that has no fact or any iota of proof.
The 86-year-old US Republican Senator had in a letter dated April 1, 2020, and addressed to the Chief Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section of the US Department of Justice, Deborah Connor, wrongly and maliciously accused Magu of “detaining individuals who have spoken against the Buhari government”.
The allegation clearly has no bearing with the operations of the EFCC nor address the painstaking efforts of Magu in tackling the menace of corruption, without fear or favour.
The EFCC is involved in the processes of repatriation of the looted $300million by the former Head of State, the late Gen Sani Abacha and quite aware of the tripartite agreement involving Nigeria, the United States and Island of Jersey.
As an anti-graft agency, the Commission has credible records of managing recovered funds and assets and it is rather unfortunate that the ranking US Senator, in a desperate bid to frustrate the repatriation of the funds, clearly embraced the well-worn antics of some unscrupulous elements in the country, who never succeeded in blackmailing the anti-corruption crusade of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Even the harshest detractors of Mr. Magu know and always acknowledge his firm and bold handling of the anti- corruption fight which continues to earn him accolades within and outside Nigeria.
Only recently, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, FBI, gave an Award of Excellence to Mr. Magu for his unique role in a joint field operation codenamed, “Operation Rewired”. The operation yielded great results internationally in tackling the menace of cyber-crime.
It is worrisome that a high-ranking US lawmaker of the status of Grassley could not get his facts rightly nor establish a credible premise of attacking an FBI- celebrated Magu. Would the FBI have come out to acknowledge the effectiveness and credibility of the EFCC under Magu’s watch, if such allegation of oppressing opposition to President Buhari’s government had any merit?
Besides, only recently, former Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr Mohammed Adoke (SAN), and an opposition PDP politician, poured encomiums on Magu on the visible achievements of the EFCC under his watch. According to Adoke, “President Muhammadu Buhari is highly celebrated for fighting corruption and the poster boy of this celebrated achievement is clearly Magu’’
It would interest Sen Grassley to know that three former governors who are ranking members of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC, which is President Buhari’s party, are currently serving jail terms for corruption. Is the EFCC also persecuting members of the President’s party?
Grassley evidently lacks any sound basis for linking the EFCC and Magu with any oppressive or separatist agenda against government opposition.
Records of convictions of the Commission are in the public domain as well as cases before the courts, which can be subjected to un-biased analysis and scrutiny.
We wish to reiterate that the EFCC under Magu is too focused on the anti- graft agenda of the government to be distracted by such empty claims of the lawmaker. Grassley and his sponsors are clearly on quicksand on this issue.
The Commission remains focused on its mandate against economic and financial crimes and will not be deterred by spurious allegations from individuals with hidden agenda.