Commentary: No Laughing Matter – Magu’s EFCC Academy to offer Anti-corruption Degree Programs

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In what many observers have derisively dismissed as a brazen show of megalomania, and a bad joke taken too far, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) announced Monday that its academy in Karu, Abuja will soon be certified as the first anti-corruption degree-awarding institution in Nigeria. EFCC spokesman, Tony Orilade made this known in a statement in Abuja on Monday. Orilade quoted the Secretary to the Commission, Olanipekun Olukoyede, as saying the acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, had inaugurated a committee to fast-track the process for the certification. Seriously?

Olukoyede said that the academy would soon begin to run Certificate, Diploma and Degree courses in Anti-corruption Investigation Studies. He added that the training on cyber-crime investigation was designed to help increase the capacity of the investigators. David Tukura, Commandant of the academy said that it had the capacity to conduct all necessary anti-corruption trainings aimed at meeting the human capacity needs of the commission. Tukura assured that the commission remained committed to ensuring that the Nigerian economic system was insulated against the criminal tendencies of cybercriminals. “That is why we catch and get the criminals punished,” he said.

This is an insult to the Nigerian people carried too far, which does little credit to the image of President Muhammadu Buhari, whose promise of a new dawn in public probity formed the plank of his political covenant with the people prior to his election mandate in 2015. The aura of pride and arrogance in the EFCC’s announcement to offer anti-corruption degree programs is a contradiction that speaks volumes about the rot and moral decadence within the anti-graft agency; that itself is neck-deep in corruption. This is the tragedy of Nigeria.

To begin with, the fact that Ibrahim Magu continues to serve as acting chair of the EFCC despite his rejection and failure to win confirmation as substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency, by the outgoing Senate, is a huge disservice to Nigeria. Both in his personal capacity and as president of this republic, Buhari has unceasingly declared his stand against corruption. He promised in his acceptance speech that “we shall strongly battle another form of evil that is worse than terrorism; the evil of corruption which attacks and seeks to destroy our national institutions and character.” Having noted the “pervasive corruption” in his inaugural speech, he promised “responsible and accountable governance at all levels of government” and charged the judiciary to “act with dispatch on all cases especially on corruption, serious financial crimes, or abuse of office.”

If the electoral theft perpetrated by President Buhari and his co- conspirators is not reversed by the presidential election tribunal, then, Nigerians would be well advised to prepare themselves for four more years of the same because the Buhari administration has no intention of changing its tune. They wasted the last four years blaming everyone but themselves for the series of catastrophes that they passed on for governance and agencies like the EFCC under Magu seem to have taken the clue; blaming all their failures on the Jonathan administration that left office four years ago.

Recently, Magu took blaming the Jonathan government to higher levels of absurdity, when he accused them of looting N1.3 trillion from 2011 to 2015 and declaring that the Buhari administration is on a cleanup mission. This is utterly ridiculous. That amount is equivalent to $8 billion calculated on the pre- 2015 value of the Naira to the dollar. The question then becomes: who in the Jonathan administration looted those funds? Magu should name names instead of naming figures. Even the kleptocratic regime of General Sani Abacha which plundered Nigeria is believed to have stolen an estimated least $5 billion. Yet President Buhari is famously quoted as saying “Abacha did not steal.”
Even if Magu has the memory of an elephant, Nigerians have not forgotten that the Abacha family was allowed to keep about $1.2 billion of the estimated $5 billion that their bloodthirsty buffoon of a father looted from Nigeria. In fact, a stadium is named after that common thief in Kano! Abacha’s widow once boasted that she brought President Buhari into politics and his son, Mohammed Abacha, continues to maintain that the money traced to his family was earned legitimately, even as the loot continues to be uncovered in sundry places all over the world. Just seven months ago, Switzerland repatriated $320 million worth of Abacha loot, and this is the idiot that President Buhari said did not steal?

What has Magu done to recover the money that is still being held by the Abacha family? What has he done to stem the grand scale pervasive corruption that is ongoing all around President Buhari? Just 48 hours to the 2019 general elections, bullion vans were ferrying cash into Bola Tinubu’s house in violation of the 2011 Money Laundering Act which makes it illegal for individuals to hold cash deposits exceeding N5,000,000; the EFCC said nothing even with Tinubu boasting publicly that the bullion vans ferried cash and it was no one’s business. Recently, a renowned entertainer, Charly Boy admitted to receiving a nine figure payment from the spokesman to the Buhari campaign, Festus (Stephanie Otobo) Keyamo. Has the EFCC investigated this? And lest anyone forgets, did Magu’s EFCC ever investigate the $25 billion NNPC contracts awarded without due process? To put this in perspective, that money can pay one million Nigerians the proposed new minimum wage of N30,000 for four years.

Two years after concluding its investigation, the Buhari administration and the EFCC have still not told Nigerians who owns the Ikoyi Apartment billions. If that money was traceable to anyone in the Jonathan administration or PDP, the whole world would have heard by now. Magu said he cannot investigate or prosecute Kano Governor, Umar Ganduje because he has immunity, but the same Magu’s EFCC charged Akwa-Ibom Governor, Udom Emmanuel, in the NBA President’s bribery case. Where was Magu when Buhari’s Minister of Justice went to court to secure an injunction to thwart the Senate investigation into how Maina, the biggest thief in Nigeria’s civil service history, was reinstated and double promoted? What happened to Senator Godswill Akpabio? When he was PDP, the EFCC never ceased harassing him; no sooner did he decamp to APC, the case against him went silent. And the case of Orji Uzor Kalu who was declared wanted by the EFCC. A week later, the same Orji Kalu was dancing besides Buhari at an APC rally in Abakaliki. Does Magu not know where to find Orji Kalu and arrest him?

The truth is that the EFCC under Ibrahim Magu is the armed wing of the APC. The fact remains that Magu (some prefer to call him “Mugu”) is incompetent mentally, intellectually and unsuited for the job of EFCC Chairman. It was under Magu, that the Egmont Group and the Financial Action Task Force suspended Nigeria for lack of autonomy at the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit because Magu’s EFCC kept using classified financial intelligence to blackmail political opponents of the Buhari government.
Under Magu, Nigeria has made its worse retrogression in the Transparency International Corruption Perception Index. Whereas under Jonathan and the PDP, Nigeria made her best ever improvement on TI’s CPI, moving 8 places from 144 to 136 in 2014, under President Buhari and the APC, Nigeria has moved backwards 12 places from 136 to 148.

The only tangible achievement Magu can boast of is the inflation of the cost of constructing the new EFCC headquarters at an astonishing N24 billion ($70 million). Given the enormity, the hydra-headed nature, and the huge resources at the disposal of its perpetrators to fight back, President Buhari should not therefore be seen as holding brief for people accused of corruption. Nigerians are deeply concerned because of the wide-reaching implications of the president acting like defense attorney for a man like Magu. Surely, a nation intending to develop in concrete terms cannot overlook or be pretentious of the danger inherent in such impunity. In all, what the president’s action in keeping Magu at the EFCC has done is to authenticate impunity. This is the purport of the President’s uncompromising stance in the matter of Magu. Buhari’s action reinforces the conviction that here in Nigeria, only people outside the corridors of power pay for their crimes.

The least Nigerians expected, was for the President to ask Magu to resign his position instead of standing by his man. The anti-graft war should not be seen to be selective but all-encompassing and diligent. If reputation is lost, all is lost. In civilized democracies, it would not have been out of place to say that Magu himself, seeing the controversy his appointment at the EFCC has generated could equally have voluntarily resigned. That notwithstanding, Buhari’s insistence that Magu must be confirmed is a display of immaturity and arrogance by this administration and reduces the presidency to one that will go to any length to pander to the self-seeking and unpatriotic ego-tripping of the president’s men, even at the risk of compromising its own integrity.

Because political leadership is key to the change which the APC and its government promised the electorate, the Nigerian presidency must commit itself to, and be seen to so execute, rectitude and an integrity-driven government. The only effective leadership is by example and the presidency, as the pinnacle of authority and power, must earn and claim without an iota of doubt, the moral high ground from which it can prosecute the war against the hydra-headed corruption monster. The past four years have unveiled many untidy, sordid, mind-bending public financial transactions; showcasing Nigeria as Corruption Inc. The President has a duty to appoint only people of impeccable character. There is no reason to suggest he cannot do that. The only thing required is that the president walks his talk and leads by example. In the case of Magu, history is not on Buhari’s side.

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