By Adewale Kupoluyi
Recent attacks on the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Commission (EFCC), Mallam Ibrahim Magu, is a sad reminder of the high level of crime and criminality in the country and the need to do the needful by appropriate security agencies in ensuring that there is adequate protection of lives and property in the land, especially for a top public officer manning an anti-graft agency.
The EFCC, which confirmed the attack on the property of its Acting Chairman, said if the development had resulted in the death of a policeman, who was attached to the building, even though the property is not the current residence of the EFCC boss, who currently lives in the Maitama area of the Federal Capital Territory while the attacked property is a farmhouse located in Karshi, a suburb of Abuja. However, the anti-graft agency had insisted that although it would not want to guess about the rationale behind the attack, but it would not be intimidated in its poise to tackling corruption in the country.
Before the latest onslaught, just about four months ago, some gunmen allegedly attacked the agency’s office in Abuja, which is the annex office, where high-profile suspects are said to be investigated. The gunmen, who were said to have stormed the facility very early in the morning, went a step further and dropped a death threat for a senior investigator, Ishaku Sharu, who heads the Foreign Exchange Malpractices Fraud. In the same breadth, the group of heavily armed bandits, who invaded the office, began shooting into the premises, damaging vehicles parked in the premises in the process. To show the degree of onslaught on its officers, EFCC had further claimed that most top personnel managing high-profile cases had been receiving one form of threat messages or another. The targeted officer, Sharu is said to be saddled with the ongoing probe of several politically-exposed persons and retired military chiefs in the country.
Similarly, EFCC earlier raised the alarm over an alleged plot to frame Magu with ownership of assets abroad. According to the commission, those behind the plot, which is believed to be part of a grand design to discredit the EFCC boss, had allegedly finalised plans to name him as the owner of choice properties in exotic locations outside Nigeria. The commission stated that the desperate cabal was purchasing properties and registering them in the name of Magu to make the plot real. They were also said to sponsoring some politicians that had information about the said property acquisitions.
Over the years, Magu had been a subject of controversy following his perceived determination and doggedness at fighting graft in the country. Before the attacks, the EFCC boss had suffered untold hardships and inadequate cooperation on the part of those that should ordinarily see him as partners in progress. They believe that he is not only high-handed, but also has a case to answer considering some corrupt allegations hanging over his neck.
For instance, to weaken his ability to turn around the anti-graft body, many observers feel that in inability of the upper legislative house to confirm his appointment as the substantive Chairman of the anti-graft agency, was an action that that was meant to be punitive for Magu’s posturing against corruption. Not only that, he has been seen as too courageous to initiate and keep trying suspects on graft matters; the perceived untouchables in the land, while it may be premature to conclude whether those being investigated or prosecuted are guilty or not, it is the statutory responsibility of the commission to curb corrupt practices in the country.
It is pertinent to mention that the effects of corruption in the life of any progressive nation are enormous. That is why concerted efforts are being made to nip the malaise in the bud. Bearing in mind that corruption would always fight back, the Federal Government’s war on against corruption may not go far unless the entrenched culture of graft and impunity is curbed. In a disturbing report, the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, said a total of $182 billion was siphoned from Nigeria between 2000 and 2009, alone. Therefore, colossal amount of funds that should have been used for commonwealth are cornered by few privileged persons.
It is on this ground that the Federal Government should leave no stone unturned in ensuring that a thorough investigation is carried out any without further delays. Failure to do this would discourage members from putting in their best in order to ensure that everything works well. It would also discourage patriotic citizens from serving their country. The attacks should not be treated with levity but with all seriousness. Borrowing from the position of a Muslim group, the Muslim Rights Concern, the incidence is nothing, but a plot my some influential persons to eliminate the Magu.
The group has accused powerful corrupt politicians of trying hard to silence Magu while demanding round-the-clock impregnable security network around the person of Magu, his house as well as members of his nuclear family, warning that no option should be underestimated, including his consumables and the possibility of the use of explosives anywhere around his vicinity. This is not asking for too much because any successor of Magu would have been intimidated if the latter is eventually eliminated. The implication of this for the war against graft is better imagined, the group said.
The Inspector-General of Police should ensure that the security personnel deployed to the EFCC Acting Chairman is fortified. A proper investigation should be carried out into the incessant attacks on the commission and its staff. This is the least that should be carried out without delay. Rather than resorting into barbaric and unconventional approach to flee from facing corrupt allegations, the instrumentality of the law should be explored by all parties. Why anybody should think the elimination of an active player in the anti-graft war is the solution. Is the anti-graft war about Magu alone? If he’s eliminated, would proceedings stop? Would the havoc caused by large-scale corruption be waived aside with the silencing of one man? These are questions that those running after Magu should ask themselves, and if try to answer. Then, they’ll need to rethink on what they are out to achieve, if they really choose to.