International anti corruption group kicks over Magu’s removal

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President Muhammadu Buhari has been warned that the unceremonious removal of the embattled Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu may roll back the momentous gains already recorded in the anti-corruption fight in the country.

Recalled that Magu was arrested last week and he is being detained over allegations of corruption and insubordination leveled against him by the Minister for Justice and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami. He is currently facing a prove panel set up by Buhari.

But Re:Common, Globalwitness and The Corner House based in Europe, in a letter to Buhari warned that Magu may be a pawn in the desperate attempts by corrupt officials to kill the EFCC or turn the agency into a willing tool of corrupt politicians.

The group said, “What is going on in Nigeria is of concern to the international community. Mr Magu has proved himself to be up to the task. His determination to fight corruption is evident by the recovery of stolen funds and properties plus his own high moral ground earned at the cost of diligence and hard work never before seen. His political removal questions the will of Nigeria to deal with a major cause of the country’s underdevelopment which is corruption.”

“We are therefore greatly alarmed – as are others in the international anti-corruption movement – by reports that Mr Magu has been detained and/or suspended following allegations against him that were reportedly made by Attorney General Malami directly to you.”

The group said the procedures to prove Magu “are clearly being hijacked by detractors of Magu in the political space and this is eroding the potential credibility of the outcome of the panel constituted to probe these allegations. The hounding of Magu through seemingly politically connected sponsored media harassment only makes matters worse.”

The group said it is impressed by the dedication of operatives of the commission and by the disciplined leadership shown by Magu.

“The agency is completely different from the sclerotic, timid, politically captured bureaucracy that it was in the previous period. The credit for this is due in large part to you for appointing Magu and sticking with him despite efforts to unseat him.”

“We note that many of the allegations reportedly made by the Attorney General have already been investigated by same Attorney General under your instruction in 2017 and that Magu was exonerated in respect of the corruption allegations: only those related to insubordination were freshly leveled. We are concerned that accusations of “insubordination” risk crossing the line that ensures the independence of prosecutors from political interference” adding that despite bearing false witness being illegal, no-one has been investigated or charged in relation to bringing the false allegations against Magu in 2017. It said this regrettably sends the wrong message to the international community.

“We realize that you have been placed in an invidious position by the Attorney General. However, we very much hope that you will find a way forward that protects the huge strides made by the EFCC under Magu’s acting chairmanship. We very much doubt if the Italian case would have reached the stage that it has without his committed and diligent response to Mutual Legal Assistance requests. At this critical stage in the trial, his replacement for political reasons would be wholly regrettable and would only give succor to those being prosecuted,” the groups said.

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