A civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has called for the resignation of suspended Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, so as to salvage whatever is left of the image of the anti-graft body, NewsExpress reports.
In a statement on Thursday signed by Comrade Emmanuel Onwubuiko, National Coordinator and Miss Zainab Yusuf, National Director of Media Affairs, the group said: “If a man who is being alleged to have been entangled in the web of corruption is left to superintend over the anti-graft agency, it will make a mockery of the sincerity of President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration in fighting corruption.”
The group expressed worry that corruption has been so pervasive in Nigeria that it has turned public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise.
“Graft has fueled political violence, denied millions of Nigerians access to even the most basic health and education services, and reinforced police abuses and other widespread patterns of human rights violations.
“It would be recalled that in 2017, months after Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) and Lagos lawyer Femi Falana (SAN) publicly declared that the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Mr. Ibrahim Magu, does not require the confirmation of the Senate to be in office, his supporters renewed prayers for his confirmation by the Senate.
“Professor of Law and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Itse Sagay (SAN), who also toed Osinbajo and Falana’s line when Magu was rejected for a second time by the Senate in 2017, also urged the Senate to revisit Magu’s case.
“With the recent happenings, we are puzzled as to what informed the persistent demand for Magu’s confirmation, particularly from the authorities, without first clearing allegation of corruption against him and what is now delaying his outright removal from office or his resignation.
“We do not think it has anything to do with his performance as going by the records we are yet to see any feat in the anti-corruption war that makes him indispensable as a person, if at all there is still such a war going on.
“This development is both a moral burden on the executive, as well as the failure to observe global standards and best practices by a government that rode to power on the wings of integrity.”
The statement further said that the 8th Senate twice rejected the nomination of Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC, after the Department of State Security (DSS), reaffirmed its position that the nominee lacks integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.
“No one gives what he does not have. Being boastful is one thing, actual display of the position you boast of is another thing. For one to fail the examination he sets is the 9th wonder of the world. How long is Mr. Magu allowed to act under Nigerian law? Is it forever?
“The Executive Branch, through the DSS, questioned his fitness to occupy the office, and the 8th Senate agreed with it. But executive order has kept him there illegally for these years, and failed to clear him of the corruption baggage.
“He seems to have been crushed under the weight of the burden just like all his actions in office carried out under the burden. We were ab initio told by law, that he is not fit and proper to occupy the office by parliamentary authority. Anything else is void, no matter the attire it is clothed or coloured.
“Section 2(3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act 2004 provides that ‘the Chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President and appointment shall be subject to the confirmation of the Senate.
“The implication is that the reign of Magu as the Head of the EFCC never received the full blessing of statutory compliance. It is only hoped that the right step would urgently be taken especially now that his conduct in office has been marred with alleged financial misdeeds.
“It is rather disturbing, that a man who has been chairing an anti-corruption campaign (whether in acting or substantive capacity) has a DSS damning report over his head, which was not totally cleared. We do not intend to dabble into the politics of the issue. What is important is that the law should lead.
“No doubt, Magu’s probe has reminded us of the very short and witty contribution, human rights lawyer; Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) who had stated then that: ‘What goes around comes around.’ No one can hide behind a finger. No one can cover the sun with his palm. When the market is on fire, even the lame, deaf, dumb and blind will know because they will feel the heat.”
On the way forward, HURIWA said: “We believe that in spite of myriad of setbacks, a stronger and more independent EFCC represents Nigeria’s most promising avenue to make tangible progress in the fight against corruption. In large part, this is because the EFCC is the only Nigerian government institution that has posed meaningful challenge to the impunity enjoyed by corrupt and powerful members of the political elite.
“Our team believes that the character and capacity of the EFCC’s leadership is an important issue and therefore calls for the resignation of the embattled and suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC); Ibrahim Magu.
“We also restate our earlier call to the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel to expand the terms of reference to the period that Mr. Nuhu Ribadu headed the anti-graft body and also publicly invite interested Nigerians who had had one bad experiences or the other about their encounters with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC to send in memoranda and petitions.
“This is because, the anti-graft commission stinks of professional misconduct and auditing corruptions which should necessitate a more elaborate investigations by the Justice Ayo Salami led Presidential Panel of inquiry on EFCC.
“Additionally, we urge the Presidency to do more to fight corruption and strengthen the capacity and independence of key anti-corruption institutions, because, Corruption is at the heart of many of Nigeria’s most serious human rights problems,” it stated.