…Akeredolu’s comment on Magu thoughtless – Sagay
By Ayo Fadimu
The controversy surrounding the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr Ibrahim Magu has divided the ranks of governors elected on the platform of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Nigerian NewsDirect has learnt.
Nigerian NewsDirect learnt that some governors loyal to the Aso Rock cabals do not want Magu to be confirmed as the substantive Chairman of the anti-graft agency. They cited the damning security report by the Directorate of State Security Service against Magu as reason for their action.
However, other governors feel the wish of President Muhammadu Buhari who forwarded Magu’s nomination to the Senate on two occasions should be respected.
However, insider sources informed Nigerian NewsDirect that the Director General of DSS, Lawal Daura is also part of the Aso Rock cabals who are in control of the presidency.
Magu in a recent newspaper interview said the major stumbling block to the anti-corruption war is that corruption is fighting back.
“Corrupt people fighting back, basically. They are chasing me everywhere” Magu said.
It will be recalled that the Governor of Zamfara State and Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Abdulaziz Yari was dragged before Justice Dimgba Igwe of Federal High court Abuja
The court ordered an interim forfeiture of the sums of N500million and $500,000 said to have been looted from the Paris Club refunds made by the Federal Government in favour of the 36 states of the federation.
The sums of money said to have been recovered from two firms, First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited, and Gosh Projects Limited were allegedly linked to Yari, one of the powerful brokers in APC.
EFCC had alleged that the sums of money were fraudulently diverted from the NGF’s bank account on the instruction of Yari.
The commission also alleged, in an affidavit filed in support of its ex parte application seeking the interim forfeiture of the sums of money, that the N500m was diverted to offset Yari’s personal loan obtained from the First Generation Mortgage Bank Limited.
It also alleged that the second firm, Gosh Projects Limited, utilized most of the proceeds of the alleged loot, transferred to it for the purchase of building materials for Yari’s 100-room hotel project in Lagos.
Gosh Projects was also said to have used part of the looted funds for the purchase of treasury bills and transfers to offshore accounts.
But at the weekend, Ondo State governor, Mr Rotimi Akeredolu, advised the Presidency to pick a replacement for Magu as chairman of EFCC if the Senate would still not clear him.
Akeredolu said the country must not be allowed to grind to a halt over the non-clearance of Magu because “we have more than 1,001 people who can be chairman of the EFCC.”
The Senate had twice refused to clear Magu on account on damning security reports it received from the Department of State Services (DSS), which predicated the reports on the failure of Magu to pass integrity test.
The governor spoke on Saturday in Ibadan, Oyo State, on Political Circuit, a radio programme anchored by Isaac Brown on Fresh F.M.
He punctured the claim in some quarters that the Senate needed not clear Magu before he could function as EFCC chair, asking rhetorically, “If the Senate did not need to clear him, why was his name sent there in the first instance?”
“For me, the issue has to do with interpretation of the law. I think the Senate has gone to court over it. Let the Supreme Court determine what the status of the law is. The argument arose as to whether the Senate needed to clear him.
“My take on this is: If the Senate did not need to clear him, why was his name sent there in the first instance? The Presidency must clear the air on that. Then the argument changed that his clearance is in the EFCC Act and not in the constitution. But it is there.
“Is the Act in conflict with the constitution? If it is not, then you have to apply it. It is a grey area for now and needs the imprimatur of the Supreme Court to decide where we go from there.
“The Supreme Court can ask the question: Have you had an EFCC chairman who was not cleared by the Senate? That can be raised. It can say then we have established a convention that he must be cleared. The clearance is provided for in the EFCC Act and so why don’t we go by it?
“The Supreme Court can also explain if the provision in the EFCC Act is in conflict with the constitution it will explain how that happens. We have wonderful Judges everywhere and the way we give interpretation is different. It may be subjective.
“For me, I know what I believe. I don’t see any reason for instance why the clearance must not be sought. If the Senate decides it will not clear Magu, then the Presidency should pick another person,” he said.
However, in an exclusive interview with Nigerian NewsDirect, the Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee against Corruption (PACAC) Prof Itse Sagay described Akeredolu’s comment as thoughtless.
Sagay who confessed that he liked the Ondo State governor, who was his former student at University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University) a lot for his brilliance. He however, expressed shock to hear him (Akeredolu) make such statement.
Sagay described the comment made by Akeredolu that there are more than 1001 capable and honest Nigerians that can handle EFCC job very well as fallacy, saying Akeredolu must be living in the moon.
“Honest men are rarity in Nigeria, when you found one like Magu, you nurture him well” Sagay said.
In a similar vein, Auwal Musa-Rafsanjan, the Head of Transparency International, Nigeria also told Nigerian NewsDirect correspondent that anyone who is interested in the fight against corruption in the country should support Magu.
He described the statement credited to Akeredolu as weightless and unhealthy. He suggested that Magu and EFCC should not be demoralized in their fight against corruption and enjoined anyone without positive comment on the anti-corruption war to keep quiet.
Similarly, the Executive Director of Centre for human rights and conflict resolution, Lokoja, Comrade Idris Abdul gave thumps up for Magu in his anti-corruption war.
While noting that Akeredolu and any other person have the right to their opinion on everything and every issue, he advised those against managerial skill of Magu to come up with ideas on how to make EFCC better.
In his reaction, the Director of Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC), Prof Ishaq Akintola described Akeredolu’s demand for Magu’s replacement as misplaced.
Akintola in an interaction with Nigerian NewsDirect said, “Our politicians should acclimatize themselves with the Magu phenomenon. Only those who have skeletons in their cupboards will nurse fears about Magu at the helm in the EFCC. Or those seeking a pound of flesh like senators who are under investigation. The Federal Government should not succumb to this blackmail over Magu. EFCC will be destroyed once you remove Magu because his successor will treat these thieves as sacred cows”.
Akintola insisted that Magu must be allowed to do his job. “He is doing well as it is and the only reason politicians want him removed is that he doesn’t listen to them. He is not giving anyone preferential treatment. This is the kind of anti-graft boss Nigerians need today” the Professor of Islamic Eschatology said.