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Anti-Corruption: Magu Hints EFCC Is Currently Undergoing Internal ‘Cleansing’

By Tajudeen Balogun, Head, Nigeria Bureau, Lagos

Tactically admitting challenge of compromise on its personnel, the Nigerian anti-graft body – Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has given hint on the ongoing internal cleansing exercise of its workforce, so as to achieve impressive result in the current battle against corruption in the country.

The Commission’s Acting Executive Chairman, Ibrahim Magu made this public Monday, in Ikeja Lagos, while interacting with the Lagos based online publishers and some On Air Personalities.

While responding to alleged corruption within the agency, especially among its officials, Magu affirmed that total overhauling was ongoing in the body, to resolve the challenge of moral burden on the EFCC staffers.

Magu who reasoned that charity must begin from home, reiterated that there is no moral justification for a corrupt anti-graft agency and officials, investigating, arresting and prosecuting suspects for alleged corrupt practices and cases.

Responding on the perceived duplication of prosecution in the #Dasukigate arms scandal, the EFCC Chairman indicated that it was not possible for the Commission to collapse all the cases under the same scam, due to variance in the circumstances of each of the arrested or yet to be arrested suspects.

Magu who lamented that the agency is faced with the challenge of personnel, responded that the Commission as it did in 2006 on some cases is favourably disposed to setting up special courts to try financial crime and other corruption related offences.

With respect to frequency and manner of arrest as well as the re-arrest of the suspects, Magu disclosed that there was no suspect the agency kept in the recent times, for more than between 10 and 15 days. He hinted that the APC Chieftain, Jafaru Isa who was recently arrested by the EFCC over the collection of N170 Million from the former National Security Adviser, Col. Sambo Dasuki (rtd), has returned substantial part of the diverted money.

He however defended that the EFCC could not be blamed for dragged, failed and incomplete corrupt cases as he complained that strong and powerful politicians compromised the judiciary which makes the final pronouncement on every case.

The Acting EFCC boss, vowed that under his watch, the Commission shall be more vigilant, stressing that no suspect, irrespective of the status or position would be spared in the renewed drive against corruption.

Magu recalled that the EFCC has in the past, expressed concern over the challenge in the local media on the crime reporting, a factor which he said informed training of journalists on criminal activities. He pledged the Commission under his headship, would sustain the empowerment scheme.

While appealing to journalist to be “circumspect” in crime reporting, Magu who urged Nigerians to avoid rhetoric in the ongoing corruption investigations and trials said the EFCC is not an agency for witch-hunt, saying “only those who have soiled their hands have reasons to be apprehensive”.

Magu also noted that the re-echo on zero tolerance to corruption by President Muhammadu Buhari during his maiden Media Chat in December 2015, especially as related to his resolve to sack and prosecute any of his cabinet members, alleged to involve in any corrupt case, was the final signal that the President’s determination in the battle was not in doubt.

Giving its power in public opinion formation, the EFCC Chairman asserted that the Commission needed the media support if it must make any headway in the ongoing campaign against corruption.

He appealed to the media practitioners to resist the temptation of being influenced by the strong politicians, adding, instead of being compromised, “the ethics of your profession, your conscience and overriding national interest “should be the watchwords.

The media, Magu added has a great role to play in helping to re-orientate people to embrace positive values, stating the EFCC “will stand side-by-side against the corrupt and work hand-in-hand to heal our country of the deep wounds inflicted by decades of unbridled grand corruption”.

While commenting on the recent ordeal of the former Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) boss, Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, the EFCC Head, Lagos Zone, Mr. Iliyasu Kwarbai, defended that the drama – forceful re-arrest of Akpobolokemi, was due to fresh evidence against him. Kwarbai explained further that the EFCC officials resorted to use of the “minimum force”, as the accused who he said has once jumped bail, failed to cooperate and comply.

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