Ibrahim Magu: Hero Or Villain?

By Isa Tijjani Mni

“Cry The Beloved Country,” is the title of a book written by Alan Paton, the renowned South African novelist.

Those privileged enough to have read this great work of African literature are always captivated by the many of its life changing lessons.

Given the disturbing quandary in which the ongoing fight against corruption in Nigeria finds itself in recent time, it will not be altogether out of place, to very strongly recommend that our dear president must devote quality time to peruse the pearls of wisdom hidden in the many pages penned by Alan Paton in his well celebrated anti-corruption anthology.

The unfortunate derailment of our nation’s popular anti-corruption crusade is without doubt, the culmination of some vexatious and contrived charges which were being labeled against the suspended Chairman of EFCC Mr. Ibrahim Magu, by a handful of highly placed and equally well connected individuals.

The bold and confident approaches that hitherto characterized the fight against corruption under the able leadership of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, have since given way to undisguised prevarications, shameless skepticisms and the fear of stepping on the big toes of the corrupt, but, powerful individuals.

The much admired EFCC has been caged, forced and drastically reduced to chasing yahoo boys instead of the real high placed criminals that are dangerously running our country a ground.

This is happening as the show of power and who call the shots occasioned by the crass vendetta and abuse of confidence reposed in the AGF by the President. Unfortunately the fight has transcended the shores of our land to the comity of nations.

Recent reports has it that our country has further gone down the scale used in measuring the fight against corruption or corruption itself by the transparency international. You may disagree or hate them but they are taken serious the world over.

Some adduce this incidence of going down the scale to the unceremonious suspension and miscarriage of Justice meted to Magu on unsubstantiated claims.

In this case, it is my opinion that the President should be free of blame simply because he accepted and acted on the advice of a ‘trusted’ ally. I must also be quick to say that this type of blind trust given to subordinates is the bane of administration.

It is on record that the whole despicable scenario started with a memo to the President on the issue, the AGF and his office did not only betray the trust reposed on them but were unable to substantiate the viral claim of misdemeanor against Magu, how could the chief petitioner refuse to appear before the commission of inquiry? Hiding under a constitutional lacuna which is faulty and open to ridicule.

To make matters worse, a retired Justice that rose to the position of the President of the court of appeal whom people revere including myself allowed himself to be used as an undertaker in a case he knew little to nothing about. I stand to be corrected, for I am not sure the Justice really believed in what he did. We had a petitioner, judge and witness who gave testimony behind the doors of the Commission. In the foregoing, can we say or can Nigeria say to have won? Is Nigeria better off now in the fight against corruption. Is it fair to sacrifice the good of the entire nation to the whims and caprices of an individual who is privileged to hold an office a strategic one for that matter.

How are we sure there are no clandestine and criminal compromise to the deterrent of the nation in the cause of discharging his duties.

My initial expectations was that Magu will be challenged on dereliction of duty, malfeasance, lack of passion for the job and of dedication to the cause of the fight. I remember with disappointment how he was alleged to have sold seized petrol in vessels, only for documents to surface showing how the AGF and his office sold the product. In a sane and serious society, that is enough a reason for the AGF to turn in his resignation letter.

I did not even mention the brazen daylight show of shame in accosting and arresting a senior serving police officer on the streets who goes with police escorts. But for luck, if his aides had resisted there could have been a gory and bloody scene possibly resulting in the hitting of innocent passer byes.

As a serving police officer, Magu was detained for ten days in the force headquarters even when no charge has been mentioned. Though his senior, who is the custodian of the service to which he belong i e the IG said they are not the ones holding him. He only succeeded in further confusing the drama because no one has ever had that the force headquarters is a hotel that Magu can go to seek luxury.

What is adding salt to injury is the lack of the release of the findings of the panel. For the avoidance of doubt, no one is blindly supporting Magu. If he has a case to answer he should be charged to a court of law to face the music of his crimes or be reinstated as a mark of justice. This would be justice to which the President is celebrated on the world over. Hate or love him Magu is a victor that needs to be celebrated in this case. I further go ahead to respectfully urge the President to do some utmost circumspection of advices forwarded to him by his subordinates before he acts no matter how close the ally could be.

Tijjani MNI, is a Kano based labour veteran.

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