Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), risks demotion from his rank of Commissioner of Police to either Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) or Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) if found guilty of the allegations leveled against him, Daily Independent has gathered.
Magu, who was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2015 to lead his administration’s anti-corruption efforts, was promoted to the rank of a full commissioner from deputy commissioner in April 2018 by the Police Service Commission (PSC).
Following a memo to President Muhammadu Buhari by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Magu was arrested on July 6 by security operatives at the Abuja zonal office of the commission on his way to a meeting and taken before the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential investigative panel.
The panel, sitting at the old Banquet Hall in Aso Villa, Abuja was set up by Buhari to investigate alleged mismanagement of recovered assets by the EFCC between May 2015 and May 2020 under Magu’s stewardship.
After 10 days in custody at Area 10, Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID), Magu, who has since been replaced by Mohammed Umar, a Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), was released on bail last week.
Speaking with Daily Independent on Sunday, a top security source, who has been following the development, said there is no way Magu can be exonerated from the allegations against him and the likelihood of his returning to his position as EFCC chairman is “very remote”.
According to him, Magu’s chances of being exonerated is very unlikely “since the allegations against him is coming from the supervising minister in charge of the agency he heads, that is the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami. It is a different thing if the petition came from the opposition parties or civil society organisations.
“No public official can escape a hostile investigation such as the one he is being subjected to. He may have committed some infractions no doubt. But those behind the probe are also not clean”, he said.
When asked if the trial has any political undertone, our source replied in the affirmative, saying some people in the establishment are unhappy over Magu’s refusal to investigate the petitions written against Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, former governor of Lagos and National Leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC).
Our source also said beyond what was stated the trial also has to do with the battle for the 2023 presidential election.
“It has everything to do with 2023. They see him as Asiwaju Bola Tinubu’s man. Some persons within the system wants EFCC to go after him which Magu has failed to do”, he said.
Daily Independent in its July 10, 2020 edition titled ‘How Petitions On Tinubu’s Bullion Vans Landed Magu In Trouble’ had already reported that “beyond what was publicly stated in Malami’s memo to the president, one major issue against Magu is his perceived selective investigation and refusal to investigate the bullion vans allegations even though President Buhari, who has made the war against corruption one of the three cardinal agenda of his administration, had given him “unfettered access to go all out and probe anyone irrespective of his status in the society”.
When asked if Magu can return to his position, our source said with a tone of finality, “He can never return. He is gone for good, In fact he may be recommended for demotion to the rank of Deputy Commissioner of Police or Assistant Commissioner of Police”.
Our source also said aside the memo from Malami, Magu had been having issues with the Police Service Commission, the body saddled with the responsibility of dismissing and exercising disciplinary control over police officers in the country, except the IGP.
He said, “The DSS report of 2016 that allegedly indicted Magu said in December 2010, the Police Service Commission (PSC) found Magu guilty of action prejudicial to state security – withholding of EFCC files, sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a police officer, and awarded him severe reprimand as punishment”.
Daily Independent recalled that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, pioneer chairman of the EFCC was also demoted from the rank of Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) in August 2008.
Also speaking with Daily Independent, Junaid Mohammed, elder statesman and Second Republic federal lawmaker, said even if Magu is exonerated, the damage to his integrity has been done already.
He also said if Magu is returned to his post which is very unlikely, there is no way he can function effectively without his top directors who have been suspended by President Buhari.
“Even if Magu is exonerated by the so-called presidential panel and returned, the damage has been done. I can’t see him coming back to pretend that nothing has happened. I can’t see him coming back alone without his directors, about 20 of them who have all been suspended.
“I don’t see him doing a great job if he alone is allowed to come back while his major directors are stripped of their responsibilities. That is not possible because a tree cannot make a forest.
“If in fact, under the current government and Attorney General, it has now become a crime to be loyal to the person who appointed you, then how do you expect the new directors to be loyal to Magu when they know he did not appoint them and cannot remove them? So, who is fooling who?” Mohammed said.
Mohammed, who also berated Malami for interfering in Magu’s job and demanding loyalty from him, also said the anti-corruption war which is one of the three cardinal programmes of the Buhari administration is dead.
“The anti-corruption war is over. Maybe another government or administration may attempt to resuscitate the war but at the moment, it is as good as dead,” he said