Corrupt People Chasing Me Everywhere – EFCC Chair, Magu
Ibrahim Magu is the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He spoke to Daily Trust on his agency’s role in the fight against corruption, the hurdles he faces as the head, his non-confirmation by the Senate, and other issues. Herewith, are excerpts:
Daily Trust: How, would you say, has non-confirmation by the Senate affected your work?
Ibrahim Magu: Mine is a thankless job. The moment you are given an assignment, you concentrate, you go all the way without expecting anybody to appreciate what you are doing. But as long as you are convinced that what you are doing is right, you move forward. It hasn’t affected me. There is no mental pressure. People think I’m always under pressure, but I sleep very well.
DT: Are there things that you could have done as a confirmed chairman of EFCC that you cannot do as an acting head?
Magu: No. I have executive powers.
DT: Why is the Senate adamantly against your confirmation?
Magu: It is your duty to find that out, not for me tell you. I think you should know better, but the reasons are very obvious.
DT: What is the level of buying into the anti-corruption war by Nigerians, in your view?
Magu: What I want is for everybody to join the fight against corruption, whether in law enforcement or not, because we need everybody on ground. Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge in fighting corruption, I emphasize that.
I visited the Nigeria Universities Commission, and appealed to the management, that we want to bring all the vice chancellors in one room and talk to them, and bring them on board, because there is a lot of corruption right in the university system.
We will also appeal to them to create a course unit to emphasize anti-corruption, whether you are in sciences or the arts, so that every youngster will grow with that in mind. It would help in wiping out corruption in its own way.
DT: But there are people who think that a large part of the problem in Nigeria is that people who commit crimes go free. Now you’re talking about going to the theory part?
Magu: I just want everybody on board in the fight against corruption. It’s part of our mandate. It’s the preventive aspect of anti-corruption, so we want to create awareness. It’s a strategy in the fight against corruption, as it’s not every time and every day you arrest people and prosecute them. As we speak, people are being prosecuted, people are being arrested, people are being investigated.
DT: What do you think should be done to speed-up the process of prosecution of corruption cases with serious punishment for offenders to serve deterrent, especially for politically exposed persons?
Magu: Mine stops at investigating and taking the matter to court, and providing the essential evidence and witnesses. I have very young officers who go to court and face a lot of SANs. There’s a case during which we had about 31 SANs against one small boy lawyer who is just ten years into the profession. Why should somebody carry so many SANs to court, and use all type of language to intimidate the judges?
DT: What, would you say, is the biggest stumbling block you have in the fight against corruption?
Magu: Corruption fighting back. Corrupt people fighting back, basically. They are chasing me everywhere.
DT: Why is it important that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) remains domiciled in the EFCC?
Magu: Because EFCC is one of the most credible law enforcement agencies around. If you look at the recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force, it says the most effective financial intelligence units in the world are domiciled in law enforcement.
DT: How effective is the whistleblower policy?
Magu: We are working with it, but the experience is not very good. In most cases, the information comes, you go there and you don’t see anything, and it becomes a source of embarrassment. So, we are very cautious before we implement the follow-up.
DT: What are the challenges you face getting back looted funds from foreign countries?
Magu: There are some improvements compared to what we had before, there is a very good arrangement going on between us and Dubai, USA, etc. I must tell you that these people are very reluctant to return our money. We are really trying to make sure they return the money. Sometimes they don’t even want to state how much was actually involved.
DT: What informed the decision of the EFCC training its cadets at the Nigerian Defence Academy in Kaduna?
Magu: Our own academy does not have sufficient space to train the number of people we really want, and I discovered that the old site of the NDA had some usable space, and that’s why I approached the authorities to use it. But we have applied for a place for the EFCC academy in Kaduna to develop.
There is no military angle to the training. We just want to bring in some discipline, because the challenges they will face are much more than what I’m facing now. If there is no discipline, things will not work well.
DT: What is your typical working day like?
Magu: Like this morning, I went to the police cantonment and played squash. Then before I go out of the house in the morning, I make a lot of calls, I speak to my boys who are working in the zonal offices. I’m quite hands-on. Then there’s no closing time, really. Sometimes you have to just leave the office because you need some rest.
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