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Stemming the Tide of Official Corruption in Nigeria (Part II)

In continuation of our narration of ‘NIGERIA: MONUMENT OF WASTE’, we shall beam our searchlight on another incident which is not less notorious than the one earlier narrated.

DRAMA TITLE: NIGERIA: MOVEMENT OF WASTE

ACT TWO, SCENE ONE:  MAGU-GATE

DRAMATIS PERSONAE:
The dramatic personae in this second epic drama are the former Chairman of EFCC (Economic and Financial Crimes Commission) Ibrahim Magu, the AGF (the Attorney General of the Federation) Malam Shehu Malami, the silent ‘actors’ who are the masked members of the ‘Aso Cabal’ behind the curtain, and the members of the jury constituted to try Ibrahim Magu.

SYNOPSIS:
Let us take a synoptic account of Act Two, Scene One, nay, “Magu-Gate” of our drama presentation.

This second episode was held in ‘Camera’ (behind the scene), so our knowledge of the events behind the curtain was restricted to the ‘approved’ information released to the Nigerian public space by the media representatives who were allowed inside the stage.

In a trending COVID-19 language, the stage actors were ‘quarantined’ from public view.

To a greater or lesser extent, it is also not impossible that the full details of the proceedings, sorry, the stage act, were also ‘quarantined’ from public view because the jury (which was constituted by the accuser in something that resembled an accuser becoming the judge) was also both the Studio Director, and the Drama Announcer in a military court-marital format which never favored the accused.

In fact, this episode was so unique that no input was sought from or obtained from external sources, unless those provided by the accuser. What they expected from Nigerians was simply to hail and clap for them.

The presence of media correspondents in the stage had little meaning because the drama was staged in a highly-guarded and well-secured environment right inside one of the sprawling chambers, sorry, stage halls inside the grand ‘Aso’ theatre.

This is to say that whether gagged or not gagged, the media correspondents in their correct senses dare not report ‘rubbish’, otherwise, they would be risking possible embargo to admittance next time.

The information that we got is that the AGF had issues with the EFCC Chairman as regards property and other assets seized from economic criminals. He wrote a petition to the President,  Mohammadu Buhari and the petition landed the EFCC Chairman into hot soup.

Several sieges were laid on him, and eventually, he was apprehended and questioned for diverting monetary and other resources seized from corrupt erstwhile government officials and converted those resources to private use. A jury was hurriedly assembled to investigate Ibrahim Magu, a Police officer.

With the type of pillage leveled against the man which the accusers say runs into trillions of Naira, Nigerians were shocked and wondered who will police the police man when the Police man has failed in policing himself and policing other people who he is supposed to police.

The international community was also not in less shock. The U.S.A (United States of America), Britain, and even Dubai (United Arab Emirates, U.A.E.)  where much of the monetary resources of Nigeria have gone into real estate investments said that they are watching Nigeria.

This is a big pity – even Dubai, the poor and dry country of yester-years who was begging Nigerian businessmen and investors, including myself as a young businessman during the late Seventies and the early Eighties when we were in Onitsha, inundating our Private Mail Bags (PMB) with tourist information, assuring us of free visa on Port of Entry (P.O.E) with highly-subsidized air tickets, hotel rooms and Resident Permit (R.P), if we needed the later, is watching Nigeria. The confused giant, sink. What a big pity!

DRAMA REVIEW:
The storyline, which is the kernel of the imbroglio is that the Ministry of Justice as the Advisory/Supervisory Ministry under which the EFCC and other anti-graft agencies are lumped together desired to influence, or possibly control all decisions of the Chairman of the EFCC, who felt the Ministers influence was overshooting his boundary of Advisory/ Supervisory, and pushing into the executive powers of the EFCC Chairman.

The first observation in the storyline is that the two public servants ‘fought’ for selfish reasons, and not for Nigeria or the rest of us. In that fight, they tried to engage the sentiments of Nigerians to what least bothered us. They also squandered our resource while the struggle lasted, dissipating energy on the wrong direction.
It would have benefited us if they fought on core issues of management and perfection of the porous operation of the EFCC, especially in matters of litigation where many Nigerian Lawyers, including  a young and vibrant S.A.N (Senior Advocate of Nigeria), who is also a serving Minister of State in a Federal Ministry were fingered to have hit the gold mine on sandy soils through betrayal and sabotage amounting to double-dealing activities and failure in diligent prosecution of court cases for Nigeria whom they represent as counsels, to secure the conviction of suspected economic criminals charged with economic crimes.

Many of such cases were either ‘mellowed’ down for, or entirely lost to the suspects while the government and Nigeria through the EFCC lost cases that would have served as deterrents to corruption and economic crimes against Nigeria.

Reading between the lines, one observes that while ‘Contractors on Rampage’ is a true and real story, ‘Magu-Gate’, by all indications, looks like a fiction built on real life stories scripted by some powerful members of the ‘Aso Cabal’ who are bent on, and seriously devoted to unseating and disgracing Ibrahim Magu.

This is not to give the embattled police officer a clean bill of satisfactory public service, but looking more deeply into the matter and taking cognizance of the travails of Ibrahim Magu which made it impossible for him to progress from his acting capacity of the chairmanship of EFCC for five years to a substantive position over these five years, one observers that all the stories and allegations by his traducers  cannot  really add up, and this disconnect easily gives a careful observer the impression that  there  is  more  to the accusations that  meets the eye.

On several occasions in the Kaleidoscope, I have observed that the ‘Aruna’ (unbeliever) factor in political king-making and public service appointment in Nigeria has been hyped by the present central government. The ‘Aruna’ factor may have played out in ‘Magu-Gate’.

The Pastor of an Abuja-based Church was fingered by the accusers of Ibrahim Magu. The Pastor was alleged to have assisted Magu to purchase a house in Dubai, thereby being the conduit pipe through which several hundreds of millions of naira was laundered to Dubai.

In a jiffy, the Pastor responded and collaborated what the security agencies who may have watched, trailed, spied on, and investigated Magu before their report was compiled, given to their principal and made public – evidently knew – that the EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu, was not only a member of his church, but also slept in his church, most probably in Christian night vigils.

It is not my intention here to discuss the morality or legality of a Pastor laundering money for a corrupt public servant, because that can be taken care of by some provisions of the law which already exist in our statutes. What I am interested in revealing to whosever cares to listen is that there is no difference between worshipping God in either a church or a mosque if one actually has a personal relationship with God. My own experience is that you get the same feeling and fulfillment.

But this is my view and experience which may not be the view of some people who sit at the helms of power in Nigeria. The truth is that in the type of country we live today, Magu’s membership of a church is enough to cost him his job.

Ibrahim Magu, being a Muslim (for which reason he may have been entrusted with the high office in a major anti-graft agency in Nigeria), ran the risk of being considered as both an infidel a betrayer, or an outright ‘Aruna’.

Obviously, to have an ‘Aruna’ head of a most important Anti-graft agency as the EFCC in a country where the implementation of a pre-conceived, silent ethno-religious agenda has made it both conceivable and possible to unconstitutionally retain beyond their constitutionally- approved tenors, Service Chiefs, whose appointments did not in the first place reflect the much ‘mouthed’ ‘federal character’, will be unacceptable to the powers-that-be.

This same belligerence of the powers-that-be is responsible, despite the resounding disapproval from sundry quarters, for the approval by the President of Federal Republic of Nigeria, of an improperly-constituted and lop-sided membership of the Appellate Court, all of which point to the implementation of a game-plan to perpetuate an ethino-religious agenda.

DRAMA CRITIQUE:
In ‘Magu-gate’, the Attorney General of the Federation took Nigerians on a roller coaster ride. If he knew that nothing would come out of the inquiry, why did he cry wolf where none existed.

In Nigerian parlance, he ‘used our heads’ to achieve his purpose of easing out his perceived enemy.

By his actions, the Attorney General confirmed the suspicion by Nigerians that a power tussle which had torn asunder the government of President Mohammadu Buhari, rendering it both ineffective and redundant, actually existed and played out in Aso Rock. With the events of ‘Magu-gate’ proceeded by the death of Mallam Abbar Kyri, the Attorney General of the Federation seems to have effectively succeeded in installing and crowning himself as the new Czar in Nigeria’s seat of power.

The President acknowledged that both ‘Contractors on Rampage’ and ‘Magu-gate’ are embarrassments to his fight against corruption. That was well said and we have heard it the umpteenth time. The question is that, what has he done to stop the trend, if his concern is really genuine. Is he not aware of peoples’ perception about his government, or does he not care to know? If he does not know, let me tell him here that Nigerians believe that he is only pretending to fight corruption while he is encouraging it closed door because his key officers who made it possible for him to attain the position of the President are all sunk in and swimming in corruption.

Without ‘romancing’ the truth: ‘Mr. President, most of your key officers are thieves, robbers, and you have refused to catch them. Leading by example, it seems Mr. President, that you want all Nigerians to be thieves, but just to be cautious never to be caught as your close friends do. Mr. President, if you are truly sincere in fighting corruption, reverse this trend now before all Nigerians become thieves, making a Guinness Book of World Record of a country of thieves.

A simple and elementary study of the subject usually referred to as ‘Government’ in secondary schools shows that the Executive system of Democratic Presidency invests much powers (power to hire, to fire, and to veto), on the President. That is why the word ‘executive’ is appended and prefixed to ‘President’.

The power of an Executive President is so vast that he can overrule even the decisions of the legislature (as in applying the ‘veto’ power over malignant debate in the House) and that of the Judiciary (as happen during Presidential prerogative of Mercy and State pardon). Ordinarily the Legislature and the Judiciary are meant to checkmate the excesses of an Executive President, yet practically, an executive President can actually have his way in almost everything.

With great respect and honor to him, a much-respected elder statesman, who, by all means, have ‘paid his dues’, I hold the President, Mohammadu Buhari responsible for all that is happening in the country today. Mr. President cannot continue to keep his reputation of an incorruptible man of very high integrity in a highly-corrupt and corrupted leadership under his watch. That reputation has been smashed because Mr. President has become an accomplice by his negligence and failure to use the vast powers invested on him which he willingly, without duress, assumed under oath, to, among other things, fire corrupt officials and hire others.

Mr. President is not the Messiah Nigerians thought he is Apart from having failed Nigeria and Nigerians, history will regard him as a willing accomplice who is regarded in Nigerian law as being as much guilty as the accused persons in destroying Nigeria.

Looking deeper into ‘Magu-Gate,’ two questions arise in my mind:

1. Why was Magu still in the acting capacity as the Chairman of EFCC until his ouster?

2. Who in the Government sat on his chances to be confirmed as the substantive head of the EFCC?

The answer to question two may give a clue to the answer to question one and both answers provide the reason for the properly cooked up stories which led to both his travails and ouster. Is it not reasonable to think that Magu’s traducers were taken unawares for Magu to have been given the job, because there seem to be a deep-rooted background in the scheming that eventually nailed and removed Magu. Be that as it may, events of ‘Magu-gate’ have inevitably shown that both his non-confirmation as the substantive head of the EFCC since 2015, and his travails and ouster may have derived from the same source which made those bogus charges and hyped it using some media channels. The source of the petition against Magu, Nigerians already know, is the Attorney General of the Federation, Malam Shehu Malam.

This logic and understanding gives credence to the suspicion across Nigeria that the coincidence that Magu’s problems peaked after the death of the former Chief of Staff to the President, Malam Abbar Kyari, exposes a power tussle in Aso Rock between the power bloc known in Nigerian parlance as ‘cabals’ represented by the late Chief of Staff, and another power bloc represented by the Attorney General of the Federation, wherefore death has robbed one of the power blocs ( the one to which Magu belonged) of their leader, leaving its followers to the whims and caprices and at the mercy of the power bloc with  the Attorney General at the head.

TO BE CONCLUDED…..

ABUCHI OBIORA
abuchiobiora@gmail.com

FOR:
Global Upfront Newspaper
www.globalupfront.com

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