Acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, is one man who is much dreaded in the country at the moment. Both in the public and private sectors, his name send quivers through the spines of public servants, especially those who have something to do with public funds. There is, however, nothing strange about him, save for the fact that he is the captain of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption ship. The anti-graft czar paid a courtesy visit to the corporate headquarters of LEADERSHIP Newspapers Group where he fielded questions from editors and management staff of the media organisation on the activities of the commission.
What prompted this August visit?
I am here just to thank you for your support and urge you not to get tired as well as appeal to you to continue to stand by the truth and nothing but the truth. I urge you to maintain that record LEADERSHIP Newspaper is known for and continue to sensitize Nigerians on the fight against corruption. I want you to partner with us; if we don’t do this this time around it will take a long time. It is like corruption is being celebrated in the country, but it shouldn’t be allowed to continue. We want you to continue to support the course of anti-corruption. As journalists, you are also corruption fighters and you have a better stance of sensitizing Nigerians. Let people know that corruption is bad and that unless we chase out corruption, we cannot succeed. All these agitations going on in the country are as a result of corruption. Every Nigerian has a responsibility of sensitising Nigerians against corruption. There is no one best strategy to fighting corruption; just fight it. God has anointed you as journalists to fight corruption.
Some Nigerians believe strongly that EFCC engages more in media trial than doing the main job. They argue that this, coupled with lack of synergy among the security agencies in the country, is adversely affecting the war against corruption. Some have specifically cited the frosty relationship between EFCC and the office of the Attorney General of the Federation as a case in point. What do you have to say?
Affecting the war against corruption how? I have not lost any high profile case since I came on board. I have not lost any case apart from the Oransoy’s case. Secondly, I have no problem with the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation. By my character, I am a disciplined person. Naturally, I am a disciplined person and I respect constituted authority. There is no question of frosty relationship here. I have not less than 12 prosecutors from the office of AGF working under me. We have lawyers from AGF who are working for us in all the offices in EFCC and they are assigned by the AGF. So, I don’t know the lack of synergy you are talking about.
But you wouldn’t say you don’t have any problem with the Department of State Security. Would you?
I believe that in the fight against corruption you should carry everybody along because the monster is everywhere. Unless you use every weapon within your arsenal, you will only be engaging in a wild goose chase. You cannot arrogate the knowledge of fighting corruption to yourself alone. So, if you must do this why should we have issues with anybody or a sister agency
The Senate has consistently maintained its ground that you are not worthy to be EFCC chairman having failed integrity test. One of the lawmakers in the Red Chamber even claimed that your mates are DPOs in divisional Police stations and that there is nothing that makes it mandatory that you must be the one at the helm of the anti-graft agency. One would have expected that you say ‘since they don’t want me, let me graciously resign for the sake of my reputation’, but you seem not to be bothered about, even when you were also accused of fraud. How do you feel doing this job?
(Cuts in) The man who said that my mates are DPO’s never met me at the University. I think my mates in the Force answered him. I am talking about the commissioner of Police in Anambra and Cross River States. There are no assistant commissioners of Police who are my mates. The least of them is assistant commissioner of Police. I think it is ignorance. I have been in the Police Force for 28years now; I entered as a cadet. So, I don’t join issues with such people. Even my becoming commissioner of Police was belated. Some people became commissioner of police before me. What you must know is that the interest of the great masses of Nigerians supersedes in everything we do. The job we are doing is a thankless job. If you want somebody to thank you, you will not do it. That is why I am here. When the time comes for me to leave, I will leave. I know you have been trying. The media is the watch dog of the society and so, don’t be deterred.
Should the presidency succumb to the whims of the Senate and eventually drop you what, how would you feel?
I shouldn’t be the one to blow my trumpet. What we are doing will show itself. It is real; as long as we believe in what we are doing without expectation of reward we will succeed.
I am not bothered about Senate confirmation. As long as you are fighting corruption, corruption must fight back. This is corruption fighting back. A lot of things are going on on a daily basis. The hurdles are too much. I have never seen it like this. It is only God’s infinite mercy that is sustaining us. Luckily, we have a leadership that is committed to the fight against corruption. If we can’t do it this time, we should forget it, but it can be done. We have been able to create awareness. Prevention is an aspect of our job. It is not every day we arrest, detain and prosecute. This morning I was with the NUC to partner with them in sensitizing students against corruption. We have agreed to set up a task force to clampdown on mushroom universities collecting money from parents. The number of universities has gone up. We will close them down. I have also appealed to NUC to sensitize the youths.
Of recent, the EFCC resorted to going to markets places for sting operations. Some persons have alleged the way you mop up monies belonging to traders on the ground that they are stolen funds affects businesses.
I am not aware of EFCC going to the market place, but have you wondered why somebody should have 849 ATM cards, with the intention of flying abroad? It means this ATM cards are not the ordinary ones we have. It is not the one me and you have; it is not the naira card and he wants to go to Dubai to withdraw money. There is one incident, involving a Chinese national who had this brand of 5 Naira notes and he is trying to move them out. He is traveling abroad, one wonder what he is going to do with them. This has the capacity of weakening the value of naira because it will cause artificial scarcity. We have a responsibility of attracting foreign investors in the country.
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