By Ademola Adeleye
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has been suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The suspension according to sources followed Magu’s indictment by a Presidential panel led by Justice Ayo Salami (rtd) which was constituted to probe activities of the EFCC under Magu’s leadership.
Magu’s suspension it was also learnt was to enable him concentrate on his case before the panel.
The anti corruption tsar was ‘arrested’ on the streets of Abuja yesterday while on his way to honor a scheduled appointment at the Police Force Headquarters.
” I want to be treated like a suspect,” Magu allegedly told policemen as he was being led into an office space where he would spend his first night under detention at the Force Criminal Investigation Department (FCID).
As a high profile detainee, Magu had the privilege of more comfortable lodgings pending the determination of his case but the anti-corruption tsar who is himself now under corruption investigation insisted he be treated no differently from any other suspect.
“I won’t go and sleep in any office, I prefer to be in a cell. Kindly put me in a cell. That is what Allah wants for me, I cannot question God,” Magu reportedly demanded.
Since his detention, some rights groups have been advocating for fair treatment for him, same treatment Magu allegedly did not give many of his own suspects, but rather engaged in pre hearing media trial.
Magu has been accused of premature exposures of investigations to the media with the aim of tarnishing the images of those perceived as opponents of President Buhari.
Magu’s modus -operandi appears to be to release sensitive information about a pending case to some of his favoured media houses in order to whip up sentiments against the yet-to-be-accused, effectively using the media to conclude the trials instead of the law court.
“As Saraki bags title in Zamfara, society now rewards thieves, treasury looters with Chieftaincy titles,” Magu says, screams a headline from Newsrescue.com .
Bukola Saraki, a two-term governor of Kwara state and immediate past Senate President of Nigeria was a constant subject of Magu’s media trial.
Former Minister of Petroleum, Deziani Madueke also suffered unrelentingly from Magu’s unfair exposure to media.
But Magu had shrugged off criticism of his methods saying the term is merely a gimmick by corrupt people to cover their crimes.
“There is nothing like media trial,” Magu cried. It was at the launch of “Corruption Buster’s 2017,” in Lagos.
” The term is a gimmick by corrupt people to hid the truth. If you are a thief, you should be exposed, if you have looted the public fund, we will expose you, there is nothing wrong in that.”
Indeed Magu may not be aware of the rights of an accused to be presumed innocent until pronounced guilty by a court of law, so throwing all his hats into the ring is all that is fair, in war.
“There is no one strategy in fighting corruption. Whatever weapon you have should be thrown at corrupt personalities to chase them out and expose them…..so just use your strategic thinking and apply whatever strategy available to you to defeat the circumstances,” Magu said.
A one-sided affair
Magu has also been accused of targeting opponents of the President even though he was quick to point out three former governors and members of the ruling party: Rev Jolly Nyame, former governor of Taraba state, Chief Joshua Dariye, governor Plateau state and Orji Uzor Kalu of Abia state.
But during the campaign towards the 2019 General Election, Magu was spotted wearing a campaign lapel of President Buhari With many of his supporters coming to his defence.
Magu has also been denied confirmation twice by the Saraki -led Senate citing a letter of indictment from the Department of State Security (DSS), alleging various acts of corruption.
Long walk to freedom
Magu’s traivails have been attributed to friction between him and the Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami.
But rights activists are already lining up to send support to the embattled Chairman. The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project ( SERAP) said shortly after his ‘arrest’.
As Magu begins his second day of trial and possibly detention, one thing that would be uppermost in his mind would be the kind of strategy his accusers are using against him. Afterall, he also had once been a master of ” no one strategy in fighting corruption.”