President Muhammadu Buhari Saturday broke silence on the travails of the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
The President explained that the guiding principle of his administration is that there are no sacred cows, adding that when allegations are made against the chief executive officer of an institution, the chief executive officer has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.
Buhari noted that a series of documented allegations were made against EFCC under the leadership of Magu, which led to the constitution of an investigative panel in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.
“A series of documented allegations were made against the Ag. Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Following a preliminary review of the allegations leveled against the Ag. Chairman and several other members of his staff, there were grounds for a detailed investigation to be conducted.
“Hence, an investigative panel was constituted in compliance with the extant laws governing the convening of such a body.
“As is the proper procedure, when allegations are made against the Chief Executive of an institution, and in this case an institution that ought to be seen as beyond reproach, the Chief Executive has to step down from his post and allow for a transparent and unhindered investigation.
“EFCC does not revolve around the personality of an individual, and as such cannot be seen through the prism of any individual.
“Therefore, the suspension of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, allows the institution to continue carrying out its mandate without the cloud of investigation hanging over its head.
“EFCC has many good, hardworking men and women who are committed to its ideal and ensuring that the wealth of our country isn’t plundered and wherein there is an act of misappropriation such person(s) are brought to justice,” Buhari said, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu.
The statement added that the embattled EFCC acting chairman was being given opportunity to defend himself in accordance to the rule of law.
“Mr. Magu is being availed the opportunity to defend himself and answer the allegations against him. This is how it should be, as is the fact that under the laws of Nigeria every citizen is presumed and remains innocent until proven guilty.
“We must realise that the fight against corruption is not a static event, but a dynamic and ever evolving process, in which the EFCC is just one actor; and as we continue to work towards improving our democratic process so shall every institution of ours also embark on that journey of evolution.
“What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize that they would be held to account. This is the building block in the fight against corruption, the establishment of the concept of Accountability and the recognition of the rule of law.
“Those who see Mr. Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat.
“There is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system.
“Under this President and Government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered.
“Mr. Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government.
“No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation,” the statement pointed out.
Meanwhile, the President has urged African leaders to ensure the immediate actualisation of the Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR), as the continent celebrated Anti-Corruption Day on July 11.
Buhari, in a letter to President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, Chairman of African Union, asked for a re-commitment to the anti-corruption war by leaders on the continent to engender an “integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.”
The Nigerian President, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, lamented that “the massive corruption being perpetrated across our national governments has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that have worsened the socioeconomic and political situation in Africa.”
The letter by Buhari reads in part: “As Your Excellency is aware, the continental fight against corruption has been premised on an irreducible minimum that can pave the way for Africa’s transformation.
“In this effort, the emphasis has been on the continent’s collective determination to forge resilient partnerships among our national governments, civil society organisations and other interest groups, such as women, youth and the physically challenged, to ensure improved socio-economic, political and security development and ultimately, the improvement of our continent.
“The concern of the African Union is that the massive corruption being perpetuated across our national governments, has created a huge governance deficit that has in turn created negative consequences that have worsened the socio-economic and political situation in Africa.
“Your Excellency may recall that these continental concerns led our colleagues at the African Union, to appoint my humble self as the African Union Anti-Corruption Champion. I believe that the efforts and focus of the Nigerian Government at home, partly informed this decision as well as the need for Africa, as a continent, to recommit herself to the fight against corruption and the imperative to free resources for meaningful development.
“I am, therefore, in full support of the call for the issuance of a continental message to commemorate this day, on July 11, 2020, to re-commit the African Union to the continental fight against corruption, including through a robust approach to assets recovery, hence the need for a strategic framework on a Common African Position on Assets Recovery (CAPAR).
“Happily, in February 2020, at the 33rd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the African Union in Addis Ababa, CAPAR was adopted. In my view, the African Union must go beyond the mere annual celebration of the Africa Anti-Corruption Day by moving swiftly to operationalize the African Common Position on Assets Recovery by all member states. This is an excellent way to drive Africa’s Agenda 2063, for an ‘integrated, prosperous and peaceful Africa, driven by its own citizens, representing a dynamic force in the international arena.’
“As current Chair of our Union, I sincerely commend to you, this suggestion that seeks to call our leaders in Africa to recommit ourselves to this very important task of reclaiming our continent from the vice of systemic corruption.
“Please accept, Your Excellency and Dear Brother, the assurances of my highest consideration.”