Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the suspension of the boss of the country’s anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu days after he appeared an investigative panel.
The Nigerian Government said Magu’s suspension is to “allow for unhindered inquiry” by the panel investigating allegations of corruption against the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“EFCC Director of Operations, Mohammed Umar, should take charge and oversee the activities of the Commission pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigation and further directives in that regards,” Umar Jibrilu Gwandu, Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations in the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, said in a statement on Friday.
Magu was arrested on Monday by a combined team of Department of State Services (DSS) personnel and policemen at the Wuse II office of the EFCC to face an interagency committee investigating corruption allegations against him. He was suspended 24-hours after the first probe which extended to about four days.
He was detained at the FCID in Area 10, Abuja, on Monday night on the orders of the committee that also questioned him on Tuesday morning.
Consequently, a deputy police commissioner Mohammed Umar was appointed as EFCC acting chairman while Magu’s trial for alleged corruption continued.
Magu’s arrest came days after attorney-general of the federation (AGF) Abubakar Malami accused the anti-graft czar of gross infractions in a report where he recommended Magu’s sack to Buhari.
Malami also accused the suspended EFCC chairman of insubordination and using his office for gross misconduct.
The attorney general’s stance on Magu was, however, not the first time that the former EFCC chairman’s commitment to fighting corruption in the country has been questioned.
In 2016, the DSS in a report accused Magu of living in a N40m mansion paid for by one Umar Mohammed, a retired air commodore who is allegedly involved in shady deals.
“Magu is currently occupying a residence rented for N40m at N20m per annum. This accommodation was not paid [for] from the commission’s finances, but by one Umar Mohammed, air commodore retired, a questionable businessman who has subsequently been arrested by the secret service,” the DSS report in 2016 said.
“For the furnishing of the residence, Magu enlisted the Federal Capital Development Authority to award a contract to Africa Energy, a company owned by the same Mohammed, to furnish the residence at the cost of N43m.”
Citing the DSS report against Magu, the Nigerian Senate declined Buhari’s request to confirm Magu as substantive EFCC chairman twice – in 2016 and 2017.
In a letter addressed to the Senate President in January, Buhari said he believed Magu was capable of carrying his duty as the head of the anti-corruption outfit in line with the vision of the administration.
“Distinguished Senators, in view of my conviction, there is need to maintain the momentum of anti-graft fight, while I urge the Senate to reconsider Ibrahim Magu as substantive EFCC Chairman,” Buhari wrote in the letter.
Former chairman of Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Senate Dino Melaye insisted the integrity issues raised by the DSS in its letters were such that could not be wished away.
“Mr Ibrahim Magu, nominee for the position of the Chairman of the EFCC, the first report indicted you,” Melaye said.
“Anyone who wants to be chairman of EFCC must have the character and characteristics from the words of Caesar. You must be unblemished, you must be pure, and you must be stainless.”