It is no more news that Ibrahim Magu is not in control of the reins of power at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. Magu, a Commissioner of Police, held the fort as the Acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency for over five years, albeit without the approval of the Nigerian Senate which twice rejected his nomination to head the agency in a substantive capacity.
Though attempts were made to debunk report of his arrest on July 6 by operatives of the Department of State Service, DSS, however, Magu, remained in detention and was subsequently suspended from his position pending the conclusion of the investigation of allegations levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN. Both Magu and Malami were appointed in 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari of the All Progressives Congress, APC, few months after he successfully wrestled power away from then-incumbent President, Goodluck Jonathan and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. Considering that anti-corruption war stood as a major plank of the agenda of the President Buhari-led administration, on November 9, 2015, Magu was appointed the Acting Chairman of the EFCC. His appointment came after President Buhari sacked Ibrahim Lamorde who headed the agency under former President Jonathan. Two days after Magu’s appointment, President Buhari, on November 11, 2015, made Malami the AGF to head the Ministry of Justice. Statutorily, Magu’s EFCC is under Malami’s purview as the Minister of Justice. Malami equally constitutionally supervises activities of the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission, ICPC, the DSS, National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, NDLEA, National Agency for the Prohibition of Traffic in Persons, NAPTIP, and the Nigeria Police Force, NPF. Meanwhile, not long after the first meeting Malami held with heads of all the institutions, did the battle for supremacy and the attendant resistance, began between him and Magu. At the heart of a prolonged cold war that ensued between the duo, was loot and asset recovery. Who should be in control of alleged loots recovered both within and outside the country? Should the loot recovery unit be domiciled with the EFCC or the Ministry of Justice? Whereas Malami insisted that the Ministry of Justice, being the body that oversights the EFCC, ought to be in charge of all recovered loot, on the other hand, Magu, refused to bulge, being at the helm of affairs of the investigating agency, he preferred to be in charge of the recoveries, admitting to rather keep them in the custody of the Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN. Magu’s argument was that it was always the practice, wondering why it should change under Malami. Consequently, Malami and Magu endured a frosty relationship, but continued their in-fighting till the middle of 2017, when the situation worsened. As Exclusively reported by Vanguard on August 8, 2017, the subterranean cold war between the duo reached feverish heights after Magu shunned request to handover case files of more than 35 ex-governors to Malami. To hit back at Magu, Malami continued to champion the separation of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, NFIU, from the EFCC. The AGF had in a memo marked HAGF/SH/2016/Vol.1/2, urged Buhari to as a matter of urgency, expedite the process of securing autonomy for the NFIU which has been under the control of EFCC since it was established in 2006. According to section 1(2) (c) of the EFCC Act, it is the NFIU that has “the responsibility of coordinating the various institutions involved in the fight against money laundering and enforcement of all laws dealing with economic and financial crimes in Nigeria”. The Egmont Group of national financial intelligence units, had at its 24th Plenary that held in China in July 2017, suspended Nigeria for what it termed lack of independence of the NFIU from the EFCC. The group, at the meeting where about 354 participants representing 112 Financial Intelligence Units were in attendance, anchored its decision to axe Nigeria, for repeated failure to protect confidential information relating to Suspicious Transaction Report (STR) derived from international exchanges, which it made available to the NFIU.