There is no doubt that Ibrahim Magu is a big fraud, as is now the official position of Buhari’s government. But he is only one of them, and only a part of the corruption network that constitutes, pervades and controls the Nigerian law enforcement. For Nigeria to tackle the problem posed by people like Magu, we must spread our hands and catch many of them at once. Otherwise, this is just a joke. Ibrahim Lamorde, Farida Waziri, and Nuhu Ribadu probably all did the same things, if not worse than, Magu. Yet, Nigeria not only allowed them to get away with it, but actually celebrate them as heroes in the county’s war against corruption.
Tge Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was naturally designed as a veritable instrument to control political competition in Nigeria, both on individual, ethnic or political party levels. Examples and illustrations of this assertion are bound. In 2007, three governors (Jolly Nyame and Orji Uzor Kalu – Christians – and one Governor – a Northern Muslim) were arrested and charged by the EFCC at the same time. Thirteen years later, Jolly Nyame is in prison convicted and Orji Uzor Kalu was falsely and unjustly convicted and imprisoned for 6 months and his global business conglomerate nearly totally destroyed. It took extraordinary chain of events for Orji Uzor Kalu to escape the machination of his political opponents acting through the instrumentality of the EFCC. Yet, in a shocking comparison, nobody even remembers the name of the Muslim Governor who was accused along along Kalu and Nyame because the Muslim-led EFCC mysteriously dropped all charges against the Muslim Governor.
Someone can reason that it was a Christian President who introduced EFCC. That is a true and valid argument. But a suitable reply to that reasoning is to remind such person that the Chinese first invented gunpowder. But they used gunpowder only for fireworks during celebrations and festivals. It was the Europeans that adapted gunpowder as means of propelling projectiles (bullets) against a target with destructive force. While the original inventors of gunpowder thought of fireworks and celebrations, the imperial and colonial minded conquerors of Europe saw the destructive force that gunpowder was capable of. The rest is history.
Whatever, Obasanjo had in mind when he conceived of EFCC, the commission was soon perverted and reimagined by individuals that led and used it as the most potent tool for political control and oppression in Nigeria. This was a stark reality that morning when Governor Odili of Rivers Statewas met in his hotel room by Nuhu Ribadu. Odili had worked so hard preparing himself to run for Presidency as successor to Obasanjo. He believed he had a strong chance. But in the morning of his party’s convention, Ribadu met him and showed him a file. The proposition could not be more stark: Odili would either renounce his political ambition and stay away from the convention or he would be accused of series of of acts of corruption, and his economic interests dismantled. That was the last anybody was to hear of Governor Odili in Nigerian politics. As simple as that.
We have endless examples of how the EFCC has operated over the years. They intimidate judges and cow them to a point where our judges become mere rubber stamps for the dictates of the EFCC. Any judge that dares to resist EFCC’s chokehold is targeted, isolated and set up for special humiliation and public disgrace. Recently, the EFCC targeted Justice Taiwo Taiwo of the Federal High Court, Abuja because he granted an application against the EFCC. The EFCC hunted him down all the way through the National Judicial Council which ultimately exonerated the judge at the last minute. But the intended damage was done. Justice Taiwo must now walk on eggshell as no judge wants many complaints lodged against him. Every judge in the country got the message – that they can end up answering to allegations and defending themselves against charges of misconduct if they rule against the EFCC interest. Justice Taiwo could take that risk because he is a particularly bright judge who knows where the boundaries are. But what of other judges more susceptible to manipulation and intimidation?
The decay and criminality within the EFCC touches every facet of that agency – from the leadership to the floor cleaner. Today, all over Nigeria, EFCC operatives and EFCC prosecutors, without exception, are robbing Nigerians blind – initiating false investigations, blackmailing and ruining people’s reputations through manipulated and fake media, and instituting false prosecutions and extorting anyone they could.
As another startling example, why is Olisah Metuh in prison, charged and convicted of knowingly receiving money from Sambo Dasuki, the then National Security Advider, which money was alleged to be the proceeds of a crime? In fact, Dasuki has not been convicted of any crime and may never be convicted of any crime. So what crime did the received money proceed from? The only valid explanation to Metuh’s predicament is that the ruling party needed to settle scores against Metuh for his searing politicking against that party in the runup to the 2015 elections. And the EFCC was the agency for such score settling.
The question is where will the current Magu allegations lead us. We have here two sets of questions – the small questions and the big questions. The small questions see Magu as the problem and believe that uprooting Magu would solve the problem. The big questions see the EFCC as the problem and believe that we need to fundamentally overhaul the EFCC or disband it altogether. Buhari’s administration seems to focus on the small questions. That won’t be enough and that will not cure the crisis.
Time has come for Nigerians to understand that the EFCC is here to maintain the injustice and imbalances that have characterized the Nigerian society from inception. The injustice is maintained when one part of the country uses the apparatus of Government to hold down the rest of the country and block their growth and relevance. That is why EFCC has focused its investigations and prosecutions primarily on people other than the Hausa Fulani Muslims. How many times have EFCC operatives raided Ahmadu Bello University hostels in search of “Yahoo boys”? But they are making daily runs on the hostels of University of Nigeria and other universities in the southern part of Nigeria.
Nigerians must now stand up against the biggest scam of our generation, which is what EFCC is. The problem is bigger than one man called Magu.