Indications have emerged that President Muhammadu Buhari might have made up his mind to discard Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission going by his actions and body language. Although Buhari has characteristically not uttered a word since the current travails of Magu started, he has nevertheless before then taken certain actions indicative of the fact that his trust in the EFCC boss had begun to wane. Most notable among Buhari’s actions against Magu was his wholesale acceptance of the report of the three-man Presidential Audit Committee on the Recovered Assets, PACRA, which indicted the EFCC boss without his knowledge and input. Buhari had raised the panel to audit all assets recovered between May 29, 2015, and November 22, 2017, and gave them four months to turn in their report. However, the panel headed by Mr. Olufemi Dominic Lijadu, with Mohammed Nami as Secretary and Mrs. Gloria Bibigha as member, took ten months to complete the audit while Buhari formally accepted the report on September 11, 2018, and gave them a pat on the back for a ‘job well done’. Mr. President at the ceremony assured the panellists that he would take concrete steps to implement the report in order to eliminate corruption in MDAs. Ostensibly to demonstrate Buhari’s satisfaction with the members of the committee and its work, the three members were promptly rewarded with plump jobs by the Presidency. While the chairman of the committee, Mr Olufemi Dominic Lijadu, was rewarded with the chairmanship of the Security and Exchange Commission, SEC, the Secretary, Mr. Mohammed Nami was given the chairmanship of the Federal Inland Revenue Service, FIRS, while the only female member, Mrs. Gloria Bibigha, said to be a forensic accounting specialist, now works in the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation.
It was on the basis of the ‘report’, which raised several accusations against Magu-led EFCC, that the AGF based his recommendations to Buhari to replace him with any of the three persons he recommended, one of them being the current FCT Police Commissioner, Bala Ciroma. From the document, virtually all the allegations contained in Malami’s allegations against Magu, apart from those of insubordination, lack of cooperation to extradite former Petroleum Minister, Alison Diezani Madueke and lack of information to prosecute the Production and Industrial Development Company’s case, were lifted directly from the PACRA report, which Buhari forwarded to the Justice Ayo Salami Presidential Investigative Panel, which is currently probing Magu. The PACRA report is also the basis of the current feud between the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami and Magu. The anger that is currently boiling in Magu’s camp stems from the realisation that the PACRA committee, which seriously indicted him, did not deem it necessary to consult or speak to him throughout the ten months that they went to EFCC offices nationwide inspecting the assets that he risked his life and staff to seize from corrupt elements. A source in Magu’s camp said the suspended chairman felt short-changed by the committee, which provided the ‘false premise’ upon which he is now being subjected to unnecessary trial. “But curiously, this presidential committee did not get in touch or take up issues from Magu or the secretary to the commission over its findings. But they still went ahead and delivered a ‘report’ against Magu without giving him fair hearing and the report was accepted and acted on by the Presidency. “The panel visited the sites of the recovered assets by the EFCC nationwide but decided in its wisdom to ignore Magu, the custodian who suffered to recover these assets for the Federal Government of Nigeria. And to make matters worse, the President accepted the Report and proceeded to act on it,” the source lamented. It was also based on the submission of the Lijadu panel’s report that the Presidency boasted last week that there was documented evidence of allegations against Magu warranting the probe. The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media, Garba Shehu, who signed the statement said Nigerians should expect surprises from the probe panel but did not say what the surprises were and in what direction they would come. Magu is now under pressure to defend himself and he may have the opportunity to set sight on the gamut of allegations levied against him for the first time this week. He may also be allowed to submit his defence by the panel this week.