Op-ed: What is Delaying Magu’s Confirmation?
By Abdulahi Jubrin
The Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu is a deeply passionate anti-corruption fighter. His zeal and commitment to the job is unrivalled. Yet he has been in acting capacity for the past five years. Why?
A combative EFCC boss should ordinarily be confirmed within few months. From the Senate to the Presidency, the puzzle is a riddle. If for five years, Magu’s records has not impressed the powers that be to confirm him, who should be blamed? What exactly is wrong? Who are the fifth columnists behind the delay? Are they within the commission or outside?
Is it the methods adopted by the commission in its operations ? Is it the perception of the public? Is it the question of media trial for which many think the Commission is guilty of? Is it the perception of politicisation of cases which may be true or not ? Is it the thinking that handling of investigation is shallow and sordid? Or is it simply about enemies within and without plotting to bring down the commission leadership?
First, many are finding it difficult to believe politics is responsible. As much as former Senate leadership withheld confirmation due to political or any other considerations, the same cannot be said of Lawan leadership. The new Senate leadership probably has no axe to grind with Mr. Magu. Equally, a new leadership of secret service is not the same as the old caucus. What then is holding down Magu’s confirmation?
Is the President not satisfied with Magu’s performance ? Here again ,the situation is complex. The multiple power centers at the Presidency complicates permutations. The attendance of the President at the Kaduna event of EFCC can be interpreted as a subtle endorsement of the Kanuri cop. Is that not enough to earn him a confirmation ?
Beyond all the above, confirming Magu may in many ways accelerate the anti-corruption war. First, it will stabilise his leadership and enable him to focus on instituting best practices which many believe are presently lacking.Yes. Best practices. A stabilised leadership will enforce standard norms, leading to reflection of best practices in the investigation and prosecution of financial crimes. As things stand, an acting leadership appears susceptible to undue pressure from various murky quarters. Such individual is at the mercy of political players who demand favour which cannot be turned down. Confirmation will strengthen the hands of the leadership to enforce discipline among investigative and prosecution staff.
It is not disputable that Magu suffers from chronic pressure from several forces who hold confirmation as a sword of Damocles on his head. How can an official give his best when he is acting without confirmation in an office for the past five years? How can investigative and prosecution discipline be enforced when the leader is not sure of his sustainability and survival? The EFCC leadership is in an hostage scenario.
But Magu can help the process by making certain adjustments in the operation of the Commission. While his leadership has recorded many great outcomes, his leadership needs to rein in perpetrators of media trial. An ongoing investigation should never be released as final indictment. Reports of ongoing investigation should not be issued to the media.Dilligent investigation is a strong pre-condition for successful prosecution.
Why is the above important ? Adoption of media trial weakens credibility of the commission; it dents the its records among local and international audience; it reduces the esteem and confidence even of the appointing authority. Worst still, it grants suspects public and even judicial sympathy. A major risk is that prosecutorial success is impeded.
International investigative procedures must be adhered to in all circumstances.
Doing such will do a lot of good for the leadership. The appointing authority will develop implicit confidence that the right thing will always be done. The public will become the ultimate defender of the commission leadership. The guilty will acknowledge that the process is free and fair; and more critically, the leadership of the commission will satisfy itself as a public official with conscience.
Is nobody noticing it? Is Magu himself not aware of happening around him? Is the system.under him undermining his own credibility ? Increasingly ,the perception of the commission as a political tool for witchhunt is gaining ground ,both locally and internationally. Whether rightly or wrongly,recent developments paint the commission as cooking up allegations to bring down potentials political rivals.A great disservice is being done to a commission on which so much hope is invested.
Before the last note, it is pertinent to add that the success of the anti-corruption war is a must, demanding support of all and sundry. Yet, enforcement of due process and best practices are compulsory to get at the guilty, to jail culprits and to protect the innocents. We must never destroy the hard earned reputation of innocent Nigerians due to biased,politicised and prejudicial handling of investigation. Sordid investigation destroys reputation of innocents.
Last point-Appointing and approving authorities should expedite confirmation of Magu. That will probably mark a new point in the anti-corruption war when unbiased investigations and true due process will govern all the time.
* Jibrin sent this piece from Faggae ,Kano city.