A coalition of International and National Civil Society Organisations has written to President Muhammadu Buhari that Friday’s suspension of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), may bring setback to the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
In the joint letter, dated July 9 and sent to President Buhari by Re:Common, Globalwitness and The Corner House based in Europe, the coalition said the removal of Magu under the current circumstances may undermine the momentous gains already recorded under his tenure.
The letter was signed by Lucas Manes of Re:Common; Nicholas Hildyard of Corner House; Simon Taylor of Globalwitness and their Nigerian counterpart, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA Resource Centre) Chairman, Olanrewaju Suraju.
The coalition expressed deep concern over the travails of Magu, saying that the suspended EFCC boss may be a pawn in the desperate attempts by corrupt officials to kill the EFCC or turn the agency into a willing tool of corrupt politicians.
Magu was formally suspended from office on Friday, according to a statement by the Attorney- General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.
The coalition said: “What is going on in Nigeria is of concern to the international community. Magu has proved himself to be up to the task.
His determination to fight corruption is evident by the recovery of stolen funds and properties plus his own high moral ground earned at the cost of diligence and hard work never before seen.
“His political removal questions the will of Nigeria to deal with a major cause of the country’s underdevelopment, which is corruption.”
The group further stated that as international organisations, they are alarmed that Magu was detained and suspended over allegations made by Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General. “We are, therefore, greatly alarmed – as are others in the international anticorruption movement – by reports that Magu has been detained and/or suspended following allegations against him that were reportedly made by Attorney General Malami directly to you,” the coalition noted.
However, the coalition said it was not opposed to Magu being investigated, but the disciplinary process has not been followed on the allegations levied against him.
“The procedures are clearly being hijacked by detractors of Magu in the political space and this is eroding the potential credibility of the outcome of the panel constituted to probe these allegations.
“We note that many of the allegations reportedly made by the Attorney General have already been investigated by the same Attorney General under your instruction in 2017 and that Magu was exonerated in respect of the corruption allegations.
“Only those related to insubordination were freshly levelled. We are concerned that accusations of “insubordination” risk crossing the line that ensures the independence of prosecutors from political interference,” the letter read.
It expressed hope that the president would look for a way to protect the achievements of the EFCC under Magu’s watch.