Four days after he was picked by Security Operatives, the Presidency is yet to officially communicate to Nigerians on the probe of the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu,
Also, no official statement has been issued on the suspension of the EFCC boss, just as Nigerians await a Presidential announcement on Magu’s successor.
There is confusion as to who is in charge of the anti-corruption Agency at the moment, following the detention of Magu, as some names have been flying in the Media, while relevant authorities keep mum.
Lawyers, anti-corruption Crusaders, and civil Society Groups, have knocked President Muhammadu Buhari and other Federal Government Officials, over the alleged “shoddy manner” in which the Magu debacle is being handled.
Since on Monday, July 6, 2020, when the Magu issue became public, the Presidency did not issue any official statement on the matter, leaving Nigerians guessing, and the Media speculating.
Magu, who is seen as the face of President Buhari’s corruption war, is being grilled by a Presidential Panel chaired by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami, over corruption allegations.
It was learnt that the existence of the Salami-led Presidential Panel, was not known until Magu was arrested on Monday.
Credible sources said that the Panel had been sitting in the last two weeks, and had reviewed “tons of documents, and interacted with other people before directing Security Operatives to bring Magu for interrogation”.
One of the credible sources stated that the Panel was constituted by President Buhari, to probe various allegations levelled against Magu, following a petition by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, and the Department of State Security Services, DSS.
However, on the day Magu was picked and taken to the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, there was no official communication.
The News Agency of Nigeria, NAN, reported that Mohammed Umar, a Deputy Commissioner of Police and Director of Operations at the EFCC, has been picked to oversee the affairs of the Agency in the absence of Magu.
It said that an anonymous source at the Agency stated that Umar was chosen by the “EFCC hierarchy”, following the reported suspension of Magu.
“The Commission had not received any official communication on the reported suspension…The Spokesman for the EFCC, Dele Oyewale, declined comments when contacted to confirm the latest development,” it said.
However, another source countered saying there is no official communication from the presidency to that effect.
“DCP Umar is only the most senior operation person in the agency and he has limitations as to what he can do…The truth is that things are not the way they should be,” he said.
According to him: “I heard it somewhere that he is there as a stop-gap-measure pending when a Substantive Chairman would be appointed after the President receives the final report of the Justice Salami panel.”
The Presidency also kept mum over the reported appointment of a new acting chairman for the EFCC.
While Presidential Spokesman, Garba Shehu, declined comments on the matter, the Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed, also refused to answer the question when asked during a briefing after the Federal Executive Council, FEC, meeting. Lai Mohammed said the best person to react to such a question was AGF Malami.
Meanwhile, Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, said Nigerians deserve to know what is going on with respect to the Magu issue.
Rafsanjani disclosed that citizens are being taken for a ride over the Magu saga adding that the unfolding drama was not good for the image of the country and its anti-corruption profile.
“There were denials and counter denials concerning Magu’s alleged arrest and suspension, leaving Nigerians in the dark. Nigerians deserve to know what is going on,” Rafsanjani said.
Also reacting, to the development, Paul Ananaba (SAN), said it would be unconstitutional to keep Magu in custody beyond 24 hours. He, however, said that he is unaware if the authorities had obtained a court order to that effect or whether he was in detention.
On the secrecy surrounding the investigation, he said between transparency and fairness, it depends on what the Presidency considers a priority in the circumstance.
“Sometimes, too much transparency can defeat the essence of investigation,” he said.
Also reacting, Dayo Akinlaja, SAN, said it is desirable that the public should not be kept in the dark over crucial issues concerning the country, adding that it is also the prerogative of the government to conduct administrative matters in the way and manner it deemed fit.
“In my own humble view, what is going on could still be regarded as administrative in nature. Without doubt, in the fullness of time, the public would have to be brought up to speed on what is going on. That being the case, what we can possibly do at the moment is just to keep our fingers crossed and wait with bated breath as events unfold,” he said.
On whether Magu has been detained beyond the legally allowed period of time, Akinlaja said the issue of legality or otherwise of keeping Magu beyond 48 hours would have been easier to respond to if not for the secrecy that enshrouds the whole issue.
In his view, Hameed Ajibola Jimoh said the attitude of the government conducting such investigation in secrecy is undemocratic because such secrecy puts the public in an unending confusion and gives way for unwarranted speculations, which could unsettle the country.
“It is definitely unlawful and unconstitutional for the Federal Government to have kept Magu in custody for more than the reasonable time of 48 hours permitted by the constitution. Magu may seek remedy in court to enforce his fundamental rights”, he said.