The Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, on Wednesday, said that more influential Nigerians would soon be arrested to face prosecution as the EFCC under him has reinvigorated the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
Magu, who made the disclosure during a forum with online and broadcast media managers, in Abuja, said since his appointment as acting chairman of the EFCC, he had undertaken the re-ordering of the agency’s priorities for effective implementation of its mandate.
According to him, “The effect of this, which is obvious for all to see, is the investigation, arrest and prosecution of some of the most powerful forces in Nigeria, who have questions to answer on their stewardship whilst in office.
“A former National Security Adviser, former ministers, former governors, serving and retired military men, a media mogul and several others, are among those we have called to answer critical questions concerning the management of our commonwealth.
“As we speak, many more influential Nigerians are on the radar of the EFCC and, in the coming weeks, they would have their days in court and Nigerians will be kept fully abreast of the results of our investigations.”
The EFCC boss said in carrying out the mandate of the commission, he has been guided by the “fear of God, national interest and the rule of law”.
Mr. Magu said apart from bringing corrupt public officers to justice, the EFCC under his leadership is determined, in line with the stance of the current administration under President Muhammadu Buhari to send “unmistakable message” to everyone, that no Nigerian shall be regarded as above the law or treated as sacred cow as far as the fight against corruption is concerned.
The EFCC chairman, however, said the commission cannot succeed in carrying out its mandate without the support of the media.
He said the EFCC already has the support of all relevant bodies and organizations.
He said he held a meeting with the president on Wednesday, and that the message from Mr. Buhari was nothing but total support for the agency.
“By far more inspirational is the political will of Mr. President to fight corruption. This unbending will, which some now call body language has given the needed traction to the anti-graft campaign,” he said.
Mr. Magu said Mr. Buhari’s resolve to fight corruption in Nigeria was underlined by his comments during his maiden media chat last Wednesday where he swore not to spare anyone found to be corrupt.
Mr. Magu quoted the president as saying, “I don’t …tolerate corruption. When I was Head of State, I didn’t put anybody above the law. At this time, I assure you, I will not put anybody above the law… If anyone is caught, I will not only sack (him or her) but will ensure that the case is taken to court”.
He added that the president’s resolve is complemented by that of the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Mahmud Mohammed, who, during the last All Nigerian Judges’ Conference, declared unwavering support for the war on corruption.
He added that at that same judges conference, Mr. Buhari expressed the concern of the Nigerian people for the undue delays experienced in the trial of corruption suspects.
The judiciary, he said, has responded with some practical steps in the form of the designation of selected courts to try EFCC cases and some practice directions.
“We believe that when holistically and effectively put into practice, the measures would drastically cut the time corruption cases spend in court before Nigerians know whether the accused is guilty as charged or innocent of the crime.
“As a Commission, the EFCC is very determined to put into productive effect, the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act, (ACJA), 2015. This law, which has been rightly labeled a legal “revolution,” by none other than Professor Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-corruption, could not have come at a better time than now, when Nigerians are yearning for justice.
“On the part of the EFCC, I can assure you that the effect of our even more penetrating investigations and commitment to rid Nigeria of all forms of corruption and economic and financial crimes can –and will continue to be– seen from the cases we take to court for trial,” he said.
No political witch hunt
Mr. Magu also responded to comments from participants at the forum that a lot of Nigerians have a feeling that the ongoing war against corruption appears targeted at members of the opposition.
He said by his orientation, he has nothing to with politics and is therefore, not doing the bidding of a political party.
“Such accusations have come up a lot, but, we work with petitions before us, in fact, I am eager and waiting for something from the other side, but nothing has come so far,” he said.
Mr. Magu also said he had never been a fan of plea bargaining, adding however that he works within the laws of the land.
The managing editor of PREMIUM TIMES, Musikilu Mojeed, who spoke on behalf of the President of the Guild of Corporate Online Publishers, Malachy Agbo, said the group is fully committed to the ongoing fight against corruption and pledged the support of members to the EFCC.
He also asked Mr. Magu to consider partnering with the group in training journalists.