Barristers & Solicitors
Prosecute Magu, don’t persecute him
Sonala Olumhense

In 2015, policeman Ibrahim Magu, a celebrated anti-corruption champion-turned-victim at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, was brought back by President Muhammadu Buhari and appointed to lead the agency.

It seemed a fitting reward for a man who had developed a good reputation but was then victimised by Farida Waziri, who took over from pioneer chairman Nuhu Ribadu as substantive chairperson.  When Waziri was fired and Magu took over, I was one of many Nigerians who thought a Daniel had come to judgement.

To locate the stand, kindly call kindly Call 0704444477707044444999 & 08181999888 

“…It is to Magu that Buhari has now given the keys to the EFCC, in a major vote of confidence,” I wrote in November 2015, soon after the appointment was made. “We now get to learn if the Robin Hood stories of Magu are true, in which case we will see what happens to Goliath in the near future; or if they were made up, in which case he also becomes exposed.”

Magu appeared determined to prove that he was made of steel.  Among others, in August 2017 he announced the recovery of N409 billion nationwide in just eight months.  The commission had also secured 137 convictions.

“Between January and August 30, 2017, the EFCC recovered N409,270,706,686.75; $69,501,156.67; 231,118.69 Pounds; 610,816.20 Euros; Dirham 443,400.00; and 70,500.00 Saudi Riyal,” he said.  It had also just recovered over N329 billion from a group of oil marketers for the NNPC, he added.

And then in March 2019 he disclosed that between 2015 and 2019—in Buhari’s first term—over N1.3 trillion had been stolen from Nigeria by just 32 persons, including corporate bodies.

It must be remembered that Magu served only as acting chairman of the EFCC.  On two occasions, the Senate refused to confirm his appointment, rumours swirling about an ‘unfavourable’ DSS report on him.

And then on July 6, 2020, Magu’s leadership of the agency came to an abrupt halt.  On his way to work, he was arrested on the streets.  At first, the Department of State Services denied the report, as did the EFCC, which said Magu had merely gone to the presidential villa in honour of a Presidential Panel reviewing the commission’s work.

As it would turn out, Magu had not merely been arrested.  He was thrown into detention, suspended from his job, and then replaced.

He faced a presidential panel headed by the respected Justice Ayo Salami which, inaugurated three days before his arrest, was given 45 days to investigate the Magu EFCC from 2015 to May 2020 (but curiously not the 36 days until Magu’s arrest).

Within two months, it was learned that the panel had written an interim report recommending that Magu be prosecuted for corruption and abuse of office.

Only days before Magu’s arrest, ThisDay had reported Abubakar Malami, the Attorney-General of the Federation and allegedly Minister of Justice, as having recommended to Buhari that Magu be fired, citing “diversion of recovered loot, insubordination and misconduct” among others, and naming three potential successors.

Within one week of Magu’s arrest, The PUNCH published an extensive report of the power tussle between Malami and Magu over Nigeria’s new Eldorado of recovered assets.

They included luxury homes in Nigeria and various countries, ships, boats, trucks, trailers, tankers, cars, and various petroleum products.  [Other accounts cited shopping malls, hotels and aircraft].

According to The PUNCH, there was also the small matter of the vast haul of jewelry reportedly worth $40m, that had been recovered from ex-petroleum minister, Mrs Diezani Alison-Madueke, highlighted by “419 bangles, 315 rings, 304 earrings, 267 necklaces, 189 wristwatches, 174 earrings, 78 bracelets, 77 brooches and 74 pendants; along with luxury homes in Nigeria, United States and the United Kingdom.

I do not know Magu’s story.  I have never met the man.  I do recall, however, that in his written defence following his arrest, he declared that his EFCC distributed some of the assets it had recovered to some government bodies, including the presidency.

The Justice Salami panel submitted its final report to Mr Buhari on November 20, 2020, having taken about five months for a 45-day assignment.  For nearly two years, the report disappeared for nearly two years until this month when snippets of it began to appear in the newspapers.

That same November 2020, mark you, was curiously also the month that Buhari ordered Malami to sell off all assets which had been forfeited to the government.  That implied thousands of items, from relevant agencies, including all those assets that Magu supposedly had under his control at the EFCC.  The ‘Malami Market’ was open for business.

The Justice Salami report presents Magu as more of a monster than an anti-corruption chief.  Among others, according to news reports, not only did he abandon 14 fraud cases involving N118 billion and $309 million, he had also failed to remit to the government another N48 billion in recovered foreign and local currencies.

In addition, Magu could not could not account for N431 million in security votes for his office between 2015-2020, apparently spending the money on such personal expenses as his private electricity and cable subscription bills.

If this is a true account of Magu, in an era in which the government is “fighting corruption,”why is he not being prosecuted?

And particularly because Buhari claims to be “fighting corruption,” why is AGF Malami not defending his own ethics before a court or a presidential panel, given that he continues to face a slew of allegations.  He has repeatedly lied to the public repeatedly, and been sued by SERAP?

In addition to those allegations, none of which he has discharged, it was Malami—shedding fake tears about “the principles of accountability and transparency”—who in 2020 and 2021 sold the federal government assets, in their thousands, in near-complete secrecy?

But how can Nigerians have faith in Buhari, Malami or their government when they do not care whether Nigerians believe they may have shared those assets among themselves?  In what other country can shamelessness such as this be advertised as governance, let alone “fighting corruption”?

How is Magu guilty and Malami promoted to son-in-law? Did not someone say, “if we don’t kill corruption, corruption will kill Nigeria”?

Given that Nigeria is dying, it is evident that you cannot have democracy without justice. And justice often means the brutal interrogation of history, and a name—ask Sani Abacha—that is laughed at for a long time.

Speaking of history, following the scandal that Buhari sent luxury motor vehicles to Niger Republic worth N1.14bn, Finance Minister Zainab Ahmed defended the right of the president to such a decision, saying, “This is not the first time that Nigeria has assisted Niger Republic, Cameroon or Chad.”

Niger has now flatly denied ever receiving such largesse from Nigeria, Minister of Defence Alkassoum Indatou almost calling the lie by name.

Three things ought now to happen.  One: a detailed explanation of this hoax, and an independent investigation into where the money went.  Two: a comprehensive declaration of the donations Mrs. Ahmed confirmed Buhari has been giving to Nigeria’s neighbours.  Three: resignations.  My prediction: none of these things will happen.


Call Taiwo Owoeye Esq. for further enquiries on 08168877265 or send email to