As More Groups Drum Support For Magu’s Renomination
Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN), chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC), has appealed to President Muhammadu Buhari to remove the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and the Independent Corrupt Practices and other related offences Commission (ICPC) from the control and supervision of the Ministry of Justice.
Speaking to Daily Independent on Sunday, Sagay said he is unhappy with frequent attempts by Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, to whittle down the powers of the two anti-corruption agencies, especially that of Ibrahim Magu, the acting EFCC chairman.
Sagay, whose committee has recommended Magu for reappointment by President Buhari for a second term, said it is worrisome that the Ministry of Justice headed by Malami is treating both the EFCC and ICPC as rivals while taking actions aimed at frustrating their efforts.
“I will strongly recommend that the EFCC and ICPC be taken away from the supervision of the Ministry of Justice. The regular interference of the ministry in their work is seriously slowing down the anti-corruption war”, he said.
On what can be done to remove the two agencies from the grip of Ministry of Justice, Sagay said the National Assembly should make an amendment to the laws establishing the two agencies by eliminating any reference from the Attorney General of the Federation or Ministry of Justice.
“It is just for the National Assembly to make an amendment of the Act to totally eliminate any reference to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice in the laws establishing the two organisations.
“Wherever you see the Attorney-General’s office referred to, in either the EFCC or the ICPC Act, then you just eliminate it. They should remove that section or clause so that there will no longer be any reference to the Minister of Justice again. They can also add that the authority of the organisations to investigate and prosecute any case of economic crimes or corruption, they are totally independent of any other body”.
Speaking further, Sagay said there are cases whereby the minister called for files of persons being prosecuted, thereby disrupting the free flow of work of the EFCC and ICPC.
“It will be very beneficial to the EFCC and ICPC because they won’t have the Ministry of Justice breathing down on their neck at regular intervals. They won’t have the Ministry of Justice asking them to bring the files of those who are being investigated and disrupting the investigation and prosecution of EFCC, which they do quite often. With the amendment, all that will end.
“There was an attempt recently to actually create another institution to take over the duties of the EFCC and ICPC but a lot of people kicked against it. The Ministry of Justice proposed a bill to create an agency to take over the duties of the two in investigating and prosecuting and also to take custody of recovered assets.
“The general consensus of those bodies concerned with financial crimes was that it is not necessary. They said at the very best we need an agency to manage recovered assets but not to investigate, arrest and prosecute because we already have both the EFCC and ICPC doing that. These are some of the interferences by the Ministry of Justice to whittle down the authority, freedom and capacity of those two agencies”.
On the lobby by some powerbrokers for Magu’s job, Sagay said given the feat achieved by Magu in the war against corruption since his appointment, the best decision by the presidency is to renominate him for a second term and present him to the Senate for confirmation.
According to him, anyone or group lobbying to have Magu replaced is an enemy of the country and are doing so for selfish reasons.
He added that his committee recommended Magu because they see him as a strong ally in the fight against corruption.
“We are passionate about excellence; we are passionate about good performance; we are passionate about merit, we are passionate about productivity, we are passionate about courage and we are passionate about excellence. That is what Magu represents and we know the danger of going to look for something elsewhere. We don’t want any mistake to be made about this issue so that we may not suffer any setback in the fight against corruption.
“Those lobbying are usually unworthy people. These are people who want to cash in on other people’s achievements and they will get there and mess up, bring down the organisation, compromise themselves and bow to all sorts of moneybags who have a lot of skeletons in their cupboards and huge amounts of money to dispense and then sell the whole country, sell the man who is supposed to strengthen up things. These are the people who are lobbying.
“Let me tell you this; anybody who is good will not lobby for a position. It is the unworthy who lobbies for positions because they know they don’t deserve it and they have no conscience. They think they have to be there at any cost so as to run down the organisations and the institutions. These are the people lobbying to become the EFCC chairman.
“If there is any honesty or integrity among Nigerians, no one should think of replacing Magu until he completes his second term. No one should think of it. Anybody doing that is doing it in bad faith; he is doing it against the interest of this country and for his personal aggrandizement at the expense of all of us.
“When something is good; when you see high quality, merit, dedication, and somebody who is courageous in the fight against corruption, I think it will be stupid to say you are looking for something outside”.
Daily Independent also gathered that several civil society organisations have written to the presidency on the need for Magu to be presented to the Senate as the substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency.
Also speaking on the controversy surrounding the tenure of Magu which has since ended in November last year, Prince Tony Momoh, a former Minister of Information, said he can operate in acting capacity as long as the president desires.
“Magu can act for 100 years. It is the president that appoints and it is his prerogative to determine how long someone stays in office. He calls the shots and the buck stops at his table”, he said.