A group of human rights lawyers, Coalition of Public Interests Lawyers and Advocates, has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to relieve the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, of his duty following allegations of corruption against him from different quarters.
The group made the call in a statement issued in Abuja on Tuesday by its Convener, Pelumi Olajengbesi.
Olajengbesi stated that Magu’s continued stay in the country’s anti-corruption office when he had corruption allegations levelled against him made mockery of President Buhari’s fight against corruption.
According to him, Magu’s lack of transparency in the management of recovered loots is part of the reason behind the petition by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to the President.
He said: “It is imperative for the public to recall that acting on an indicting report from the Department of State Service (DSS), on corrupt practices against Magu, the 8th National Assembly refused to confirm his nomination as substantive EFCC chairman.
“Most public opinion at that time called for replacement of Magu as EFCC chairman; a legislative and public outcry that was curiously ignored by Mr President, and regrettably today, Magu’s leadership has continued to be blighted by corruption allegations.
“There have been little done on his part to dispute the allegations or more importantly, the accusation of his numerous owned private properties in Dubai and the mismanagement of public fund.
“Magu’s continuance in office might mean that the president is concerned about raising strong men than strong institutions, and might also mean that he is ready to sacrifice the integrity of a critical institution to reward loyalty to him.
“Also, any further or delayed action as per the removal of Magu as acting Chairman of the EFCC will be lending legitimacy to his position as acting chairman about five years and on.
“This is a procedural abnormality in civil service not contemplated by our laws or public service culture.”
Olajengbesi advised the President to ensure that the EFCC was protected at all cost from rot and disrepute, considering its importance to the economy as the corner-stone agency in the country’s fight against corruption.
The COPA convener noted that there were competent people in the country that would pilot the affairs of the agency without fear or favour, and who would bring fresh atmosphere to its leadership.
He added: “The Ibrahim Magu-led EFCC is a luxury that can no longer be tolerated as it is a disservice to the country’s anti-corruption war, and encourages ‘strongman politics’ as against solid institutional systems.”
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that Magu was on Monday interrogated by a presidential panel investigating allegations of wrongdoing against him.
The interrogation took place at the State House and he was accompanied by one of the EFCC lawyers, Rotimi Oyedepo.