Until a couple of days ago when the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF, and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, mentioned the name, Ibrahim Magu, many people had forgotten him.
This may sound surprising. But that is us in Nigeria. It is our mannerism. Our way of life. Nigerians don’t get bothered, too much, about many things. We don’t dwell on any subject for too long. We worry at that particular time, scream blue murder, but soon forget it. Somebody described it a general amnesia. I disagree. It is just that we are too busy, hustling for survival to bother.
That is why politicians take the people for granted. They do something unbecoming, we scream, but quickly forget. That is why, for example, a Senator Elisha Abboh, (remember him?), the woman-beater at an Abuja adult shop, will look us in the face, and tell us, seriously, of his plans to become the Governor of Adamawa State in 2023.
Nobody should blame this man. He was not punished for his shamelessness. After the ugly incident which went viral on WhatsApp, and other social media outlets, he still sits in the Senate, and prefixes his name with: “Distinguished Senator.”
In other climes, that would have marked the end of Abbo’s political career. In Japan, the Chairman of the Tokyo Olympics, Yoshiro Mori, stepped down because he dared say, during a meeting, that “Women are talkative.”
But here, a Senator Elisha Abbo publicly beats up a woman in her shop, sits tight in the Senate as a Senator, and prefixes his name with “Distinguished”.
It is because of our same attitude that the Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello, would be thinking of becoming Nigeria’s President come 2023. Here is a Governor who has not only shamed us here, but has put a question mark on Nigeria before the International Community, by his continued denial of the existence of COVID-19, and worse, propagating absolute falsehood about the deadliness of its Vaccine.
We can say the same thing of the Governor of Bauchi State, Bala Mohammed. This Governor, a couple of days ago, said the unbelievable. It is very okay, he said, for Fulani Herdsmen to carry AK 47 because of cattle rustling. By saying that, Governor Mohammed has endorsed illegal carrying of arms. He has also endorsed the killings and kidnappings of innocent citizens by rogue herdsmen.
On Sunday, Mohammed tried to clarify what he said, insisting he did not mean it that way, that he only meant to draw attention to the sufferings of the Fulani herdsmen, he left his clarification late. The harm had already been done. In the times we are, and on such a sensitive issue, there is no room for ambiguity from any leader.
Shocked, as most Nigerians were, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, dismissed his Bauchi colleague as an anarchist, not fit to hold any public office. Not a few people agree with Akeredolu.
In other climes, Governor Mohammed would have resigned from office for that chilling pronouncement.
Here, people are urging him to aspire to the office of the President in 2023.
But I have since digressed. I was talking about
Magu, and how not a few people have forgotten him and who he was.
A Commissioner of Police, Magu was, remember, the Acting Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. He held that position until July 7, 2020, when, acting on a damning letter to the President against him, by Malami, President Muhammadu Buhari “removed” from office.
Many people are of the opinion that the manner of his removal was not tidy. His convoy was blocked on his way to a meeting at the Force Headquarters, Abuja, diverted to Aso Rock Villa, and Magu was hauled before a Presidential Investigative Panel. There, his security details were stood down, and his official vehicles, withdrawn.
After the preliminaries at the Panel, headed by a retired President of the Court of Appeal, Hon. Justice Ayo Salami, Magu was, that same day, hauled into detention for 10 days. Within the 10 days, he was suspended from office, and another Acting Chairman, Muhammed Umar, appointed.
For months, the Panel sat. Witnesses upon witnesses were called. There was a lot of drama Allegations of prejudice were, atimes, made against the Panel by Magu’s defence team. They said the Salami-Panel had made its mind up to find Magu guilty, by all means. They said Magu was not being given the opportunity to defend himself. They said the Panel was inviting those Magu”s EFCC was either investigating or prosecuting. At a point, they alleged that the Chairman of the Panel had confided in them that he regretted taken up the job – an allegation Salami strogly denied.
Malami, Magu’s nemesis, after his earlier public pronouncement to appear before the Panel, if invited, reneged when the time came. Magu’s team cried foul.
The Panel stayed focused and on course. After sitting for months, as against the earlier expected 45 days, the Panel finally handed over its report. But that is all there has been to it since then, until this order day when AGF Malami, in explaining the delay in deciding Magu’s fate, said President Muhammadu Buhari was still studying the report.
Listening to Malami, one cheeky fellow asked: Who’s Magu again? While shock registered on the faces of some people, others shook their heads. It was difficult for me to decipher whether both different reactions were out of pity for Magu, or for a country that delays, almost, everything until it is forgotten, or makes no meaning again when it is remembered.
Otherwise, how can anybody ask; Who’s Magu again? Magu ke? – the same Magu who bestrode Nigeria like a colossus. He was the nightmare of everybody, almost. His name instilled fear, even amongst the innocent. He walked where Angels feared to walk. He seemed to have no friends, or so it was thought. Magu didn’t give a damn. He didn’t think he needed friends, anyway. His job was his life, his friend.
His many humiliations did not worry him. And, he broke quite a couple of records in that area. In the history of the EFFC, he was the only one who the Senate refused to confirm. Not once, but twice. And he was there for five years. He was the only one who a sister- Government Agency – the DSS, wrote a damning report against. That, effectively, stopped his confirmation by the Dr Bukola Saraki-led 8th Senate.
At the exit of the 8th Senate, everybody thought he would have an easy walk-through. But Mr President, surprisingly, wouldn’t send his name to the 9th Senate for confirmation. What nobody knew was that a worse fate awaited him. He chucked another minus up his sleeves.
His supervisory Minister, Malami, wrote a damning letter against him to the President, resulting in his present fate. Of all his predecessors, he is the only one, accosted along the road, arrested and hauled before an Investigative Panel; the only one suspended from office, and whose fate hangs in the balance, months after he was removed.
When his predecessors were removed, they knew from day one that they have been removed, even though their manner of removal was, also, untidy.
The removal, from office, of one of Magu’s predecessors, the lovely, hard-working, and unassuming Mrs Farida Waziri, was announced over the Radio and Television, even before she had an inkling of her sack. I remember.
Not quite 10 minutes after Waziri dropped me off at the hotel where I lodged, I heard the announcement of her removal as soon as I switched on the television.
For over an hour, I sat down, dumbfounded, just remembering how happy two of us were, chatting like teenagers, just some minutes ago. Life can be funny and brutish.
So, one just wonders.
Why does the Government, most times, not remove its high profile officials, decently? In Magu’s case, for example, nothing stopped an invitation to him, nicely, to appear before the Salami Panel. The public exhibition of his arrest was unnecessary, unless he had refused an earlier invitation.
When people say serves him right, that he was given a little of his own meficine to others, I counter them by taking refuge in the Holy Bible. Never repay evil with evil, the Holy Book admonishes us. Magu has his good sides. He was not the worst in that office.
Under the pioneer Chairman, Nuhu Ribadu, a serving Police Officer, at the time, of the rank of a DCP, I forget now, EFCC Operatives had the courage to, disrespectfully, wrestle the IGP then, Tafa Balogun, to the ground, in a bid to handcuff him and PUSH him into a vehicle. The man did not resist entering the vehicle, or anything of that nature, so, what was the public drama about? Not a few Police Officers were incensed by that treatment, and never quite forgave Ribadu.
Under Ribadu too, a member of the House of Representatives, Maurice Ibekwe, was left to die in detention. While in prison custody, under prosecution for alleged 419 by the EFCC, he took ill, very ill, with sores all over him. The EFCC opposed all applications for his bail, and rejected all entreaties from a number of people to allow him out for proper medical treatment.
When he died, the EFCC issued a lame apology. It is the enormous powers attached to that office that make occupants seem inhuman.
But back to Magu’s fate. I know Mr President is busy, but the Magu issue has taken quite sometime. The report should be dealt with, and the case rested.
Government has a way of delaying reports. I once sat, for about eight months, on a high profile Committee which looked into the grey areas of reports from a couple of Constitutional Conferences. A former Chief Justice of Nigeria, The Hon Justice Alfa Belgore was the Chairman. Senator Udo Udoma was his Deputy. Ambassador Babagana Kingibe, Professor Anya O.Anya, among others, were members, while the cerebral Ferdinand Agu, was the Secretary.
Patriotism drove us. We painstakingly, did a good job. But, till date, the report has not seen the light of the day. They are dumped somewhere, gathering dust Delay is dangerous, it is usually said. It gives room for wild speculations. And takes the wind off serious issues.
The prayer, here, is that Magu’s case will be different. His fate should not be left to hang in the balance for too long. No matter what it is, the release of the report will keep his mind at rest. Whatever, he will take it as a man. He is pretty sure the plum office is gone forever, unless there is a miracle. Though I hardly see that. Not after midway into the sitting of the Investigating Panel, Garba Shehu, Special Assistant to Mr President on Media and Publicity, gave us an inkling into what to expect. He warned us that the report would shock us.
Aged years, time is no longer on Magu’s side in his career as a Police Officer. He will retire at 60. The sooner he knows his fate the better for him and the Federal Government.
For Magu, he will have the rest of mind to prepare for his retirement. And for the FG, it would take care of some dangerous speculations. One of such speculations, for instance, says that Magu’s “ordeal” has everything to do with the politics of 2023. See?
That is why it is important to deal with it as soon as possible. I believe in this cliché: Justice delayed, is justice denied.