*Says Senate beefing over his confirmation for “obvious reasons”
* ‘Corrupt people fighting back, basically. They are chasing me everywhere.”
*Says course in anti-corruption at varsity will wipe out corruption faster
“I have very young officers who go to court and face a lot of SANs. There’s a case during which we had about 31 SANs against one small boy lawyer who is just ten years into the profession. Why should somebody carry so many SANs to court, and use all type of language to intimidate the judges?”
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mallam Ibrahim Magu, has finally doused the fears that non-confirmation by Senate may have dampened the dexterity with which he fights corruption in the country by his word that he suffers no mental pressure by the Senate’s action.
Magu, speaking in an interview published in Daily Trust on Saturday, said his job was a thankless one and so that once he was given the assignment to carried out he just moved on without expecting anybody to appreciate him.
He was specific that the non-confirmation of his appointment as substantial chairman of the anti-corruption agency had not affected him in any way and that he therefore lost no sleep over the matter.
“Mine is a thankless job. The moment you are given an assignment, you concentrate, you go all the way without expecting anybody to appreciate what you are doing. But as long as you are convinced that what you are doing is right, you move forward. It hasn’t affected me. There is no mental pressure. People think I’m always under pressure, but I sleep very well.”
Asked if there were things he could have done as confirmed chairman of EFCC that he could not do as an acting head, Mallam Ibrahim Magu said there was none as he added that, “I have executive powers.”
The EFCC boss refused to be dragged into another phase of executive/legislature controversy when he turned the question requesting him to comment on why he thought the Senate was adamantly against his confirmation.
He simply threw back the question tasking the interviewer to go and find out by himself but quickly added that reasons he was not confirmed by Senate were obvious.
“It is your duty to find that out, not for me (to) tell you. I think you should know better, but the reasons are very obvious.”
He however ventilated his wishes for every Nigerian person to buy into the anti-corruption regardless of their status as, according to the anti-graft czar, nobody has monopoly of knowledge in the fight against corruption.
“What I want is for everybody to join the fight against corruption, whether in law enforcement or not, because we need everybody on ground. Nobody has the monopoly of knowledge in fighting corruption, I emphasize that.
“I visited the Nigeria Universities Commission, and appealed to the management, that we want to bring all the vice chancellors in one room and talk to them, and bring them on board, because there is a lot of corruption right in the university system.
“We will also appeal to them to create a course unit to emphasize anti-corruption, whether you are in sciences or the arts, so that every youngster will grow with that in mind. It would help in wiping out corruption in its own way.”
Explaining further about fighting corruption through course in university, Magu said it would be a preventive measure and a strategy in the fight against corruption.
Asked to comment on what could be done to quicken the process of prosecution of corruption cases with serious punishment for offenders, the EFCC boss said, “Mine stops at investigating and taking the matter to court, and providing the essential evidence and witnesses. I have very young officers who go to court and face a lot of SANs. There’s a case during which we had about 31 SANs against one small boy lawyer who is just ten years into the profession. Why should somebody carry so many SANs to court, and use all type of language to intimidate the judges?
He however gave “Corruption fighting back” was the biggest stumbling block in the way of achieve speedy successes in fighting against corruption in Nigeria currently.
“Corrupt people fighting back, basically. They are chasing me everywhere.”
Magu said that it was very important that the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (NFIU) remained domiciled in the EFCC, “Because EFCC is one of the most credible law enforcement agencies around. If you look at the recommendation of the Financial Action Task Force, it says the most effective financial intelligence units in the world are domiciled in law enforcement.
Why EFCC is caution over whistleblowing
Magu said: “We are working with it, but the experience is not very good. In most cases, the information comes, you go there and you don’t see anything, and it becomes a source of embarrassment. So, we are very cautious before we implement the follow-up.
On challenges of getting back looted funds from foreign countries?
“There are some improvements compared to what we had before, there is a very good arrangement going on between us and Dubai, USA, etc. I must tell you that these people are very reluctant to return our money. We are really trying to make sure they return the money. Sometimes they don’t even want to state how much was actually involved.
Training cadets at Nigerian Defence Academy
Magu gave reasons: “Our own academy does not have sufficient space to train the number of people we really want, and I discovered that the old site of the NDA had some usable space, and that’s why I approached the authorities to use it. But we have applied for a place for the EFCC academy in Kaduna to develop.
“There is no military angle to the training. We just want to bring in some discipline, because the challenges they will face are much more than what I’m facing now. If there is no discipline, things will not work well.
No closing time
Magu revealed that he was quite hands-on and that he had no closing time as he coordinates all his zonal offices first thing before leaving home in the morning.
“Like this morning, I went to the police cantonment and played squash. Then before I go out of the house in the morning, I make a lot of calls, I speak to my boys who are working in the zonal offices. I’m quite hands-on. Then there’s no closing time, really. Sometimes you have to just leave the office because you need some rest.”