Following the recommendation of Justice Ayo Salami’s panel for the removal of Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting Chairman of the anti-graft agency (EFCC), feelers from Nigeria’s Presidency recently revealed that the search for a new Chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) may have started.
Justice Ayo Salami led Panel on sundry infractions against the suspended acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, however suggested that the agency should henceforth be headed by non-Police officers.
In his remarks, Salami said: “Your Excellency, permit me to say that four successive chairmen of the EFCC from inception have been drawn from the Police.
Therefore, in appointing a new chairman of EFCC, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies and qualified core staff of EFCC, as provided in the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment Act 2004).
The panel, while presenting its report, including four boxes of exhibits, to President Muhammadu Buhari at the Council Chamber of the State House, Abuja, in one of its recommendations, specifically stressed that in appointing a new chairman henceforth, consideration should be given to candidates from other law enforcement or security agencies, noting that the four chairmen of EFCC since inception were from the Police.
According to our source, “these recommendations were not part of the terms of reference of the panel”, adding that “the anti-graft agency cannot carry out its functions effectively without the backing of the Police”
EFCC is a law enforcement agency, therefore, for anyone to have recommended the headship to be a non-police officer is deeply troubling, “appointing any person outside of the Nigeria Police to head the Agency as chairman will likely weaken the strength of the anti-graft agency to fight corruption”, Southwest Youth Congress revealed.
According to the statement, “it is no surprise that the submission of the Hon. Justice Salami’s report on the investigation of the former Acting Chairman of the EFCC Ibrahim Magu to President Muhammad Buhari would draw flacks from many quarters due largely to the premeditated recommendations contained in the final report.
“Looking back to the appointment process and the shenanigans that granted the nomination of Ibrahim Magu to the headship of the anti-graft agency would leave no one in doubt that certain forces were at play and working surreptitiously to undermine the foremost anti-graft agency in the country.
“Ibrahim Magu is the reason the Commission has floundered rudderlessly for the past five years. Some have alleged that Magu does not have the requisite capability to steer that agency partly because he has never held a position or even head a unit in the Police Force talk more of a gigantic establishment that is saddled with the responsibility to tackle the high and mighty in the society.
“This is further strengthened when viewed side by side with the report that emanated from the Department of state security services (DSS) then which many believed touched on the competency of Ibrahim Magu.
“The DSS report was explicit enough to have stopped Magu’s emergence in the first place, describing his confirmation as a liability if the FGN goes ahead but the forces and cabal who were bent on weakening the anti-graft agency for personal gains went full throttle to work behind the scene in misguiding the President to keep Magu in office”.
“Now one of the recommendations by the Salami Panel is that non-Police personnel be appointed to head the EFCC henceforth and also to inject more core personnel to the EFCC.
Now one can conveniently pass the judgment that the way and manner the report comes across and presented makes it look as if some persons are in competition or at war with the Police”.
“The fact that Hon. Justice Salami specifically mentioned that since inception its only personnel of the Nigerian Police force has been appointed to the headship of the EFCC.
For me, this sounds more of bias than for his panel to do a thorough appraisal of the workings and gains to be made by the EFCC if rightly positioned and headed by a competent officer.
“The headship of the EFCC to be a non-police officer is to finally ground the EFCC a death kneel and this is counterproductive to the anti-corruption fight. The case for a police officer to continue to be there as the Head of the EFCC is sacrosanct.
Whatever the Hon. Justice Salami is doing is to play into the hands of the emerging cabal with a sinister agenda to render the EFCC comatose.
“The Police officers that trained the pioneer core staffs of the EFCC are still stagnated by way of promotion because promotion in the civil service is based on the availability of vacancies, it therefore makes no reasonable argument as stated by the Salami report. It is evident that the emerging cabal motive is to push the police elements out of the commission and this is a disaster waiting to happen to the EFCC.
“Another issue that has reared an ugly head in the commission is lack of motivation amongst staff. We can draw a nexus from the civil service where we know that before any promotion is effected there must be a vacancy to be filled, but in the EFCC core staffs are rapidly promoted to their next grade while the police officers are stunted in a position for years.
“This system is not encouraging because it kills enthusiasm for the job and it creates complex issues as one set of officers are seen to be more superior than others”.
The group went further to state that, “the agency’s core officers get trained by police officers in investigation activities.
There is no doubt that police lead in core investigation activities, no matter how one looks at it you can’t take away the powers of investigation from the police including forensic investigation. These are some of the shortcomings of Ibrahim Magu which he failed to correct been a police officer himself.
“It is also important to point out that at the moment, 970 policemen (114 drivers, 641 mobile policemen and 215 operations) are on secondment in the EFCC.
“The fact that EFCC attained its greatness due to the fact that seasoned and experienced Police Officers piloted its affairs” the group added.
Presidency source have confirmed that President Muhammadu Buhari is looking outside the police force in the search for the new EFCC boss, in conformity with the recommendation of the panel that probed sleaze allegations against Magu, it was also gathered that small search team would be constituted in the next few days to narrow down on the candidate capable of delivering the President’s dream of a corrupt-free anti-graft agency.
The source further confirmed that “the sleaze and abuse of office allegations against Magu were overwhelming,” and that he may be put on trial.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in response re-affirmed its commitment towards pursuing its mandate of educating, enlightening and sensitising the public against corruption and economic crimes.
While pledging that the fight against corruption is one that must be fought without fear or favour, Buhari thanked members of the panel for their dedication and commitment.
He added, “the sad reality confronting us as a people is that there is corruption almost everywhere; at many levels of government and nearly every stratum of our society, been mindful of the threat that corruption poses to us as a nation, this administration has specifically focused on the fight against corruption.
‘’As a government and in furtherance of our anti-corruption program, we have since inception engaged in many reforms in removing corruption, including but not limited to the enforcement of Treasury Single Account (TSA), strict implementation of the Bank Verification Number (BVN) Policy and signing unto the Open Government Partnership. A lot of efforts have gone into building and development of our anti-corruption institutions.
We have so far kept faith with our promise and shall remain committed until Nigeria triumphs over the evil of corruption, attains a prosperous economic status and surmounts her security challenges.
‘’However, the stark reality of widespread corruption becomes poignant when allegations of corruption touches on the leadership of an institution set up by law to coordinate and enforce all economic and financial crimes. It is an abomination that strikes at the root and undermines the government’s anti-corruption program.”
‘’We recognise that there are more grounds to cover in the war against corruption and we are prepared to go out to possess those lands by cutting off any stream that nourishes the seed of corruption and supports its growth.
Southwest Youth Congress in their plea and suggestion maintained that “The recommendations as pushed by this emerging cabal to the President are not foolproof after all. What we need for the EFCC is an outstanding police officer that knows his or her onion and would be desirous to leave a lasting legacy for future generations to imbibe his or her footprints.
“Therefore, it is our considered opinion that the President should tread a fine line to ensure the EFCC under his watch does not fall apart”, they added.