Nigerian Tribune - Some powerful interests ranging from past top military brass to political blocs may have indeed conspired to stall the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Sunday Tribune can reveal.
This is contrary to the widely held view that the negative security report from the Department of State Services (DSS), wherein Magu was adjudged to have failed integrity test, was the sole factor responsible for his rejection by the Senate.
It was gathered that Magu’s rejection by the Senate was not also only because of his insistence on pressing criminal charges against some of the senators.
Rather, Sunday Tribune authoritatively gathered that several factors combined to seal Magu’s fate at the screening, with the DSS report merely acting as a catalyst.
A source who was privy to the under-dealings and the horse-trading that played out in Magu’s case said but for the DSS report which provided the cross on which Magu was nailed, the senators would have had no choice but to confirm Magu as the EFCC boss.
The source said it would have been against the tide of public opinion not to confirm Magu who was already being seen as carrying on well with the fight against corruption.
“Yes, it is true that the EFCC under Magu has stepped on the toes of highly placed figures in the country, including the leadership of the Senate. The report of the DSS merely provided the lawmakers the opportunity to take their own pound of flesh on Magu,” the source said.
The cold war between the leadership of the DSS and Magu, it was gathered, also provided a platform for the “Magu must go” project.
Investigation revealed that beyond some of the reasons listed by the DSS is the insinuation that Magu has links with some entrenched powerful political interests eyeing the office of president.
Another source said the recent accusation of the Oba of Lagos, a retired police officer that the DSS boss had a hand in the conspiracy that sent him on forced retirement from the force should not be totally divorced from the Magu saga.
Magu was alleged to be very close to the Lagos monarch while still in service and is said to still oil the link.
Also linked to Magu’s travails is the public declaration not too long ago by a leader of the All Progressives Congress (APC) on his likely presidential ambition in 2019, if President Muhammadu Buhari decides not to take a second shot at the presidency.
Although the APC leader later issued a statement where he denied nursing any presidential ambition, the declaration was viewed by the members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet as a dangerous signal that should not be allowed to see the light of the day.
The thinking within the caucus, it was gathered, was the likely fear that Magu or some of his men could have been compromised by some members of the political class and could be used to haunt and destroy presidential aspirants or anyone seen as a threat to his ambition.
It was, therefore, necessary, according to the sources, to stop the confirmation of Magu at all costs in order to ensure a level-playing field for all aspirants, should Buhari back out in 2019.
Sunday Tribune also gathered DSS Director General, Lawal Daura, had kicked against the appointment of Magu as acting EFCC boss, but could not push his objection through because of the influence of a leader of the party, who was said to have wielded enormous influence in the current government at the very early stage of the Buhari administration.
The source also said the battle for supremacy between the DSS and EFCC was another reason.
He said the rivalry was brought to the fore during the midnight invasion of DSS’s operatives on the residence of serving Supreme Court Justices on alleged corruption.
The Commission, he said, wasted no time in publicly accusing the DSS of interference and acting outside its purview, a statement the source said did not go down well with DSS leadership.
The president was said to have been advised against forcefully pushing for his nominee because of the backlash the report could have on his personal image and that of his government.
The demand by the Senate for the obligatory security report for the screening of Magu, therefore, provided the secret service the impetus to nail Magu.
Apart from the DSS, other forces, Sunday Tribune was informed, like serving and former governors also mobilised their lawmakers at the Red Chamber to work against Magu’s confirmation.
Their grouse, it was said, was the probing of the Paris Club refund to states by the EFCC, which they said even went ahead to indict no fewer than 10 of them in public.
Some of the governors were said to have told the senators the implication of the EFCC probe for either the senators’ second term tickets or their ambition to become governors of their states in 2019.
Other sources also confided in Sunday Tribune that some retired military officers also mobilised the senators against Magu over what they called “the wide condemnation within the military class on the way and manner Magu handled the corruption case which involved some serving and retired Generals.”
According to one of the sources, “Did you see how both serving and retired generals were being paraded by a deputy commissioner of police publicly?
“It was a disrespect of the highest order. We are not in support of any act of corruption, but there are ways you go about your constitutional job without unnecessarily hurting nor embarrassing anybody.
“Did you see how both serving and retired generals were being paraded in hand-cuffs? That was why the military class lobbied the Senate. Yes, I said lobbied, because it is allowed in democracy to shoot down anything Magu and I thank God we succeeded,” said the source.