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Prominent international groups involved in anti-corruption efforts globally have written to Muhammadu Buhari on what they consider the unfortunate treatment of Ibrahim Magu.

PREMIUM TIMES reported the arrest of Mr Magu, acting chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, EFCC, on Monday.

He has been detained since then as he continues to appear before a panel probing allegations of corruption and insubordination against him. The allegations were made by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami.

Mr Magu was also formally suspended from office on Friday, according to a statement by Mr Malami’s office.

Mr Magu and Mr Malami have had repeated disagreements on the anti-corruption war and many Nigerians including a member of a presidential adviser on anti-corruption, Femi Odekunle, believe Mr Magu’s ordeal is part of a power play with Mr Malami.

Mr Magu has denied wrongdoing, while the presidency has said Mr Magu’s investigation was a sign there was no sacred cow in Mr Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.

In their joint letter, dated July 9, the anti-corruption groups said: “What is going on in Nigeria is of concern to the international community. Mr Magu has proved himself to be up to the task.”

The letter was signed by Lucas Manes of Re:Common, Nicholas Hildyard of Corner House, Simon Taylor of Globalwitness – all European organisations – and Olanrewaju Suraju of the HEDA in Nigeria.

“His determination to fight corruption is evident by the recovery of stolen funds and properties plus his own high moral ground earned at the cost of diligence and hardwork never before seen. His political removal questions the will of Nigeria to deal with a major cause of the country’s underdevelopment which is corruption,” the groups said in the letter.

The four groups have been at the vanguard of monitoring and exposing the corruption involved in the infamous OPL 245 Malabu scandal for which oil majors Shell and Eni and their officials are being prosecuted in Nigeria and Italy.

The groups on Sunday released a statement about the content of their letter to the Nigerian president.

Read the statement below.

The unceremonious exit of former Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) Acting Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu may erode the recent gains in the fight against corruption, global groups working against sleaze have said.

World acclaimed anti-corruption groups, Re:Common, Globalwitness and The Corner House based in Europe said Nigeria has regained unprecedented gains under Magu‘s leadership of EFCC and that his removal under the current circumstances may roll back the momentous gains already recorded under his tenure.

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Re:Common top official Mr Lucas Manes, Corner House Nicholas Hildyard and Simon Taylor of Globalwitness in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari last week expressed deep concern over the travails of Magu saying that the former EFCC boss may be a pawn in the desperate attempts by corrupt officials to kill the EFCC or turn the agency into a willing tool of corrupt politicians.

The letter was signed by Manes, Hildyard, Taylor and their Nigerian counterpart, Human and Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre) Chairman, Mr Olanrewaju Suraju.

“What is going on in Nigeria is of concern to the international community. Mr Magu has proved himself to be up to the task. His determination to fight corruption is evident by the recovery of stolen funds and properties plus his own high moral ground earned at the cost of diligence and hardwork never before seen. His political removal questions the will of Nigeria to deal with a major cause of the country’s underdevelopment which is corruption” the groups said in a letter delivered to the Nigerian President.

Some of the groups’ most significant contributions to Nigeria’s anti-graft effort is the historic exposure of Nigeria’s top oil companies linked to large scale corruption and their on-going trial in Italy and other European courts.

The coalition said “We are therefore greatly alarmed – as are others in the international anti-corruption movement – by reports that Mr Magu has been detained and/or suspended following allegations against him that were reportedly made by Attorney General Malami directly to you.”

They said the international community is not opposed to Mr Magu being investigated since all allegations of corruption must be thoroughly probed but rather that due process and the proper disciplinary procedures have not been followed.

“The procedures are clearly being hijacked by detractors of Magu in the political space and this is eroding the potential credibility of the outcome of the panel constituted to probe these allegations. The hounding of Magu through seemingly politically connected sponsored media harassment only makes matters worse”, the groups stated in the letter.

The groups have been investigating corruption by Nigerian politicians and officials and the complicity of European and US banks, companies and others in facilitating such corruption.

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The coalition’s particular focus on corrupt acquisition by Shell and Eni of the OPL245 oil field, had exposed alleged corruption by two former Attorney Generals of Nigeria together with former oil ministers. Though, the companies and individuals that are being prosecuted have all denied wrongdoing but the matter has proved that oil giants operating in Nigeria regarded as sacred cows can be made to face the weight of law abroad.

The current prosecution in Italy had resulted directly from a complaint made by the organisations to the Milan Prosecutor, which in turn led to the seizure and subsequent return of OPL 245 funds frozen in the London courts. Magu gave full support while Buhari insisted that the evidence should be followed wherever it leads.

These and other actions have significantly improved Nigeria’s standing internationally. As a recent by the prestigious University of Edinburgh-led Global Integrity Anti-Corruption Evidence programme records: “Nigeria’s anti-corruption law enforcement efforts are gradually growing more effective as practitioners adapt and innovate in response to many persistent challenges.”

The report goes on to praise Magus’s EFCC as “a robust and effective organisation” but warns that it has “tough choices to make about its future direction, especially how it . . . resists political influence”. To curtail such interference, the report concludes, will require leadership to “institute and enforce a zero-tolerance policy toward executive branch interference with . . . anti-corruption agencies”.

The unique of the group on OPL245 and also investigating Diezani Alison-Madueke, Kola Aluko, P&ID and others, has involved close engagement with the EFCC.

The coalition said “We have been hugely impressed by the dedication of its investigators and by the disciplined leadership shown by Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu. The agency is completely different from the sclerotic, timid, politically captured bureaucracy that it was In the previous period. The credit for this is due in large part to you for appointing Magu and sticking with him despite efforts to unseat him.”

It noted that the respect that Nigeria has gained is exemplified by the recognition accorded to Magu, not least by the US Federal Bureau of Investigation, which recently honoured him with an of Excellence.

“Indeed, in meetings we have had with this, and other agencies, conversations have often referred to the impressive current leadership of the EFCC” it said.

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The global group observed that the attorney-general has apparently sought to bypass the usual administrative procedures of issuing a query to an accused officer under his ministry in favour of a political approach.

It said the procedure risks severely denting Nigeria’s reputation abroad and urging the president to enforce a “zero tolerance to political interference” as recommended by the Edinburgh research group.

“We note that many of the allegations reportedly made by the Attorney General have already been investigated by same Attorney General under your instruction in 2017 and that Magu was exonerated in respect of the corruption allegations: only those related to insubordination were freshly levelled. We are concerned that accusations of “insubordination” risk crossing the line that ensures the independence of prosecutors from political interference” adding that despite bearing false witness being illegal, no-one has been investigated or charged in relation to bringing the false allegations against Magu in 2017.

It said this regrettably sends the wrong message to the international community.

“We realize that you have been placed in an invidious position by the Attorney General. However, we very much hope that you will find a way forward that protects the huge strides made by the EFCC under Magu’s acting chairmanship. We very much doubt if the Italian case would have reached the stage that it has without his committed and diligent response to Mutual Legal Assistance requests. At this critical stage in the trial, his replacement for political reasons would be wholly regrettable and would only give succour to those being prosecuted,” the groups said.
Best Regards,

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Abass Sulaiman Adegoke, well known as Adegoke is a student of Federal Polytechnic Ede studying Civil Engineering, He is a media enthusiast, loves traveling, and has a special interest in personal development.

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Nigeria Records 443 New COVID-19 Cases, Total Now 45,687

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The Centre for Disease Control (NCDC) has confirmed 443 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, as confirmed cases are now 45,687.

The agency made this known via its verified Twitter handle on Friday.

“On the 7th of August 2020, 443 new confirmed cases and 6 deaths were recorded in Nigeria.

“Till date, 45687 cases have been confirmed, 32637 cases have been discharged and 936 deaths have been recorded in 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory.

“The 443 new cases are reported from 19 states- Plateau (103), Lagos (70), FCT (60), Ondo (35), Edo (27), Rivers (27), Kaduna (20), Osun (19), Borno (18), Oyo (18), Kwara (11), Adamawa (9), Nasarawa (7), Gombe (6), Bayelsa (4), Imo (4), Bauchi (2), Ogun (2) and Kano (1),” the NCDC said.

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See the breakdown of cases by state below;

Confirmed Cases by State

States Affected No. of Cases (Lab Confirmed) No. of Cases (on admission) No. Discharged No. of Deaths
Lagos 15,697 2,386 13,119 192
FCT 4,301 3,019 1,237 45
Oyo 2,843 1,410 1,402 31
Edo 2,367 186 2,085 96
Rivers 1,938 276 1,609 53
Kano 1,609 252 1,303 54
Delta 1,557 110 1,404 43
Kaduna 1,550 186 1,352 12
Ogun 1,430 187 1,219 24
Plateau 1,397 748 629 20
Ondo 1,278 597 654 27
Enugu 880 377 485 18
Ebonyi 838 19 793 26
Kwara 826 462 343 21
Katsina 746 265 457 24
Borno 652 48 569 35
Gombe 626 73 530 23
Abia 625 103 517 5
Osun 605 263 329 13
Bauchi 576 36 526 14
Imo 476 318 148 10
Nasarawa 367 136 223 8
Benue 356 285 64 7
Bayelsa 346 22 303 21
Jigawa 322 3 308 11
Akwa Ibom 234 55 171 8
Niger 226 49 165 12
Adamawa 185 87 86 12
Ekiti 159 81 76 2
Sokoto 154 138 16
Anambra 142 41 83 18
Kebbi 90 82 8
Zamfara 77 1 71 5
Taraba 72 13 55 4
Cross River 68 18 42 8
Yobe 67 2 57 8
Kogi 5 3 2

READ ALSO  Nigeria Records 239 New COVID-19 Cases, Total Rises To 4,151
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BREAKING: Edo Assembly: Bola Tinubu attacks Obaseki, makes fresh claims against Governor

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The National Leader of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Bola Tinubu, has reacted to recent events at the Edo State of Assembly, describing Governor Godwin Obaseki’s actions as “the gravest possible assault on constitutional democracy and the rule of law and escalation of violence and tension in the state he purports to govern.”

Tinubu said this in a statement he personally signed and made available to DAILY POST on Friday.

The former Lagos State Governor berated Obaseki, accusing him of making a mockery of ’s constitution by blocking the timely inauguration of two-thirds of the elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly, and now resorting to the strong-arm tactics of dictators.

According to Tinubu, Obaseki had sponsors hoodlums to deface, indeed destroy, parts of the House of Assembly Building in Benin while feigning the building is undergoing renovation.

“Then, he imports sand and gravels to prevent access to the assembly complex,” Tinubu said.

He noted that by this singular act, Obaseki spent state “funds to thwart the very apparatus of the state government he was sworn to uphold.”

Tinubu said that the Governor squandered “public money to defeat the very will of the public. This is tragic beyond words.”

The statement added, “As a pretext for his refusal to allow the Edo House of Assembly to function, Governor Obaseki’s actions are perverse. This is a cowardly act and a move to thwart representative democracy in Edo.

“No renovation has been planned for the state house building. No appropriation was made in the state’s budget. The only reason any renovation could be deemed necessary is the destruction wrought by his own goons.

“Governor Obaseki’s governance of Edo State recalls the worst excesses of our military past and represents a direct threat to the democratic order. By his refusal to permit duly elected members of the Edo State House of Assembly to perform their constitutional duties, Governor Obaseki betrayed contempt for the people of his state and, unfortunately, his ignorance of Nigeria’s constitutional order. As a Governor he ought to know better than to obstruct the functioning of his own legislature, but perhaps he is in need of a quick lesson.

“The legislative function is, perhaps, the most foundational obligation of any government. In the UK, the Parliament was famously said to be “that supreme and absolute power, which gives life and motion to the English government”. In most democratic systems, the legislature is the arm of government containing within itself the people’s representatives in government.

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“As such, the legislative arm is critical. It is an important symbol of democratic governance. The voice, will and desires of the people are reposed in their elected representatives sent to the legislature to express and distil their amorphous will into the laws and codes by which the society has agreed to live.

“In the context of a constitutional democracy such as ours, the legislature’s authority stems, in effect, from the recognition that it is the authentic mouthpiece of the people, entrusted with the responsibility of representing their collective will and the power to interpret and mould it into the laws of the land. It is, in short, not to be toyed with as a plaything of an errant and ill-disciplined governor. Undermine the legislature and you imperil democracy and allow governance to descend into anarchy.

“Indeed, it is no coincidence that of the three arms of government, the powers of the legislature are enumerated first, in our Constitution. The legislature is the authority imbued with the power to make laws for the peace, order and good governance of the federation and states. Indeed, the Constitution makes clear that a Governor’s role primarily extends to the maintenance and implementation of the laws set down for him by his state’s legislature.

“In placing himself above the legislature, deciding who gets in and who is shut out, Governor Obaseki not only places himself above the nation’s constitutional order, he places himself above the people of Edo State whose representatives he so brazenly tramples upon. One can only wonder, given the desperation with which he has acted and his belligerent refusal to honour the free choice of the people of his own state, what mortal offence the majority members he has shut out have committed to warrant such treatment.

“Although Governor Obaseki’s conduct in the past year is undoubtedly impeachable, these legislators have made no threat to impeach the Governor. Their only desire is to peacefully perform the duties asked of them by the constituents who elected them. What, then, is their offence?

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“By all appearances, the Governor is punishing these legislators for their loyalty to a party that is no longer his own. If every governor behaves as he, obstructing the performance of any legislator who does not pledge to him their undying fealty, the entire edifice of democratic governance in Nigeria would grind to a complete halt.

“In his campaign for re-election, Governor Obaseki promises to represent and defend the interests of all the people of his state. Yet, so blinded is he by his personal ambition, he sees no irony in the fact that his actions have denied two-thirds of the people of his state their right to representation in the state’s only legislative chamber.

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“Governor Obaseki must think the people of his state to be as foolhardy and ignorant as he, for even as he courts their votes, he continues to make a mockery of the institution of democracy in his own House of Assembly. If Governor Obaseki believes the people are not aware of this inherent irony, he will undoubtedly learn the cost of this grave miscalculation in the fullness of time.

“The rule of law and preservation of democracy is too important to sacrifice at the altar of any one man’s ambition. Governor Obaseki’s woeful leadership of Edo State will hopefully be brought to an end soon by the very people whose rights he has so carelessly trampled upon. One can only hope that the damage he is doing to the most important of the state’s democratic institutions can just as easily be repaired.”

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