A senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mike Ozekhome has recalled that in 2017, he gave several warnings that Ibrahim Magu, then acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was looting the country’s treasury.
Magu was arrested and detained by security operatives in Abuja on Monday. He is being interrogated by a panel President Muhamadu Buhari set up to probe the activities of the anti-graft agency under his leadership.
TheCable reports that the panel began sitting three weeks ago before eventually inviting Magu to appear before it on Monday.
Magu’s travails followed a memo by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), in which the suspended anti-graft czar was accused of grave malfeasance.
He was alleged to have mishandled the recovered loot and was selling seized assets to associates.
In a statement on Tuesday, Ozekhome said he wrote Yemi Osinbajo, the then acting president, to complain about Magu whom he alleged was not being sincere with the handling of recovered loot.
“I challenged him and his impunity severally in courts across Nigeria. I won virtually all the cases. I called for a change of the way and manner the ‘anti- corruption war’ was being selectively and opaqualey fought,” he said.
“I wrote a public letter in 2017, to the then acting president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) at a time his boss, President Muhammadu Buhari, was sick on a London hospital bed. I complained bitterly, with facts, figures and data, that recovered looted funds and property, were being re-looted by the Magu-led team, who were supposed to keep the gate of our commonwealth.
“They looted our treasury in collaboration with their cronies, friends and acolytes. Magu was the new sheriff in town. I got no reply to my letter to Osinbajo. I wrote a reminder. No dice. I later challenged Magu publicly, face-to-face, on at least three occasions, one of which was at a ceremony at the federal high court in Abuja. Another was at a capacity-building workshop organised by the EFCC at its training academy in Karu, Abuja, which he graciously personally invited me to.
“He refused to change his ugly ways. It was clear to me and discerning Nigerians that power had gotten into his bald head. Power is an aphrodisiac, an intoxicating liquor. It bemuses. It gives delusional ‘Dutch courage.’ It forces reason to vacate its seat.”
The senior lawyer said for five years, Magu continued to work as acting chairman of the EFCC, as against the provisions of section 2(3) of the EFCC act, 2004 which provides that the senate must confirm him before he could continue in his office.
Ozekhome said Magu recruited expert “constitutional lawyers ” who argued that he could continue to stay in office.
He also accused Magu of subjecting those accused to media trial and humiliation.
He described Magu’s “arrest as a tragic reminder of the urgent need for temporary power wielders to act with moderation, modesty, circumspection and humility.”