The battle over the appointment of a substantive Chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is not yet over between contending forces in government and the National Assembly.
A plot to suspend the anti-graft agency’s acting chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, was being perfected by those opposed to his retention.
But pro-Magu supporters in government are of the opinion that he remains the best for the job.
They said since there are cases in court over whether or not it was necessary for the Senate to confirm Magu, the matters should be allowed to run their full course to the Supreme Court level.
The National Assembly had rejected the nomination of Magu and made his removal as one of its demands for a quicker resolution of the crisis between the two arms of government.
But the Presidency has remained adamant on the choice of Magu for the job in view of his “unique forensics investigations in the last three years”.
According to investigation, some anti-Magu forces met in the past one week on how to resolve the feud between the Executive and the National Assembly, especially on Magu.
The said forces were said to be “looking for an outright solution to Magu imbroglio”.
Most of the bigwigs were also said to be nursing fears that with or without Buhari’s second term in office, Magu can move against them after leaving government.
It was learnt that Magu will be suspended under the guise of any of these cooked up allegations:
- Owning phantom houses at home and abroad;
- Opening of an account with suspicious lodgments;
- Working in cahoots with an Arab as a business partner;
- Unyielding position on the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit( NFIU);
- Alleged irreconcilable figures on the amount recovered from looters between the Ministry of Finance and the EFCC;
- Alleged insubordination; and
- The likelihood of the EFCC operational activities jeopardising the re-election of President Muhammadu Buhari.
A top source, who spoke in confidence, said: “Since the Vice President, Yemi Osinbajo, declared that the Presidency was insisting on the choice of Magu, those opposed to the acting chairman of EFCC have also returned to the drawing board.
“Working hand-in-hand with some members of the National Assembly, they have disagreed with the VP.
“The latest plot is to hide under any of the phantom allegations above to suspend him from office whenever the President is out of the country or Abuja.
“Once the suspension is announced, it will be difficult for the President to reverse. The alternative will be a fresh crisis in the presidency over Magu.
“Apart from using the Presidency-National Assembly feud as an excuse, some of these anti-Magu forces also believe that with the tough stance of Magu in office, it could affect the chances of Buhari’s second term bid.
“They also claimed that with Magu out of the way, the relationship between the Executive and the National Assembly can be smoother. Those in the Senate have specifically asked the presidency to prevail on Magu to stop the ongoing investigation of some senators.”
Those who favour Magu, including the vice president, a few Northern Emirs and limited members of the kitchen cabinet of the President have insisted that those against the acting EFCC chairman were out to derail the anti-corruption agenda of the Buhari administration.
A source in the Presidency said: “Magu is a financial crime-buster with exceptional courage. The VP is saying he is the most fitted because the quality of investigations under Magu by the EFCC.as forensic fidelity. Even all the suspects so far interrogated know.
“It is like getting to the middle of a river and contemplating a return. The anti- graft war by the EFCC has earned Mr. President international rating and to do otherwise is to make nonsense of what has been achieved.
“Those who do not want Magu have other agenda than backing the anti-corruption campaign of the President.
“There is no question of insubordination against the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation as being claimed. AGF Abubakar Malami and Magu recently travelled to Dubai together on assignment
“And why will anybody be so desperate to plot to open an account and lodge cash there in the name of Magu? This shows the extent of desperation by those opposed to him.”
On the crisis between the Presidency and the National Assembly, the source added: “Without Magu’s nomination, the stress will still be there. Their demands are many and we are trying to reach some understanding.”
Magu has clarified that he did not acquire houses anywhere.
He was quoted to have told those who are backing him that “I have no houses abroad, I don’t own any business let alone having a foreign partner whether an Arab or Lebanese.”
Magu also said he had no direct contact with recovered funds since they go into some dedicated accounts.