Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) Chairman Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) on Wednesday urged President Muhammadu Buhari to re-nominate Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Noting that the President has the prerogative to pick who should lead the EFCC, Prof. Sagay said the President should give Magu another shot at the job because of his tremendous courage.
He said those aspiring to replace Magu should forget it “because it is not a turn by turn thing,” stating that the EFCC was like other parastatals before Magu came on board.
The PACAC chair made the position of the advisory committee known during an informal visit to the EFCC in Abuja
He said: “I am not going to tell you what advice we have given the government but let me say this, when something is good, when you see high quality, when you see merit, when you see dedication, when you see courage, when you see somebody that is indefatigable and who has identified with no corruption, I think it is stupid to say you are looking for something outside. Absolutely stupid because this is not a turn by turn thing, it is a thing of merit. You must deserve it and work for it and achieve it.
“In our view, the Acting Chairman deserves everything including his being given substantive appointment. Of course, one tree cannot make a forest so also a man and I know all of you have contributed immensely to the success of the EFCC but it takes a good man, a man of quality to bring out the best in any organization and that is what he represents.
“He is an uncompromising person as far as corruption is concerned. No one now will have the courage to say or try and offer him anything because they know the result will be a disaster. So, to answer your question, we are solidly behind Mr. Magu and EFCC. What we have told the president, we will not tell you.
On what the government is doing, he said: “You know it is presidential prerogative, so it is above our level but we are all hoping as all other Nigerians that the government will do the right thing and I believe our president has been known to do the right thing in circumstances like this, otherwise, the chairman will not be here with us today.”
Sagay berated the Eighth Senate for being “hostile to the fight against corruption.”
He expressed confidence that the Ninth Senate will confirm Magu if he is re-nominated.
He said: “As for the Eighth or Ninth Senate, I have expressed my views on it. We have a totally different Senate now. Some people have said a lot of the people who were there in the 8th Senate are in the current one. That may be true but leadership is the most important in this sort of situation. The leadership has changed completely.
“Now, we have people who want to work with the Executive, who want to equally fight with us for the eradication of corruption. So, we expect a lot of things to happen this time.
“I don’t think we are going to see the sort of shameful behaviour we experienced in the issue of nomination in the last Senate. It will never happen again because we now have people who support the fight against corruption.
“Those other people, especially the leadership of the last Senate, were hostile to the fight against corruption, very hostile and if anybody was brought forward who was going to be firm and committed as the chairman, of course, they will do everything to prevent such an appointment but the situation has changed. I am very optimistic that if his name is put forward this time, it will sail through.”
Commending EFCC’s outstanding performance under Magu, Sagay added: “We did not really come here for a formal occasion like this although we have no objection to it. It is a more of solidarity visit to express our support and admiration for the EFCC. It is a body that has surpassed every other organization in the past and present in the fight against corruption and they deserve continued support so that they will know that they are being appreciated.
“You cannot pick up the newspaper any day without seeing anything that the EFCC has achieved in terms of charges before court, in terms of forfeiture of assets and the latest of course is the former Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Mohammed Bello Adoke (SAN) has been arrested in Dubai.
“So, it is a continued thing and when Nigerians in some pretend and ask; what is the difference this government has brought into the fight against corruption, what has been achieved, it amazes me and for me, it is a sign of less faith being expressed by the elites who were the beneficiaries of corruption. They are undergoing the pains of having to earn their living rather simply collecting money and building edifices without any sign of employment of any sort.
“There has been a lot of change and the EFCC’s activities are repsonsible for most of these. The ICPC has done very well too but there is no question that the EFCC has been outstanding.
“Before his appointment by this government, the EFCC was like any other parastatal, ineffective and in fact in some cases compromised but now, we have a very firm and thoroughly determined EFCC.
“As they say, the fear of EFCC is the beginning of wisdom now and the looters now know that they cannot just loot and get away with it, they have to look over their shoulders because sooner or later, they will be arrested and made to face the law.
“So, we want to congratulate you and we are pleased that our sister country has seen the benefit of associating with you and getting some ideas, methods and techniques from you.
“Those methods and techniques, orientation which has brought bravery and achievements to this country and we know that your activities have extend beyond this country and so much has been recovered on various loots that were taken abroad. So, we are very glad to be here and we will come from time to time to share the pleasure of associating with a group of people who have done so much for this country.
On his part, Magu said the EFCC will kill corruption, it will not maim it .
He said: “As long as I am here, we will continue to do the right thing. We will kill corruption, this is the mandate President Buhari has given us, we were trained to kill corruption but not to maim corruption.
“We will however ensure that everything we do here will be within the Rule of Law. I appreciate PACA because your guidance has been very helpful. If anything wrong is done, PACA chairman or members will just call my attention to it
“what will I say, even a billion dollar cannot buy what you have said. I am encouraged by your kind words. There is no money that can force Prof. Sagay and his team to come and pass a commendation like this. I know them very well. We should be proud of this because the credit goes to everyone in EFCC.”