from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA, CAJ News) – THE head of Nigeria’s anti-corruption agency has distanced himself from media reports implicating him to the fraudulent multi-billion dollar arms deal.
The controversy around the probe took a new twist this week after local media hinted at the involvement of Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, who ironically has led President Muhammadu Buhari’s crusade against public officials that have looted the West African country’s coffers.
On Monday, it was reported in the media the State Security Service (SSS) had arrested a member of the Presidential Investigative Committee on Arms Procurement, Umar Muhammed, a retired Air Commodore, for alleged fraudulent deals involving top government officials.
Local media quoted a “reliable source,” alleging Muhammed was fronting for some high ranking officials within the EFCC and security agencies to carry out unwholesome activities.
Magu is the only non-military member of the 13-man Presidential Arms Procurement Investigative Panel set up by President Muhammadu Buhari in August last year under the supervision of the Office of the National Security Adviser (NSA).
Magu said the media reports stopped short of mentioning him as the official of the anti-graft agency whom Muhammed was allegedly fronting for.
Distancing himself from the allegations, Magu urged the Presidency to set up a “high-powered inquiry” to verify the claims of the reports “in view of the gravity of the issues.”
“The committee should also investigate those who had made it their sole business to impugn the integrity of others and cast doubt on the credibility of the anti-corruption war,” the EFCC Acting Chairman stated.
Wilson Uwujaren, EFCC spokesperson, alleged detractors of the EFCC and its leader were behind the media reports implicating Magu.
“The EFCC views with grave concern this spirited attempt to create doubts in the minds of less discerning Nigerians and member of the international community regarding the integrity of its acting Chairman,” Uwjaren said.
“To all intent and purposes, this devious report is another avenue of corruption fighting back as some people have been uncomfortable with the uncompromising stance of the Acting EFCC Chairman in the fight against corruption.”
Uwujaren added, “No matter the distraction and attempt by dark forces to derail its work through negative propaganda, the Commission will continue to discharge the mandate freely given to it by the Nigerian people to hold all public officers accountable.”
The allegations against Magu are the latest twist in the misappropriation of more than US$2 billion meant for the purchase of arms for the military involved in the fight against the Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed the lives of more than 20 000 civilians and displaced some 3 million Nigerians.
Former NSA, Sambo Dasuki, the chief suspect, is in custody while a number of officials from previous administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan are under probe for their alleged roles in the scandal that has made international headlines.
There have been reports the EFCC was considering arresting and probing Jonathan for his alleged complicity in the misappropriation of funds amid indications some of the funds were used to fund his and the People’s Democratic Party (PDP)’s failed bid to retain power during last year’s elections Buhari and his All Progressives Congress (APC) convincingly won.
Buhari, a military dictator in the 1980s, has made the fight against rampant corruption in Africa’s biggest economy his priority since assuming power.
– CAJ News