The attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been drawn to an article by veteran columnist Sonala Olumhense entitled, “As EFCC Confesses the Sad Truth,” which was syndicated in print and online media on Sunday, September 3, 2017. The piece dwelt extensively on two heads of strategic agencies in the Muhammadu Buhari administration - the chief of army staff, General Tukur Buratai, and the acting chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
The author, as usual, wrote with poetic candor but missed the point on the score of the chairman of the EFCC by imputing to him statements that he never made.
“The way we are going we have already failed… I am telling you we have almost failed. It is almost lost,” Olumhense quoted Magu as having said, when he met with journalists in Abuja on August 30.
But at no time did Magu make such a statement during the meeting with senior journalists.
Olumhense could be pardoned for the wrong attribution, as he probably relied on information by a section of the online media, but the truth is that Magu never made such comments. By the same token, it would be unfair for anyone to be calling for his head for comments that he never made.
It is unfathomable for the same man who announced the recovery of over N409bn and 137 convictions in eight months to claim that he had lost the fight against corruption.
To set the record straight, a full text of Magu’s presentation at the meeting is reproduced hereunder:
“It is my pleasure to welcome you all to this meeting which is part of my ongoing interface with critical stakeholders. Of course, there is no gainsaying the fact that the media remains the most important ally of the EFCC in the fight against corruption. We owe the media a debt of gratitude for whatever success we have recorded in the last two years. More importantly, we are convinced that the media remains strategic for future success of the EFCC and the fight against corruption in our country.
“This conviction inspired my decision to meet with you in this informal setting to interact and exchange ideas on the way forward in the fight against corruption in Nigeria. I have not called you here to lecture you on anti- corruption. I am here to listen to you, to know what we are getting right and areas where we need to improve. I will be taking notes.
“Ladies and gentlemen, it would be naïve for anyone to expect the fight against corruption to be smooth; you should expect resistance and opposition which are expressed in various guises. From what we read in the papers these days, it is either somebody is fighting Magu or Magu is fighting other people. I know that journalists want to sell their newspapers, but seriously speaking, instead of fighting ourselves, we should be united in fighting the common enemy, which is corruption.
“Personally, I am not after anybody and have no issues with anybody. Those who think they have issues with me will soon discover that I mean no harm. What drives me is the passion to do what is right by ensuring that we fight corruption to a standstill in this country. Gentlemen of the press, regardless of the challenges that we have faced and continue to face, I am happy to report that we are making progress. Many of you are aware of the achievements that we have recorded in the fight against corruption especially in the area of assets recovery.
“Two days ago, we got the court to forfeit to the Nigerian Government a sum of N7.6 billion which was hidden in a Nigerian bank by former petroleum resources minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Two weeks earlier, another court issued a temporary forfeiture order to seize properties worth Twenty One Million, Three Hundred and Ninety Two Thousand, Two Hundred and Twenty Four Thousand Dollars ($21,392,224) belonging to the same former minister. Those properties are awaiting final forfeiture.
“Over a month ago, the Commission recovered over N329 billion from a group of oil marketers for the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. These are major recoveries from a sector of the economy. But to give a holistic picture of the aggressive drive to recover stolen wealth, I have the pleasure to report that the Commission, between January and August 30, 2017, recorded the following monetary recoveries:
“Four Hundred and Nine Billion, Two Hundred and Seventy Million, Seven Hundred and Six Thousand, Six Hundred and Eighty Six Naira, Seventy Five Kobo (N409, 270, 706,686.75); Sixty Nine Million, Five Hundred and One Thousand, One Hundred and Fifty Six Dollars, Sixty Seven Cents ($69, 501,156.67); Two Hundred and Thirty One Thousand, One Hundred and Eighteen Pounds, Sixty Nine Shillings (Pounds 231,118.69; Six Hundred and Ten Thousand, Eight Hundred and Sixteen Thousand, Twenty Euros (Euro 610,816.20); Four Hundred and Forty Three Thousand, Four Hundred Dirham (Dirham 443,400.00 and (Seventy Thousand, Five Hundred Saudi Riyal (SR70, 500.00).
“In the area of prosecution of cases in court, we are also making progress despite the antics of some persons accused of grand corruption to delay trial. Between January and August this year, EFCC recorded 137 convictions. The potentials for improvement are good as more cases are brought to conclusion in the remaining four months of the year.
“Remarkable as this feat is, we are not resting on our oars. We believe here is still a lot to be done which is the reason why we are actively seeking the support of all stakeholders, including the media. Gentlemen of the press, we do not pretend to have a monopoly of knowledge on how to win the war against corruption. The anti-corruption campaign requires a concerted effort.
“I enjoin members of the public, including the media, to be part of this effort by reporting cases of corruption to the EFCC. Petitions and complaints can be forwarded to the Commission by email via: [email protected]
“Once again, I thank you for your commitment to the fight against corruption.”