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EFCC: Let’s try a foreign chairman


Ibrahim Magu

The arrest and detention of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the now sacked chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of massive corruption shows that nobody in Nigeria can do the EFCC job and end well. This is the obvious truth that the Federal Government must accept in order to make a change. If the change is not made, then, forget about fighting corruption, especially, if this monster is still thriving under the watchful eye of President Muhammadu Buhari, who, hitherto, was dreaded as anti-corruption personified.

The legendary Albert Einstein said madness consists in doing the same thing over and over again and expecting to get a different result. That is it – madness, that may be the problem with Nigeria. Since 2003 when the EFCC was established, the country has engaged four officers from the same police stalk as its chairman and the result is the same – allegations of massive corruption, re-looting of recovered funds and all manner of financial impropriety that made all the four end up with arrest and detention. The persons were Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri, Ibrahim Lamorde and Ibrahim Magu.

How on earth do you expect that another chairman from the same police will end up well? As a matter of fact, one can easily predict how the new chairman will end up in a couple of years from now.


Magu is the fourth chairman of the EFCC, and like his predecessors, who suffered the same fate and were thrown out in the most ignominious manner; it is not surprising that he is going through his own ordeal. That is expected and it makes no difference so long as all the so-called re-looted money would never be found again.

That, unfortunately, is the fate that will befall everyone who serves as EFCC chairman. There are no two ways about it. The reason is that Nigeria is tainted with corruption. You cannot fight corruption with corruption. The result will be chaotic as we have witnessed so far. As far as I am concerned, no corruption has been fought since 2003 the EFCC was established. Nigerians should compare and contrast the level of corruption in 2003 and what it is today and see whether or not we have made any progress or if corruption has worsened.

In 2003, for instance, individuals were arrested and charged for stealing money but today, the money is simply declared missing with nobody held to account. Today, corruption has assumed a larger than life stature. Impunity is the norm. We cannot be fighting corruption with corruption and expect to make progress.

My people say you don’t use the kernel to close a rat’s hole; the rat will eat the kernel. Similarly, you don’t keep tubers of yam and call on the goat to guard it; the goat will feed on the yams. And again, you don’t call on the wolf to decide how to protect the chickens; the wolf will use the opportunity to plan the easiest way to catch the chickens.


In suggesting that we try a foreign chairman to head the EFCC, I have considered the different sectors of Nigeria’s body polity and found none worthy to do the job.

Beginning with the police, we have tried policemen four times and none worked. The police, we should know, were trained to keep law and order. They are not trained to dabble into corruption-fighting because by the nature of their job, they are exposed to corrupt tendencies on a daily basis. The police should only be involved when called upon to arrest an accused or suspect but not to be the helmsman.

I looked at the judiciary to know if judicial officers could do this job but the story is the same as the police. The Nigerian judiciary is being accused of corruption thereby making Nigerians lose faith in the system. The judiciary could have served as a better option to the police but there are many stained fingers making it difficult to trust it.

Furthermore, I looked at the civil service to see if there is anyone who could be used to redeem the EFCC but found none. Reason: the civil service is the bedrock of corruption in Nigeria. As a matter of fact, if the civil service could be rid of corruption, there will be no need for the EFCC. The civil servants have perfected how to fleece the system under whatever administration. And the thing is that they are there come rain come shine. They don’t move.


I also considered the possibility of using the armed forces but it is the same story. Whether it is the military, navy or air force personnel, they are not better in any way to fight corruption. The on-going Boko Haram war has exposed the armed forces corrupt tendencies as some top officers are being accused of stealing funds. The other day, Senate President Ahmed Lawan said the Boko Haram war has been turned into an industry for making money. Where do we go from here, do we hire Customs personnel, God forbid.

Based on the foregoing, I came to the conclusion that the only way Nigeria could fight this war on corruption and make something out of it is to engage a foreign anti-corruption czar. There is nothing wrong or strange with having a foreign EFCC chairman. After all, our national football coach is a foreigner, Gernot Rohr. Some key posts in Nigeria’s oil sector are headed by foreigners. The major infrastructural contracts involving roads and bridges are handled by foreigners. It is time to engage a foreigner as chairman of the EFCC to lead the battle against corruption.

In selecting the foreign chairman, it is not anybody from any country that would make it. Since the job is anti-corruption, the chairman should be selected from countries that are clean on the corruption index. In this regard, the following top five countries should be considered as the pool.

Using the 2020 Transparency International (TI) corruption index, the following are the countries to engage an EFCC chairman from – New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, Switzerland and Finland.

If President Buhari is truly committed to fighting corruption and not paying lip service to the malaise, the die is cast. The time to make a change is now. I strongly believe that any person hired from any of these virtual corruption-free countries will make a difference. That is the only way out Mr. President.


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