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Magu, EFCC, others and the verdict of history

By Abraham Ogbodo
21 October 2018   |   4:28 am
Maybe Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be reminded that the verdict of history is much more tenable.

[FILE PHOTO] Former Ekiti State Governor Ayo Fayose arrivING at the office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission

Maybe Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should be reminded that the verdict of history is much more tenable. Often than not, it is also given by those who didn’t witness the making of history. In addition, the verdict could be harsh because genuine history is justice, humanity and truth. It is constant and does not change with time or situations. When the history of the EFCC will be presented, I genuinely wish for Magu to be around to see his own scores.

At that point and with all the awesome powers of prosecution and persecution gone, Magu shall remain entirely at the mercy of history, which can neither be cajoled to be kind nor harsh. History judges rightly and places condemnation as well as commendation where they rightly belong. I am asking therefore that given the way Magu has operated the EFCC, would he fall on the side of kind or harsh judgment of history when tomorrow comes?

Power and authority offer opportunity to serve not to punish mankind. It is oppression and not service when the latter is the case. Even in a highly regimented governmental system, the responsibility for good judgment lies with the executor and not the originator. As humans, individuals at the down end of execution of orders that constitute terror are expected to be discerning and arguments of carrying out a lawful order by a constituted authority shall cease to exonerate or even mitigate at the point of judgment. This is the untainted natural jurisprudence applied at the post WW II Nuremberg trials of the Nazis, where no difference was established between Hitler and his hit men in the placing of culpability.

On Magu, I shall leave past matters and dwell on the matter of the moment, which is the continued detention in EFCC custody of former governor of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayo Fayose. The issues about Fayose are not new. The EFCC had been on them since 2015 and actually made it look as if it was all wrapped up and Fayose would on account of the weight of evidence of serial financial crimes against him walk straight from Government House Ado-Ekiti into Kirikiri maximum prison in Lagos. Fayose himself helped significantly when instead of staying back in the state capital or elsewhere and wait to be hunted, went to the EFFC office in Abuja to present himself for immediate prosecution in court on the day he was expected to hand over to his successor, Kayode Fayemi.

He has not been charged to court. Instead, he is being detained by the EFCC, which has reportedly obtained a court order to hold on to him for two weeks in the first instance. It means after almost four years and all the razzmatazz about the fate of Fayose outside power, the Commission still hasn’t enough evidence to nail the coffin on him and is asking for more time to fish around for more evidence.

The story the EFCC has pushed out is that Fayose is being detained for his refusal to cooperate. If this is true, I cannot understand the cooperation the EFCC is seeking here. The man has denied all allegations of financial crimes and asked to be taken to court, which is the right place for either party to prove its point beyond all reasonable doubt. Is that a difficult thing to do if really nothing more than bringing Fayose to justice is underlying this whole thing?

Let’s even resolve on the side of EFCC and agree it still needs time to tidy up its case against Fayose. This should not mean detention and the man could have been allowed on day one to go home pending when the commission would amass enough evidence to put him on trial. Does this mean if it takes the EFCC another four years to conclude the investigation, Fayose shall remain in detention? It is not sounding plausible and I suspect in the days ahead the EFCC may find some other story that sounds better. Something like Fayose will compromise investigation into the matter if he is set free. It could even be more bizarre like saying; Fayose is being held for his own safety because some people out there are threatening to kill him for abusing President Buhari.

That actually is the evolving narrative. Sympathizers are saying Fayose is serving punishment not for stealing but for relentlessly antagonising President Buhari while he was governor of Ekiti State. This narrative must not stand. If it does, it further diminishes the EFCC and reinforces the perception that since its creation in 2000, the Commission has been an essential weapon in the hands of the sitting presidents to hunt down political enemies. The only difference, perhaps, is that the perception under Buhari has strengthened into reality and the EFCC will not be helping itself if it continues in the way it is going with the Fayose case.

For me, criticizing a sitting president for poor performance should not constitute an offence. In fact, it is legitimate to even abuse him as it offers a valve to let out emotions to keep the polity within gauge. For instance, if not Buhari and the 36 governors, who else should Nigerians abuse for the near absence of public electricity, bad roads, poor healthcare, poor state of the educational system and insecurity in the country? Responsible governments only react to threats to orderliness and not abuses, which should be seen as channels of accessing public approval of the government of the day.

But in Nigeria where a democratically elected president and governors are like absolute monarchs, national steps are not choreographed to build strong institutions but to massage egos. The leader looks for loyalists and not competent hands to man institutions for nation building. In the end, persons and not a nation are built and we then turn around to ask the usual stupid question: why is Nigeria like this? Nigeria is like this and shall remain like this because its institutions serve governments and not the nation.

Today, the Defence Chiefs, Inspector General of Police and heads of the security agencies are like the personal staff of the sitting president. They are loyal men who a sitting president that does not want to stand up can deploy to advantage to sit perpetually on an unwilling nation. And with Buhari, there is an almighty formula called Fighting Corruption, which, when applied turns every action to an answer to Nigeria’s problem. Bad steps by the EFCC, the police and Department of State Security (DSS) to take out opposition and disable this democracy are said to be in the right direction once they are linked somehow with the Buhari’s almighty formula – Fighting Corruption.

And there are no qualms in doing this. The protagonists argue that it was the same under the PDP era during which official instruments of coercion were used to push down opposition and sustain the party in power. The tables turned since 2015 and it now seems the turn of the APC to pay the PDP in its currency. And so, more than anything else in the 2019 general elections, the PDP will be fighting to return as champion just as the APC in spite of current realities will do everything not to return to an underdog status.

In this quandary, the capacity to articulate higher ideals is lost. Great strength is in forgiveness not in vengeance and instead of moving up to the leadership ladder to set new standard; Buhari is lost in the search for a stronger currency with which to pay back the PDP. It would have been a lot better if he were alone in this Vanity Fair. He has taken along critical institutions of state and nothing outside the liquidation of the opposition and its own sustenance matters any more. This is where everybody should be worried because sheer viciousness and vendetta are turning to state policies in Nigeria.

Unfortunately, APC performers believe they are staging a good show. They have taken the audience for granted. But I can promise that Nigerians understand much more than the funny stunts that Buhari is pulling on the leadership stage. They know that the haul would have been net-breaking if Buhari truly cast the dragnet to catch all the corrupt fishes in the river. As I write, there is a court order on the EFCC to commence investigation of the APC national chairman, Mr. Adams Oshiomhole for corrupt practices while as governor of Edo State. Coming from a court of competent jurisdiction, this seems a low hanging fruit that the EFCC can pluck right away while it waits for the Fayose thing and other fruits in its basket to ripen.

But Magu and the Commission are pretending not to hear or see evil elsewhere except in the opposition camp. There is also a David Babachir Lawal, who was indicted by a panel of the National Assembly for using N250 million to cut grass in the desert. The man is walking free and even commenting on national issues because he has not decamped to the PDP. The point I am making is that the Nigerian dream shall continue to fail if politics loses every morality and becomes a game of kill or be killed.

What is called a life-time is imperceptible in the universal scheme or even in the life of a nation. Yet it is possible for a man and woman to live forever on earth if he or she makes the right choices. Neither the body nor the soul does this. It is the name that lives forever on earth. A well-nourished soul returns to the Creator, the body becomes part of earth and the name lives on either as a bad or a good name. Often, bad names are easily forgotten while good names regenerate and get renewed with the passage of time.

The charge to build a good name is not only for Magu and the EFCC to follow. It is for everybody that wishes to live forever on earth. Wealth, power and fame are ephemeral and perishable especially when they do not have the content of goodness. As we all know, tomorrow must come with its verdict on the actions and inactions of today. And it will be clear whose names from today’s maddening crowd will live forever on earth when tomorrow comes.

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