Ibrahim Magu’s rejection as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been revealed not to be based on the report indicting him by the Department Of State Services alone.
According to The Nation, seven governors and some high-profile Nigerians plotted the removal of Magu due to what was described as a very strong stance against corruption. Hmm, na wa oh.
According to a source, Magu got the ire of the governors over the ongoing probe of the alleged diversion of N19 billion from the London-Paris Club loan refund.
Also 10 senators reportedly plotted against Magu due to his refusal to make a commitment that he will “find solutions” to their trials.
A source said a former governor from the Northeast led the 10 senators to the acting EFCC chairman asking him to terminate their trial but he insisted that the law must be allowed to take its course.
It was learnt that the N19billion was deducted from the N388.304billion, which was part of the N522.74 billion released to 35 states as refund of over-deductions on the London-Paris Club loans.
President Muhammadu Buhari approved the release of the first tranche to states as refund pending a reconciliation of records after protests by states against over deductions for external debt service between 1995 and 2002,
Each state was entitled to a cap of N14.5 billion but the intercepted as it was reported that N19billion was diverted to Nigeria Governors Forum (NGF) accounts and some private accounts.
A source said: “All attempts to prevail on Magu to halt the investigation failed and the governors have no choice than to engage in lobbying to truncate the confirmation.
“Although a governor from the Northeast did his best to persuade his colleagues to spare Magu, some of the governors vowed not to take the risk.
“At a point, the governors sent emissaries to the Acting EFCC chairman, including some government officials, but he did not shift ground.
“The position of the governors was that the Presidency was in the picture of the deductions from the loan refunds but the EFCC’s probe was seen as an embarrassment to them.
“Before Magu goes after them, they decided to cut him to size. These governors found willing partners in some National Assembly leaders who were implicated in the loan refund.”
One of the emissaries sent by the governors to Magu was quoted as saying: “This chap almost secured confirmation but he bungled it by probing the loan refund.
“Each time a commitment was secured from him, the more he has been intensifying investigation of the N19billion. We told him it was a sensitive case.”
“A businessman reportedly interceded for Magu, urging the Senate leadership to confirm him. But the businessman later discovered that EFCC was investigating him in connection with the loan refund,”
“So, the governors refused to spare any efforts to lobby their senators to reject Magu. And don’t forget that most of these governors are godfathers of many senators. Again, 2019 is around the corner, no senator wants to take a bet on Magu and lose the opportunity of returning to the Red Chamber in the next general election,”
Anther source noted that the invitation of Toyin Saraki, the wife of the Senate president spelt disaster for Magu.
A highly-placed source said: “The Senate has had its grudges against Magu since the invitation of the wife of the President of the Senate for interrogation. The senators saw it as a desecration of the chamber.
“Despite the fact that the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, has purportedly forgiven Saraki, the questioning of his wife has been a lingering memory. There are always fears that Magu could be more drastic in his action if confirmed.
”And the fears came to fore during the lobbying for confirmation when the Acting EFCC chairman refused to yield ground. Magu and a few others met with some of the Senators, led by a former governor from the Northeast, who demanded to know what EFCC will do on their cases.”
“The PDP senators did not mince words that the Acting EFCC chairman will not be confirmed because of alleged tilting of investigation towards opposition leaders. The ongoing subtle probe of the Senate Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio and his wife by the EFCC was considered as an affront after Magu had lobbied the PDP Caucus.
“Although two of the PDP senators met with Magu on Tuesday to assure him of likely clearance but the game plan changed overnight when the caucus took a position against Magu.”
Another high source noted that some bank chiefs were against the acting EFCC chairmen.
“The Acting EFCC chairman stepped on toes of these high-profile suspects, who in cahoots with their associates and sympathisers, lobbied senators to halt what one of them described as ‘Magu’s hurricane’. These suspects have the wherewithal to fight Magu to a standstill.
“The problem with Magu is that he has no godfather to fight his cause. And Senate politics is about influence wielding, building contacts and high-wire relationship.
A government souce also said: “Magu has limited contacts in government. His sympathisers are President Buhari, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the President’s wife, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, the National Security Adviser (NSA), Gen. Babagana Monguno and the Chairman of PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay, among others.
“Unfortunately, the NSA who recommended him for the job is facing challenges with some members of the kitchen cabinet who see Magu as doing the bidding of his benefactor.
“I think the service (DSS) was uncomfortable with lack of inter-agency cooperation between it and the EFCC.
“There was a time the DSS advised Magu to stay action on an operation in the Southsouth, but the EFCC went ahead. It led to mutual suspicion.
“The closeness of Magu to the NSA, who had issues with DSS, aggravated the proxy war, which resulted in two damning reports against Magu. The Acting EFCC chairman is a victim of power play in the kitchen cabinet.”
“There were rumours that some suspects budgeted about N2.2billion to stop Magu’s confirmation. The EFCC stumbled on this information but it was yet to trace any transaction linked to the slush budget. The agency was suspecting under-the-table vote.”