Nigeria vows to fight graft, recover stolen money

The cash was sealed in plastic wrappers, hidden in filing cabinets and behind concealed panels in a wardrobe. Image courtesy: EFCC
Some of the $43 million in cash discovered by Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission in the home of the country’s spy chief in 2017. The EFCC is now vowing to root out corruption at all levels. (Photo via EFCC)

The Nigerian government has vowed to continue with the fight against rampant corruption and spare no efforts to recover all resources stolen.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, whose government on July 7 suspended Ibrahim Magu, acting head of Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over corruption claims, said there are no sacred cows in the face of anti-graft fight.

Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami on Friday confirmed that Buhari approved an immediate suspension of Magu’s office, which is to allow for an inquiry by a presidential investigation panel under the law.

Established in 2003, the EFCC is a Nigerian law enforcement agency that investigates financial crimes such as advance fee fraud and money laundering.

The agency has addressed financial corruption by prosecuting and convicting a number of high-profile corrupt individuals, ranging from Nigeria’s former chief law enforcement officer to several bank chief executives.

Magu, a senior police officer, is currently being interrogated by the panel headed by retired Justice Ayo Salami over allegations of mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets by the EFCC.

While responding to the investigation on Saturday, Garba Shehu, presidential spokesperson, said those who see Magu’s investigation as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing have been wrong.

He said that there is no better indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner against those who have been charged to be custodians of this very system.

Magu is granted the opportunity to defend himself, the spokesperson added.

Ugochukwu Nnam of the Initiative for Leadership Development and Change said the investigation of Magu is not only a wake-up call for corrupt officers but a landmark effort to end corruption.

For his part, Collins Nwankwo, a Lagos-based business expert, told Xinhua that the ongoing interrogation of Magu is a sign that nobody under the present administration is above scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the main opposition party has demanded prosecution against Magu, noting that the demand becomes necessary after reviewing evidence surrounding the investigation.

The People’s Democratic Party said in a statement that the alleged corruption detailed in the memo by the minister of justice, as well as the report of secret police on Magu’s activities, have exposed the racket under his watch.

The accusations, according to the party, include the diversion of recovered funds and fraudulent sales of assets seized by the EFCC among others.

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