The Nigerian Presidency on Saturday said President Muhammadu Buhari’s decision to suspend the former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu was a proof that there is no special treatment for anyone in the government’s fight against corruption.
“Under this President and Government, this is our mantra and guiding principle. There are no sacred cows, and for those who think they have a halo over their heads, their days are also numbered,” presidential spokesman Garba Shehu said in a statement.
“No other administration in the history of Nigeria would have moved to bring into the light and public domain such an allegation.”
Buhari on Friday approved Magu’s suspension days after he appeared before an investigative panel on allegations of corruption.
Magu was appointed EFCC acting chairman in 2015 to replace Farida Waziri who was removed by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2014.
Since his appointment, although in an acting capacity, Magu spearheaded the Buhari government’s fight against graft and economic corruption. But the last seven days have been unceremonious for the Nigerian anti-graft czar who was arrested, detained and interrogated for more than four days.
While in detention, Magu wrote to the inspector general of police on Friday and sought release on bail. He was still in detention at the time of filing this report.
His arrest, Shehu said, is an “indication that the fight is real and active than the will to investigate allegations in an open and transparent manner.”
“Mr. Magu was not immune – and regardless of the obvious embarrassment that potential acts of wrongdoing by him, given the office he held, may appear for the government,” Shehu said.
Prior to Magu’s arrest, Nigeria’s secret police – Department of State Service (DSS) in a report in 2016 accused Magu of being involved in shady deals in connivance with persons of questionable character.
Magu’s interrogation after over four years of the report, critics alleged was a proof that the Buhari government was losing the fight against corruption. This, presidential spokesman, Shehu, said was far from the truth.
“Those who see Mr. Magu’s investigation, as a signal that the fight against corruption is failing, have unfortunately, missed the boat,” Shehu said.
“What is however important is that there must be accountability and transparency and our people must realize that they would be held to account.”