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Anti-graft war: No sacred cows –Magu

By Willy Eya

AS President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration intensifies its anti-graft war, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu has assured Nigerians that there would be no sacred cows.

Giving notice that more corrupt people would be handcuffed if there is need for it, the anti-corruption Czar said he is not afraid of corruption fighting back just as he said he is ready to die in the battle against graft in the country.

Speaking at the corporate headquarters of The Sun Publishing Limited in Lagos yesterday, during a courtesy call, Magu said the commission was investigating virtually everybody, including his predecessor, Ibrahim Lamorde and others, both in and out of government.

“We are investigating everybody, whether you are in government or out of government. It is turn by turn. But, we do not just jump at conclusion like that. We conduct preliminary investigation. The fact that you are in government does not absolve you from being invited, cautioned and prosecuted by the EFCC. “Nobody will go unpunished. Don’t allow your matter to be on our table. We do not close cases. Case does not die in EFCC.”

On the menace of corruption, he said: “We cannot afford to allow the corrupt ones in our midst continue in their nefarious ways. Building synergy against corrupt practices is one potent way of eradicating this evil.”

On the possibility of inviting former President Goodluck Jonathan to answer questions on the arms deal saga, for instance, the EFCC boss was not categorical, but said the commission was in possession of approvals made. “What we are doing is about Nigeria and not an individual. I feel that we are all stakeholders in this job.”

Magu said he is not afraid of corruption fighting back, while expressing his readiness to pay the supreme price in his bid to rid the country of graft.

“I work like there will be no tomorrow. I am not scared about corruption fighting back because I want to be remembered as somebody who died for the cause of fighting corruption. If there is cause for me to die because of fighting corruption, then Nigerians will remember me for that,” he said.

He regretted the level of corruption in the country, saying that the commission would soon move against Bureau de Change operators who are used as conduits to perpetrate corruption in the country, adding that there is need to look at what is happening in the budget office.

“What is happening in the budget office, you people should go and investigate. That is why the president is trying to scatter the budget office because that is where they do the padding. I am telling you that you would shed tears when you know what is happening there. Most of these monies go into private pockets.

“They move public money into Bureaux de Change; very soon, I will start dealing with them. In fact, I am already constituting a Task Force to identify the owners of Bureaux de Change and prosecute them. They take government money and transfer it to an account of a Bureau de Change. They incorporate so many companies and buy dollars at Bureau de Change and give the money back to them.”

He recalled the good old days in the country, regretting that so many things have gone wrong in Nigeria.

“When I was in primary school and secondary school, we did not buy books; government brought brand new textbooks and exercise books for us. I remember that we used to pay school fees, but it was nothing to write home about. In secondary school, when I was going home, they gave me transport money. That transport money is what I used to keep in my pocket.

“When I went to School of Basic Studies, without me doing the scholarship interview, they gave me a lot of money, about N900. I was never ‘koboless’ until I finished at the university.

Now, that does not happen again. Now, they are just collecting the money and not working. Look at this armsgate. One officer said that when they went to Maiduguri, the soldiers were begging for ammunition from police men.”

The EFCC boss urged The Sun to support the commission in the anti-corruption war as a means of building a formidable and buoyant future for Nigerians.

Earlier, Managing Director/Editor in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie, welcomed the EFCC boss and told him that as the “Voice of the Nation,” the media organisation represents every Nigerian, including the downtrodden.

He said that The Sun has been in the vanguard of the fight against corruption in Nigeria and explained that the organisation is stubbornly committed to the propagation of the truth.

Osagie assured Magu that The Sun is on the same page with the EFCC in the fight against corruption.

The Sun management team that welcomed the EFCC boss’ delegation including Mr. Osagie were Deputy Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, Mr. Steve Nwosu; Executive Director, Special Duties, Mr. Tunji Bolaji: Editor, Daily Sun, Mr. Onuoha Ukeh; General Manager, Special Publications, Mr. Kunle Solaja: Editor, Saturday Sun, Mr. Bruce Malogo; Editor, Sunday Sun, Abdulfatai Oladeinde and Deputy Editor, Saturday Sun, Femi Babafemi.

Others were Editor, Sporting Sun, John Joshua- Akanji; News Editor, Adetutu Folasade-Koyi and Assistant Editor (Politics), Iheanacho Nwosu.