By Edwin Ekene
Upon assumption of office in 2015, President Muhammadu Buhari left no one in doubt about his determination to ‘kill corruption’ in Nigeria.
Fight against corruption was one of his major campaign promises both in the 2015 and 2019 Presidential Elections.
At a time which impunity, flagrant display of ill-gotten wealth and economic subjugation and oppression was on the verge of disconnecting the country from the league of civilised nations of the world, President Buhari added flesh to one of his campaign promises by appointing Ibrahim Mustapha Magu as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) on November 9, 2015.
On his part, Mr. Magu left no one in doubt about his ability, courage and determination to tackle the task ahead.
Re-inventing a country where corruption had denied millions of it’s citizens their basic rights not to talk of their general rights and privileges were great battle worth giving a try.
A country where corruption had turned government hospitals to mere consulting clinics, our roads to death traps, our life expectancy to below 50 percent, our hopes to despair and our lives to miserable conditions, all efforts must be geared towards uprooting the monster called corruption from Nigeria.
In other words, we should not be in a hurry to forget the past nasty experiences where government contracts were turned in to contract bazaars for party chieftains, cronies and mistresses.
Collective wealth of the nation were shared among the privileged few while the main street citizens suffers.
Hourglass economy was introduced to create ‘loss-belt’ opportunities for friends and cronies at the top, while the masses were left in the lonely island of poverty in the vast ocean of material prosperity this nation is blessed with.
Income inequalities brought chains of discrimination against the poor and constricted them to the desolate corner of the nation.
Bad cheques of insufficient funds were raised and issued to the Nigerian masses in the midst of great hope and opportunities this nation holds for everyone.
Poverty became the dynasty of the poor because education was underfunded since billions voted for it were diverted into private pockets.
Nigeria lost-out completely in the era of Millennium Development Goals (MDG) which was replaced by Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) in 2015 without tangible project to show.
But the country heaved a sigh of relief on November 9, 2015 with the symbolic appointment of Ibrahim Magu as Acting Chairman of EFCC by the new Sheriff, President Muhammadu Buhari.
EFCC, a body saddled with the mandate of preventing financial crimes, enforcing financial laws and prosecuting financial offenders was rejuvenated.
In the shortest possible time, Mr. Magu changed the narratives as the fear of EFCC became the order of the day.
President Buhari also demonstrated his sincerest commitment to the agency’s anti-graft war by giving Mr. Magu free hands to operate.
Between November 9 and December 31th 2015, the Magu-led EFCC secured 103 convictions against financial crime offenders.
In 2016, 194 convictions were secured while 189 convictions were also made in 2017 in addition to the billions of stolen money that were recovered.
The 2018 heralded the conviction of 217 offenders while another 890 convictions were made between January and October this year.
In fact, of the 2,165 convictions that were secured between 2009 and 2019, 70 percent were secured by Mr. Magu, while over 800 billion naira were recovered within the year under review. This is outside the monthly 4.5 billion savings the commission has been saving for the Federal Government from the ghost workers syndrome or over bloated civil service.
Properties such as filling stations, lands, real estate, petroleum products, jeweries, automobiles, vessels, hospitals, company shares, heavy machines and broadcast equipments among others were recovered by the commission between 2015 and 2018.
Of the total 407 mansions seized, 126 were forfeited to the Federal Government while 281 are under interim forfeiture.
Nine filling stations were also seized and placed under interim forfeiture by the commission.
In similar vein, of the total 98 lands seized, 42 were forfeited to the Federal Government while 56 are under interim forfeiture.
Similarly, of the total 259 automobiles seized, 224 were forfeited to the Federal Government while 35 are under interim forfeiture.
A Based Transceiver Station (BTS) equipment with sites across the five eastern states was also seized and forfeited.
Another 1, 500 metric tonnes of AGO and 3, 035 metric tonnes of LPFO were forfeited while a hospital known as St. Solomon Health Care Center situated at No. 24, Adeniyi Jones Street, Ikeja was also forfeited to the Federal Government in the year under review.
Under Magu, the untouchables not only became touchable, but were also convicted and sentenced to jail. Three former governors in the person of Jolly Nyame, Joshua Dariye and Orji Kalu as well as a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Joseph Nwobike were all convicted by the Magu-led EFCC.
Among all the recoveries made by the Federal Government’s anti-graft agencies, the Magu-led EFCC made over 90 percent recoveries which made him subject of attacks by corrupt Nigerians.
As of today, foreign leaders like Alpha Conde of Guinea are beginning to come to Nigeria to learn the success story behind Nigeria’s war on corruption.
EFCC successes however did not come without stiff resistance and blackmails against Mr. Magu, but through courage, integrity, strength of character and determination, Mr. Magu made the troph possible.
Therefore, on this International Anti-corruption Day, a day set aside by the United Nations to raise awareness on the devastating effects of corruption across the globe as well as fashioning out innovative strategies to defeating the monster, President Buhari should not hesitate in re-nominating Mr. Magu for Senate confirmation as the enormity of the task ahead are challenging.
Mr. Edwin Ekene, a Columnist writes from Abuja.