- President must act carefully, says PACAC member
By Egena Sunday Ode
Aside from the need to make the point that nobody is too big or influential to stand probe under the President Muhammadu Buhari administration, the ongoing interrogation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, is to give him the opportunity to clear himself of weighty allegations.
That was the assertion of the presidency on Tuesday while reacting to the current scrutiny of the EFCC boss by the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel, sitting at the banquet hall in the Aso Rock Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to facts made available to State House correspondents by an anonymous presidency source yesterday, the investigation of the EFCC boss was to reinforce the Buhari administration’s commitment to transparency and accountability.
The presidency source affirmed that the holder of an elevated office such as the chairman of the EFCC must be above board.
It assured that the administration would not prejudge anyone as it could be counted on to uphold justice and fairness.
The source stated: “The panel investigating allegations against Ag. EFCC Chairman had been sitting for some weeks now.
“In consonance with the principle of fairness and justice, it was needful that the Ag. Chairman be given opportunity to respond to the allegations, which are weighty in nature.
“Under the Muhammadu Buhari administration, nobody is above scrutiny. Repeat: nobody.
“The investigation is to reinforce transparency and accountability, rather than to vitiate it.
“Accountability for our actions or inactions is inalienable part of democracy.
“In such elevated position as that of EFCC Chairman, the holder of the position must be above suspicion.
“There’s no prejudgment. Absolutely none. The Buhari administration can be counted on to uphold fairness and justice at all times.”
The Justice Ayo Salami-led probe panel continued its sitting on Tuesday in efforts to unravel the allegations of abuse of office against Magu by the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The panel which began sitting three weeks ago, it was learnt, only succeeded in dragging the EFCC boss before it on Monday after he was whisked in a Gestapo style by DSS operatives at the central area of Abuja.
Meanwhile, there were conflicting reports over Monday’s incident, which led to the alleged “arrest” of Magu on the street. While a version claimed it was due to the EFCC boss’ refusal to honour the panel’s several invitations officially extended to him, another version suggested that the “arrest” was the outcome of power play with powerful forces angling for the removal of Magu.
Reports quoted a reaction by the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) over the Magu saga.
A statement attributed to Professor Femi Odekunle, a member of PACAC questioned some of the actions initiated against Magu.
The statement said “This is a preliminary reaction of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) to the alleged ‘arrest’ of Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). Of course, the real information reaching us is that he was only invited to appear before a Panel set up not long ago concerning some alleged memo by Malami, Attorney General and Minister of justice, regarding some alleged malfeasance by Magu, along with nominations for his replacement.
“It was just that those sent to invite him for whatever reasons best known to them invited some press along and made it look an arrest. That mischief has been confirmed by some apparent afterthought denial by the DSS that it was not an arrest.
“The position of PACAC is that while Magu, or any official of whatever status, must be nailed if found to be corrupt, the President must be careful not to shoot its anti-corruptiont /modest achievements in the foot, and not to forget that EFCC under Magu has been the Administration’s anti-corruption poster-face.
“Notwithstanding the situation at hand, the hope of PACAC is that the President would wake up to the ongoing shenanigans of power players that are working from the inside against his anti-corruption fight.”