By Emmanuel Aziken
The narrative about the job of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC being a poisoned chalice is one that flows from the disastrous end of the stewardship of all occupants of that position to date.
That the stewardships of Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri, Ibrahim Lamorde, and Ibrahim Magu ended unceremoniously, however, was not without external influence. All the previous occupants were shoveled out of office by the political circumstances of the environment under which they served.
However, it is debatable if any of the four previous holders of the office was as brazen as Ibrahim Magu in exposing himself or herself to politics.
Magu’s political indiscretion perhaps reached a climax on May 15, 2018, as President Muhammadu Buhari pondered how he was going to navigate his second term bid.
On that day Magu, still a serving police officer, appeared on a television programme wearing a lapel pin with an insignia for Buhari’s second term.
It was at a time that the president had not yet declared for the office or the campaigns officially kicked off.
That the man vested with the power to campaign and fight corruption was now on national television fighting for the second term of Buhari easily gave him away.
So, if Magu who is now being investigated for graft is not guilty of the allegations of stealing money, he may under fair circumstances be tried for political corruption.
But was Magu the first?
The role of the first appointee, to wit, the likeable Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, in stopping one of the most phenomenal politicians in the first eight years of the Fourth Republic has been well noted.
Dr. Peter Odili had by late 2006 practically gotten himself the presidential ticket of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP.
Northerners who had dreamt of returning the presidency to the North had given in to his charm and patronage. The saying “Peter Dey Pay,” was not for nothing.
As his rivals for the presidential ticket arrived Abuja for the convention they found to their amazement that there were no hotels for them, the well organized Odili Campaign having taken up the most prestigious hotels in the federal capital.
His charm was also aided by the melting smile and presence of his lovable wife, Justice Mary Odili, with whom they made an idyllic First Couple.
However, allegations of corruption circulated by Ribadu among the inner caucus around President Olusegun Obasanjo helped to force him out of the contest.
Even more, Dr. Obasanjo’s determination to assuage one of his beloved political enablers with the position of running mate was frustrated by the cabal.
Their strategy was to use the media, a strategy that Magu has been repeatedly accused of adopting, in orchestrating the media trial of the then Rivers State governor.
It suffices to say that Dr. Odili who could have been president straight in 2007 or maybe as vice-president to Yar`Adua has yet to fully get the bounce that people everywhere knew with him as Peter Dey Pay!
The stories of many others who were rightly or wrongly subjected to the Odili treatment are yet to be told.
However, Magu’s present circumstances according to those in the know and other discerning observers presages the script against one of Nigeria’s most notable political stakeholders of the present dispensation.
It is said to be a script laced with more dramatic scenes than that of Odili that was just in two scenes within the precincts of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The removal of Adams Oshiomhole as national chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC was a scene in the script that is directed towards the presidential elections of 2023.
It is even remarkable that Magu’s strength in Abuja came from the political axis that is now losing potency in government and in the ruling APC.
Of course few would believe the claim that he gifted Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo with N4 billion. However, that the narration went viral only goes to establish how the badge of corruption would be used to damage political rivals ahead of the 2023 race.
Remarkably, within a day of Magu’s arrest, demonstrators in Abuja organized a rally in Abuja calling for the interrogation of the national leader of the APC, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu over reports of the presence of two bullion vans in his Bourdillon Road residence before the 2019 presidential election.
Even if it were true that money was moved in the house for the purpose of the APC winning the election, the authors of the script apparently do not care!
Given that no one saw money being moved out of the vans or any act of indiscretion on the part of the renowned leader, the fact that demonstrators breached COVID-19 guideline enforcers to make their demands would underline the desperation of those determined to re-enact the Odili affair.
The removal of Magu and the intentions of those playing the script would increasingly play out as 2023 approaches. Given their desperation and the politics of survival one can readily guess that their target (s) may not give them that opportunity of humiliation. That is because as the Irish poet said:
He who fights and runs away. May live to fight another day;
But he who is battle slain. Can never rise to fight again.”