Magu must be treated fairly — SERAP

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Alleged Fraud: Magu, EFCC secretary, directors appear before panel
Alleged Fraud: Magu, EFCC secretary, directors appear before panel

Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged President Muhammadu Buhari to afford EFCC boss Ibrahim Magu his right to a fair trial.

“Magu must either be charged with a recognizable criminal offence or released immediately and allowed to do his job without fear of reprisals,” the organisation said on Tuesday.

It expressed concerns about reports that Magu’s arrest may be ‘the outcome of power-play’ at the highest levels of government,” quoting Dr Femi Odekunle a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC)

Magu is reportedly still being detained in police custody on the orders of a presidential panel probing alleged infractions against him.

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In a statement today by SERAP deputy director Kolawole Oluwadare, the organisation said: “The reported statement by a member of PACAC seems to suggest that Magu’s arrest may be politically motivated and aim to undermine the independence and freedom of action of the EFCC.

“If true, this would make a mockery of Buhari’s oft-repeated commitment to fight grand corruption and the impunity of perpetrators, which is fuelling widespread and systemic corruption in the country.

“Nigerian authorities cannot continue to keep Magu in detention under suspicious circumstances without bringing any legitimate charges against him in violation of national and international law.”

“Nigerian authorities must support the independence and freedom of action of anti-corruption agencies and institutions if they are to be able to genuinely fight grand corruption, which has for many years turned public service for many into a kind of criminal enterprise,” SERAP said.

On Monday, Femi Odekunle, a member of PACAC, accused Justice Minister Abubakar Malami of taking advantage of his closeness to the president to lead an “onslaught” against Magu.

“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.

“The alleged originating Malami memo, up to the current “arrest“ seems an outcome of power-play by power blocs in the corridors of power in which Malami appears to be an arrow-head or major agent of a power bloc that is not really interested in, or in support of, Buhari’s anti-corruption fight.