Rise and Fall of Ibrahim Magu: How Abba Kyari’s death, Tinubu’s demystification cost him dearly

Monday, 5th July, Nigeria’s N0 1 spymaster, Ibrahim Magu was intercepted in traffic in Abuja, by the Department of Security Services, DSS and driven to the presidential villa under still veiled circumstances.

News that Magu was arrested sent the country in a frenzy of debates for a couple of hours until the DSS diffused the tension by issuing a statement that Ibrahim Magu was only ‘invited’ and not arrested.

Those in the know of the workings of the DSS, argue that an invitation by the security agency is actually an arrest. By the morning of this report, news frittered out that the embattled crime Czar was held in custody overnight at the Force CID, Area 10 in Abuja on orders from above.

Ibrahim Magu has been in a long battle of wills with the Attorney General of the federation, Abubakar Malami. The AGF had a couple of weeks ago, accused the EFCC boss of corruption and insubordination. 

Emerging reports have revealed that the Malami vs Magu battle line is a result of a high level powerplay which has spanned many years. 

It will be recalled that the 8th senate led by Bukola Saraki refused to confirm Magu as substansive EFCC chairman based on a report from the DSS which allegedly accused Magu of fraudulent activities.

Magu however could not be shaken and remained the acting Chairman of the agency for five years running.

Why did Magu last so long despite the alleged allegations of corruption?

Abba Kyari

1. Sources indicate that Magu was able to retain his position because he allegedly had the backing of Chief of Staff, it is widely believed that the late Abba Kyari as his ‘godfather’ protected him against all allegations leveled against him.

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2. Buhari

President Buhari fully believed that Magu was gaining grounds in his fight against corruption. On resumption of office, Buhari’s cardinal agenda was to bring corruption to its knees. 

Magu, through his initiative, the Whistle blower policy, seemed to have been helping the president achieve his dream of ridding Nigeria of corrupt elements and corruption. Magu went to town as the ‘Mayor’ who blasted all corrupt elements and fished them from their hideouts. Initially, he made some giant strides, arresting alleged looters of public funds and their hidden money. He seemed to be able to sniff the wads of notes whereever they were hidden. The spymaster dug out hundreds of millions from septic tanks, holes dug in farmlands, airconditioned containers and apartments. 

His hugest find was the millions of dollars and pound sterling found in an Ikoyi flat but that became the beginning of criticisms as the controversial operation begged more questions than were answered. 

The money which was recovered in a flat on Osbourne road Ikoyi, summed at, $43.4m, £27,800, N23.2m. 

It turned out the flat belonged to a former PDP chairman, Adamu Muazu who quickly released a statement that though he built the house, he has since sold it.

The Federal Government however tactfully claimed ownership saying the money belonged to the National Intelligence Agency and stashed there by the former DG of the agency, Ambassador Ayo Oke. 

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Accordingly, the President inaugurated a three-man Committee comprising the Hon. Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, and the National Security Adviser, headed by the Vice President, to conduct an investigation into the circumstances in which the NIA came into possession of the funds, how and by whose or which authority the funds were made available to the NIA, and to establish whether or not there has been a breach of the law or security procedure in obtaining custody and use of the funds.

Mr Oke came under hot fire but till date Nigerians are still in a haze as to what really happened to the money.

People began to question Magu’s mode of operation, his penchant for media trial of alleged looters and inability to get as much convictions in court. He began to lose public appeal and the decent continued. 

3. Over Bloating Figures

It was becoming clear to Nigerians that Magu was allegedly exaggerating recovered loot as the declared figures published conflicted those released by the government and people began to question why government needed to borrow so much while Magu the star spymaster had declared even more money than what government was borrowing.

People began to doubt Magu’s integrity.

4. Tinubu

However far fetched it sounds, there are those who believe that Ibrahim Magu is a ‘Tinubu boy’. These people argue that with Tinubu’s influence waning in the helms of affairs of the All People’s Congress, APC, Magu’s days in the EFCC are numbered.

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5. Arrogance 

Magu was almost untouchable for the most part of his career and it is generally believed the he became arrogant and careless. Renting a house at N20m annually, paying N40m upfront, furnishing it with N43m and allegedly paying through a crony, allegedly living a lavish lifestyle and more recently allegedly hiring a private jet to Dubai during lockdown without due process are some of the excuses his critiques point out.

His running battle with the Attorney General who has accused him of insurbodination was somewhere waiting to be dug out at the appropriate time and with a new power block at the Aso Villa, the AGF did not waste time opening the EFCC’s cupboard allegedly full of skeletons.

Indeed, Prof. Femi Odekunle, a professor and member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, insinuated in a statement on Monday that the Attorney General was using a power block in the presidency to fight his ‘war’ against the EFCC boss:

“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,” Odekunle said.

It is noteworthy that the anti-graft boss was not driven to the DSS headquaters after his arrest but to the presidential villa where the DSS said he was taken to answer allegations of money laundering.

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