Magu vs Malami: What’s up, boys?

by Alexander O. Onukwe

After the meeting of the Federal Executive Council on the 5th of July, Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami was said to have told journalists that, as far as Magu’s confirmation was concerned, the then Acting President Osinbajo was on his own.

Malami’s words at the time were taken to represent a disconnect between the Ministers and Prof Osinbajo on the disagreement between the Executive and the Legislature over Ibrahim Magu becoming the substantive head of the EFCC. But with more recent developments, it appears the AGF’s motivation in making the statement had been borne more out of a personal feud with Mr Magu.

Speaking to the issue, Minister of Information, Lai Mohammed explains that “there are divergent views between the AGF and the EFCC chairman and the appropriate authorities will look into it”, particularly mentioning that both men “do not see eye to eye”.

What could be at stake between both men?

Lai Mohammed says it is an administrative issue, which seems to be the case given the allegation by the media aide to the AGF, Sahilu Othman, that EFCC had sabotaged Nigeria’s membership in the Egmont Group. The group comprises the Financial Intelligence Units of 153 countries but Nigeria had been suspended from the group in early July 2017 due to what was termed the interference of the EFCC in Nigeria’s own FIU which was supposed to be independent.

The summary of Mr Othman’s – and by extension, the AGF’s – major charge against the EFCC is that the agency “misused intelligence”, according to The Cable. The suspension of Nigeria from the group was perceived as a considerable blow to Nigeria as a country that was serious about anti-corruption because the Egmont Group is the largest inter-governmental organisation of intelligence units in the world. The suspension meant that “Nigeria can no longer exchange sensitive information with other member countries in order to carry out our investigative and regulatory responsibilities as the consequences on sharing criminal intelligence and financial information bothering on money laundering, terrorism financing, proliferation of arms, corruption, financial crimes, economic crimes and such-like offences geared towards the support of local and international investigations, prosecutions and asset recovery”, according to the piece written by Mr Othman.

But beside this administrative issue, could there be more to the spat between both men which now requires the direct intervention of the President? The Buhari administration has stood by Magu so doggedly against the tide of the DSS and the Senate. It would seem he has become so beloved of the President that the cabinet official who should be directly reporting to the President on Justice matters seems to be feeling stepped on a bit.

Is their feud a clash of ethos or really a fencing of egos?

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