Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has said the commission could still prosecute suspects, even after they have returned stolen money to the treasury. Magu had said in recent interviews that the EFCC had recovered billions of naira, especially from its ongoing investigations into the $2.1 billion arms money allegedly diverted by former NSA, Mr. Sambo Dasuki. In his first detailed interview since his appointment in November, Magu said: “What matters first and foremost is for everyone involved in the arms deal scam to return the money he or she may have collected. That does not preclude such suspect from facing prosecution.” He said this while answering a question on whether the EFCC would enter plea-bargaining with suspects or waive prosecution if stolen funds were returned.
The EFCC chairman said the rat race for wealth among public office holders was one of the major reasons for rampant corruption in the country. He said: “Political offices in Nigeria are too attractive. This encourages a rat race of sorts. Also, the judiciary, which is the last resort, has allegedly been complicit, making civil servants who have been found guilty of corruption feel confident to poke the law in the face and go scot-free.” Magu said Nigerians should be outraged at the amount of money originally set aside for the war on Boko Haram, but “which was diverted for personal use.” He said this was just one of the many cases of looted funds being investigated by the EFCC. He said: “There should be a national outrage by now. There is something wrong with our values. Corruption has been celebrated over the years.” The EFCC chairman said allegations against the commission that its anti-corruption war was politically motivated was proof that corruption was already fighting back. Magu also spoke on his first meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari, his efforts to clean up the commission and whether or not he might break the one-term jinx that has plagued the chairmen of the commission since its establishment.