Ibrahim Magu, chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says the anti-graft agency is winning the fight against corruption, recalling how a lawyer “defeated” 34 Senior Advocates Nigeria (SAN) in a corruption case.
Magu accused some senior lawyers, who benefitted from the federal government’s scholarship opportunities, of turning round to work against the country by defending corrupt individuals.
He also said some corrupt persons were in the habit of hiring journalists to write against the EFCC, but said the commission would remain relentless in its quest to restore sanity to the country. He was speaking to a coalition of civil society groups who visited the headquarters of the commission in Abuja on Tuesday.
“One of the big challenges we have in the effective prosecution of the war on corruption is that of very senior lawyers who Nigeria has been very kind to: Those who went to good schools here, when Nigeria was good, many of them, on government scholarship; those who Nigeria has given so much opportunity,” he said.
“When we have corruption cases, cases of people who have stolen food from the mouths of our children; when we have cases of people who have stolen money meant to build hospitals and buy drugs; when we have cases of people who have stolen all the money meant to buy guns for our soldiers to fight Boko Haram, when we have all these cases of wicked people who have stolen Nigeria’s money, they run to these same senior lawyers, give them part of the stolen money and mobilise them to fight us, to delay us in court and to deny Nigerians of justice. These are the people who do not want justice for the common man.
“The other day, 34 Senior Advocates of Nigeria fought against only one small EFCC lawyer in court and he defeated all of them! What we are doing today is not by our power, it is the power of the Nigerian people and the power of God behind us!
“Corrupt people hire journalists to abuse us every day, they say we are not doing the work according to the law. But, that is not true. There is no agency that follows the law more than EFCC. None. Before we arrest you, or seize your property or do anything to you, we check the law, we go to court and get court order. That is why we are winning; that is why we are defeating them everyday.”
He urged the public to continue supporting EFCC’s “just cause”, saying all the stolen wealth recovered by the agency had been returned to the government.
“We want the Nigerian people to continue to support us, continue to support Mr. president’s war on corruption,” he said.
“We have many corruption cases in court. We are getting them every day from everywhere and we are recovering stolen money and taking corrupt people to court.
“The money we have recovered and the money we are going to get back from them – billions and billions of naira – is being paid back to government and will be used to do what it was originally meant for – to build hospitals, send our children to school, build roads and railways, create employment and defend our country.
“We have no other country than Nigeria. This war is the war of the people.
“Apart from the fear of God, we have no other fear. Apart from the interest of Nigeria, we have no other interest. And apart from the Rule of Law, we have no other rule guiding the work we are doing today. The days of impunity are over.
“Victory is certain for the common man! Aluta continua!”