Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, on Tuesday evaded questions on the recent calls for the probe of the Chief of Army Staff, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai, for purchasing properties worth $1.5m in Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Magu was departing the Rockview Classic Hotel, in Abuja, venue of a one-day workshop on ‘Anti-corruption, ethics of the legal profession and justice sector,’ when some journalists approached him for an interview.
The event was co-organised by the Nigerian Bar Association and the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption.
Magu had adjusted himself to take questions from the journalists but as soon as the first question bordering on Buratai was asked, he sharply turned back and jumped into his waiting car.
Incidentally, while speaking earlier at the event, Magu had lamented various corrupt acts including a situation where a civil servant paid as much as over N800m as legal fee to lawyer.
Magu queried how a civil servant could have legitimately earned as much as N800m to pay a lawyer.
This came few days after some prominent legal practitioners, including Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), had urged President Muhammadu Buhari to sack Buratai, if the Army chief failed to voluntarily resign following the revelation that he purchased the Dubai properties.
Magu had while speaking at the event had said his commission would start going after lawyers who aid their clients in laundering money.
He said the commission would not spare anybody, including Senior Advocates of Nigeria, who were found to have helped others to buy properties with stolen funds.
Other speakers at the event included the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Mahmud Mohammed, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami; and the Chairman, PACAC, Prof. Itse Sagay (SAN).
Magu said, “I don’t want to mention some of our strategies, but we will start going after people now. If you are involved in laundering money, we will go after you it doesn’t matter who you are because the law does not respect anybody – whether you are the EFCC chairman, whether you are SAN.
“Sooner or later we will look at how people assist people to buy properties with stolen funds, how people assist others to escape justice and we will go after them.
“But for now, I want to say, please, join us in the fight against corruption to save this country so that our children and grandchildren will have a greater Nigeria.”
He said the issue of human rights needed to be de-emphasised in the ongoing war against corruption, as he urged lawyers to ply their trade while placing the interest of the nation above any other consideration.
Represented by a Justice of the Supreme Court, Justice Kudirat Kekere-Ekun, the CJN said some recent events had called for self-assessment by players in the legal circles and justice system.
The CJN said, “Indeed, recent events within the profession have no doubt thrown up questions bordering on the ethical content of our profession and justice system, as well as its readiness to properly fight against corrupt practice.
“If charity, as they say begins at home, self appraisal must by necessity, start there too.
“This event calls for honest discourse and impartial considerations on a wide range of issues- legislative, fiscal, institutional and more importantly ethical, as affect the conduct of our Justice system.”