Coronavirus: Understanding what Magu said

Acting EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu ozigi
Suspended EFCC chairman Ibrahim Magu

On 20 February, the comments made by acting chairman of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, Ibrahim Magu took the internet by storm.

In a spirited speech in Kaduna, northern Nigeria he said the deadly coronavirus that started in Wuhan, China was caused by corruption. His speech immediately went viral but could it be that the media misunderstood what he meant?

Below is a statement from the EFCC titled, “Covid 19: Understanding What Magu Said“.

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, wishes to note the spirited attempts by a section of the media to take the shine off its glorious outing on the occasion of the Passing Out Parade, POP, of its Detective Inspector Course 5 cadets at the Nigerian Defence Academy, NDA, in Kaduna on Tuesday, February 18, 2020.

Deal of the day

As was noted, the speech of the commission’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu on that event dwelt largely on his call on the citizens to stand up and be counted in the fight to redeem our country from corruption, an appreciation of President Muhammadu Buhari for walking his talk on corruption and the trajectory of the EFCC in the anti-graft war. These were captured in the following paragraphs which drew appreciation from his audience:

“As it is often said, in our country, tackling corruption is a clarion call, given that corruption is a huge burden to the nation. It has spread its cancerous effects to all facets of our lives. Insecurity, poverty, unemployment, falling standards of education, weak access to affordable health care, failing infrastructure, questioned integrity of the electoral process, poor business environment and lower GDP growth to mention a few, are all linked to corruption”.

Regarding the evil of corruption and the need for Nigerians to join hands in tackling the menace, Magu said, “Your Excellency, corruption is worse than cancer, Ebola-virus, Corona-virus and all other deadly diseases put together.  Fighting corruption is thus a crusade against the evils of our society that are deeply-rooted and threatening to consume us. We are aware that the task is not easy and the path can be very thorny and lonely, but with determination and a high sense of mission, we are making progress towards rooting out this evil from our society.  We all appreciate you as the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, for embarking on this mission.”

However, the Commission is appalled by the fact that a section of the traditional and the new media has been obsessed with a campaign to impugn and irritate the Commission’s boss.

In the light of this, the Commission particularly wishes to express disgust at the pettiness and ill-will in the editor’s piece on ThisDay on Sunday, February 23, 2020 titled: “Magu’s Curious Postulation on Covid 19.”

To say the least, we find the editor’s verdict on Magu regrettable and to borrow his own word, curious. Our position would not have been so if the editor had called for Magu’s head on account of poor outcomes in the anti-corruption fight, integrity questions on his personality, or for not practising what he preaches.

It should be noted that we have restrained ourselves from joining issues in a certain section of the media in the light of what Magu said on Corona-virus, but we are now constrained to issue this clarification because we least expect a medium like one of the national newspapers to join in the fray.

We wish to reiterate that the war against corruption is on course and the Commission will not be distracted in eliminating corruption in Nigeria.