Ibrahim Magu, who has acted as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission since 2016 has been suspended from his position. The Presidency had summoned Mr Magu to discuss the sale of seized assets the day before, and then suspended him “to allow him to face the probe into the allegations against him.” Mr Magu had appeared before a panel probing allegations of gross misconduct against him on Monday. The panel is led by Ayo Salami, a retired justice of the appeal court. The development is coming after Magu was arrested and detained by security operatives in Abuja Monday following a memo by Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation, in which the suspended anti-graft czar was accused of grave malfeasance. Presidency spokesman, Garba Shehu, said Mr Magu was summoned to discuss the anti-graft agency’s sale of recovered assets based on Malami’s petition. Mr Magu was accused of mishandling recovered loot, and selling seized assets to associates. He was also alleged to have refused to subject himself to the supervision of the office of the attorney-general. Femi Odekunle, a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, has accused Mr Malami of waging a grudge war against Mr Magu, who he claims is the victim of a power-play at the Presidency.

Two years before the commencement of operations at the Lekki port, the ₦596 billion facility is still without a plan for a railway and road link to facilitate the movement of cargoes. The project, which is set to become the first deepwater port in West Africa, will have a 1.5 million TEU container capacity yearly. Currently, the Lekki port’s breakwater is more than half completed. The facility, which sits on 90 hectares of land at the centre of the Lagos Free Trade Zone, will have a 1.5km long breakwater, 6km long approach channel with 19.5m draught, 670m diameter turning circle and 1.5km long quay wall. However, a visit by The Guardian newspaper to the part facility showed only a narrow road ‘Akodo Road’ which connects the facility and several other industries in the area such as Dangote Fertilizer and Refinery Plant, Dano Milk, Kelloggs, Indomie, Raffles Oil, and Insignia Prints. The zone will contain a new international airport, Pan Atlantic University, Eleganza Industrial City, and Bolore Transport and Logistics, among others. The area is also witnessing the rapid development of at least 70 residential estates, indicating that without rail and alternative roads, the volume of traffic on existing roads would increase remarkably and affect operations at the facility. An executive of the Lekki project told the newspaper that the project has not had any plan for rail link since inception. He, however, said the FG promised to incorporate a railway to the facility.

Military sources have told the Daily Trust that Boko Haram insurgents use weapons and hardware stolen during attacks on military formations in the northeast to carry out their terrorist activities. Reacting to a statement by the Coordinator, Defence Media Operations, Major-General John Enenche, that the military does not know those sponsoring terrorist groups in the country and how they get their weapons, one of the sources said it is not correct to say that the weapons being showcased by the terrorists are anything different from those procured for Nigerian soldiers. Most of these vehicles, armoured vehicles and other military hardware were stolen from military bases, from frontline troops, and some other military locations. The terrorist groups also get their weapons from neighbouring Lake Chad countries at giveaway prices as it is easier to move arms and ammunition to Lake Chad Basin because of porous borders, the source said.

Amadou Gon Coulibaly, the Prime Minister of Côte d’Ivoire and the ruling party’s candidate for the presidential election scheduled for October died on Wednesday 8 July 2020. The incident occurred a few days after his return from a two-month-long medical treatment in France. Mr Coulibaly, who had a history of cardiovascular illness which led him to undergo heart surgery in 2012, was said to have been unwell during a weekly cabinet meeting and was rushed to a hospital where he died. Coulibaly’s death comes a few months to the presidential election where he had been tipped by many as the favourite to win. His death is set to create a lot of uncertainty within the ruling party, Rally of Houphouëtists for Democracy and Peace (RHDP), as to who becomes the party’s flagbearer for the upcoming election. Speaking on Coulibaly’s death, the country’s president, Alassane Ouattara, in a statement referred to Coulibaly as his “youngest brother and son” and one of his closest political ally for 30 years. “I salute the memory of a statesman of great loyalty, devotion and love for his country,” he added. In March, President Ouattara defused political tensions in the country when he formally withdrew his candidacy, promising not to seek a third term in office and designating Coulibaly as the RHDP’s candidate. Ouattara’s move comes after months of speculations and mixed messaging in which he had told reporters that the new constitution of 2016, following a referendum which many of the opposition boycotted, allowed him to seek a third term in office.

Commentary

  • There are many things to unpack in the ongoing Magu saga, and so many examples of abuse of power for personal gain. The first is the question of why Nigeria’s secret police is involved in investigating alleged financial crimes. Not the EFCC, not the Nigerian Police, not the Independent Corrupt Practices Commission, but the Department of State Services. The establishment acts of both Mr Magu’s EFCC and its sister agency, the ICPC, clearly fix legal responsibility for investigating and prosecuting financial crimes with both agencies, with tangential roles for the police. The DSS’s establishment act – The National Security Agencies Act of 1986 which also created the Defence Intelligence Agency (military-related intelligence outside and inside Nigeria) and the National Intelligence Agency (external intelligence and counterintelligence) – is tasked with matters related to domestic intelligence, counterterrorism as well as providing protection for the President and senior government officials. The second is that Mr Magu has remained in his position in an acting capacity for four years. This is because the Senate refused to confirm him due to corruption allegations. The DSS also wrote two reports about this when he was first nominated. Yet, the President repeatedly sent his name for confirmation, and when he was not confirmed, ignored the Senate and kept him in an acting capacity. The third is the politics of it – Mr Magu was said to have political cover from the late Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, and had been at loggerheads with what was Mr Malami’s camp as a result. Now a political orphan, it is amazing how quickly his opponents have moved against him citing the same reasons the Senate insisted on years ago. Sadly, in Nigeria, politics often trumps the actual work of following the letter and spirit of due process, so many of those that defended the President’s repeated undermining of the Legislature on Mr Magu’s behalf are today speaking against him. It is, however, a lesson for those in power – in Nigeria, power is fleeting and it is best to remember this as you wield it. Mr Malami and all those jostling for 2023, focusing on politicking without actually governing, will do well to remember this. The main takeaway from this scandal around Mr Magu is that it will have an effect on internal APC politics and the struggles for who picks the party’s ticket in 2023 to succeed President Buhari.
  • The Lekki Port is expected to offer relief from the bitter experiences that businesspeople and other commuters experience at Apapa, which is battling to stay alive as a result of poor access roads. However, even at its onset, this port is already worse off than Apapa. Apapa has more than one access road, yet this port is starting off with just one. Nigeria is estimated to be losing about ₦600 billion monthly to the port’s dilapidated access roads. Apapa has rail, but at some point, it fell into disuse. From the look of things, a rail connection for the Lekki Port is pie in the sky. It is amazing that despite the amount of investment going into the area, the government cannot deliver on basic infrastructure to even power it. But this is not surprising. This is the story of Apapa. It is the story of the Lagos Badagry Expressway axis. Private investors make all the effort, and the government fails to deliver on their part – and their part is what multiplies the value and drives the costs down. The Lekki Port is best advised to seek support from anywhere else apart from the government.
  • The news from the Daily Trust tallies with observations that attacks by Boko Haram on the military often lead to the loss of military equipment in cases where the terrorists aren’t successfully repelled. These equipment have been seen in videos of attacks by the terrorists, including armoured vehicles. It is also curious that the military feigns ignorance of how the terrorists obtain their weapons or how they are funded as it shows a glaring lack of intelligence on the terrorists; a key factor limiting the success of the Nigerian military and despite two high profile incidents: one on 27 June when soldiers and the Civilian Joint Task Force members escorting commuter vehicles were ambushed in the area and soldiers killed, including Lieutenant Sino Malgwi as well as another on 7 July in which ISWAP ambushed and killed 23 Nigerian soldiers on 7 July at Bulabulin in Damboa LGA, Borno. It is clear that the terrorists take advantage of the porous borders in the Lake Chad region which is contiguous to the vast empty spaces of the Sahel that has facilitated drug, human and arms trafficking networks for decades. This shows that without adequate border security and cooperation with neighbouring countries, illegal arms and small weapons will continue to flow into the country while the terrorist group will continue its campaign of forced taxation, kidnapping and looting to fund its purchase of these weapons. This lack of situational awareness is exacting a catastrophic human toll on the region – The Nigeria Security Tracker indicates that 89 people died within the period from 29 June- 3 July, with a further 55 abductions over the same period. The recent attack on a UN helicopter suggests that the terrorists are now using surface-to-air missiles, a dangerous escalation in the conflict and one that also has direct implications on civilian air traffic, especially as Nigeria moves to reopen domestic flights.
  • Coulibaly’s death undoubtedly comes at a very turbulent time in Côte d’Ivoire’s political history. Even with President Alassane Ouattara’s decision to step aside, political tensions are still brewing in the world’s top cocoa grower, a country still recovering from the wounds of political violence and a civil war that left many dead. The main opposition party, Parti démocratique de Côte d’Ivoire (PDCI) also known as Democratic Party of Côte d’Ivoire, have accused the governing RHDP of using the machinery of government, intimidation and harassment to stifle dissent and political participation from the opposition. In October 2019, Jacques Mangoua, a leading figure of the PDCI, was arrested and sentenced to five years in prison after being found guilty for possession of illegal weapons in his house, an accusation he continues to deny. In addition, opposition parties have continued to boycott the Independent Electoral Commission – the institution responsible for administering elections in the country – claiming that the commission is filled with people close to and loyal to the president. There have also been tensions as to whether to postpone the elections as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Within the ruling party, Coulibaly’s death means that a new party candidate would have to be selected; observers have suggested that the Defence Minister, Hamed Bakayoko, is a likely replacement. Others have hypothesised that Ouattara might likely decide to run again or that the ruling party would drop charges against Guillaume Soro, a former prime minister and ex-rebel leader, who was sentenced in absentia (while resident in France) to 20 years in prison for embezzlement and given a $7.6 million fine, which his lawyers have claimed was a politically motivated decision. Aside from the obvious uncertainty Coulibaly’s death throws the PDCI into, it is likely to stoke residual tension within the country as other parties aim to capitalise on it to dislodge the governing party in the October election.