The secret screening of candidates to head the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) began in earnest on Monday – six days ago.
Although it was not immediately clear which government agency is screening the candidates, dependable source close to the Presidency disclosed that “the shortlisted candidates are being screened right now.”
Though the source refused to disclose whether it is the Department of State Services (DSS) or National Intelligence Agency (NIA) that is directed to carry out the screening, other indications point to an inter-security agency screening panel to make the screening multi-dimensional as every aspect of the lives of the shortlisted candidates will be thoroughly examined.
Though newsmen could not ascertain the exact number of candidates, investigations have spotted three front-runners, at present.
One of them, from the South West, is a retired Commissioner of Police (CP) who has headed the Special Fraud Unit (SFU) of the Nigeria Police. This lawyer recently bagged a doctorate degree.
What recommended him is that while at the SFU, most high profile cybercrimes cases, and related financial crimes cases were referred to him from all police formations as well as the Force Headquarters by a particular former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) who deployed him to SFU because he believed he could revive the outfit. This man made the SFU to compete favourably with EFCC in terms of arrests, investigations and prosecutions.
Investigations revealed that under him all financial crime cases were treated with dispatch and readily prosecuted after prima facie cases were established.
The second front-runner is a serving Commissioner of Police from Yobe State. He is said to be thorough bred in cracking cybercrimes and other related financial crimes.
He is from North East geo-political zone.
A most dependable source close to the Presidency confided on newsmen on Friday that, “he is the candidate of the Attorney-General of the Federation. He (CP) almost got the job the last time around but for the publicity the press gave him. And Aso Rock was not happy about that publicity blitz.”
The source hinted that the presidency does not want to be predicted correctly because “they (Aso Rock) like to surprise the public.”
Another front-runner is a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police (AIG) from the same geo-political zone with the CP.
He had headed the Interpol arm of the police and one of the state police commands in the South West. In both places he exhibited prowess of a trained and experienced detective. He is articulate and does not compromise illegality. He is known in the Force as a stern officer.
He had also served in the EFCC as an operational officer at the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP). While in EFCC, he was said to have exhibited prowess with good track records of thorough investigations.
Many, think he is the most favoured owing to his EFCC experience. Yet, his EFCC background is proving to be a double-edged sword as those who want a fresh EFCC run by fresh faces in totally fresh ways views his EFCC experience as unwieldy garbage.
Investigations also revealed that a retired Brigadier–General from the North is also being pushed forward. He is said to be close to President Muhammadu Buhari.
However, we learnt that thick clouds have converged against him. Those kicking against his candidature are citing the Comptroller-General of Customs, a retired Colonel who was said to have earlier been recommended in 2015 to head EFCC but was dropped. His candidature was taken for granted as being unstoppable because the man was not only close to Buhari, had played unforgettable roles in all Buhari’s political campaigns, but his strong and unbending character had earned for him the “Netanyahu” sobriquet. President Buhari later appointed him to head the Customs.
It was not clear if he came into reckoning at all this time among those being screened. But we know for sure that his CV was among those earlier received at the presidency.
Efforts to determine when the body screening the candidates would submit its findings to President Buhari hit brick walls. But sources are optimistic that the next EFCC boss would be announced before the end of December, so that the EFCC will not be without a substantive head for too long or this will tell a bad tale to the international community.
Dependable sources close to the Presidency disclosed that, “the CVs of those being screened were submitted shortly after Magu’s probe panel began and untoward happenings began to be unearthed. Newsmen further learnt that the “Aso Rock influential insiders (the cabal) knew Magu would not be reinstated, so myriads of interested people began submitting names of their candidates But now, I believe only few of them have been shortlisted.”
Furthermore, investigations revealed when that, since Friday 20, 2020 Justice Ayo Salami probe panel submitted its report on the suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC Ibrahim Magu, to President Muhammadu Buhari, there have been intense lobbying for Magu’s job.
Investigations further revealed that numerous CVs of many contestants were submitted to the Chief of Staff, the Attorney-General and the National Security Adviser (NSA) by top politicians.
Ibrahim Magu was suspended on July 7, 2020 on allegations of anti-graft agency had himself graft questions to answer. That was when Magu the dreaded hunter became Magu the pitiable hunter.
It will be recalled that, newsmen reported that, the Director of Operations Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Mohammed Umar, who on July 10, 2020 was directed by the Presidency to act in Magu’s stead may eventually not be confirmed as the Chairman of the anti-graft agency, when many had thought he was a shoo-in for the job.
We also reported that, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister for Justice, Abubakar Malami, the Chief of Staff to the President, Professor Ibrahim Agboola Gambari, the National Security Adviser (NSA), the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohammed Adamu as well as one of the Northern Governors were said to have been sponsoring different candidates.
Yet, newsmen report that the First Lady, Mrs. Aisha Buhari had a soft spot for a former Military Administrator from her Adamawa State made the most wave in the sea of public opinion.
It will be recalled that those who had headed the anti-graft agency are all from the northern part of the country.
The first was retired AIG Nuhu Ribadu from Adamawa State, who was appointed as a serving Deputy Commissioner of Police, before he rose to the rank of AIG. He was followed by retired AIG Mrs. Farida Waziri from Benue State and married to a Gombe State man. Ribadu’s Director of Operations, AIG Ibrahim Lamorde from Adamawa State took over from Waziri. Again, Ibrahim Magu also from the north took over from Lamorde.
A senior officer from the Southern part of the country, who pleaded anonymity, frowned at how Southerners are not considered for sensitive positions, saying this dampens the morale of a whole lot of Southerners in the Force. The officer, giving credence to his belief, cited late Mrs. Dora Akunyili from the eastern part of the country, who headed National Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and performed creditably well.
“Mrs. Dora Akunyili was an Igbo woman. Ordinarily, she would not have been given NAFDAC job, because it is believed that Igbo people are more into drug business and she could compromise. But she did not, rather, she did a perfect job,” he buttressed his argument.