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Magu Magu justice – Guilty until proven innocent

Ibrahim Magu, the boss of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) claimed on Monday at a National Open Government Partnership retreat that: “Whoever we arrested for corruption must be guilty of it”.

Magu is also a police officer, but seems oblivious of the basic principle of the criminal justice system – that of the presumption of innocence until proven guilty. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 11, states: “Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

Magu’s job as a law enforcement officer is to ensure that any corruption charges brought before a court includes enough evidence to secure a conviction. It is for the courts to determine guilt after a trial and not for Magu and the EFCC.

His comment about guilt implies that Nigeria should do away with trials and simply jail the suspects. President Muhammadu Buhari has claimed on several occasions that in his days as a military dictator in the 1980s, those arrested for corruption, were guilty until they could prove their innocence.

Magu seems to be operating along these lines. This could explain why the Buhari administration has continued to flout court orders to release on bail those charged with corruption.

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