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Corruption's War on the Law

From Nigeria to Italy, the forces of corruption are fighting back against those who would root them out, and from bombs and bullets to writs and motions, they will use any weapon they can to improve their chances. Not content to intimidate or even murder their opponents, now they are targeting the rule of law itself.

PARIS – When you try to fight corruption, corruption fights back. Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia could tell you that – if she had not been murdered by associates of those she was investigating. Rwandan anti-corruption lawyer Gustave Makonene, who was strangled and thrown from a car, also can’t talk. Nor can Brazilian activist Marcelo Miguel D’Elia, who was shot multiple times in a sugarcane field near his home.

Police officers, prosecutors, and public officials have also faced severe consequences for trying to take on corruption. One such official is Ibrahim Magu, who became acting chairman of Nigeria’s main anti-corruption agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), in 2015. In 2017, gunmen attacked Magu’s home, killing one of the policemen guarding it. But bullets were not what ultimately neutralized Magu. Instead, his removal from office was engineered through “lawfare” – the use (or abuse) of the law for political ends.

Last year – at a time when the EFCC was reportedly probing corruption allegations against Attorney-General Abubakar Malami – Magu was arrested and detained over allegations of corruption and insubordination, leveled by none other than Malami. Although the same allegations had been investigated and dismissed three years earlier, Magu was suspended from office, pending the outcome of a Panel of Inquiry set up by President Muhammadu Buhari.

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