Twenty four hours after the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, told State House correspondents that the Red Chamber did not reject the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as well as indict the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal, the Senate leadership, yesterday, dissociated itself from the claim.
The Upper Legislative Chamber, through its spokesman, Senator Abdullahi Sabi, nullified the claims. Addressing an emergency press conference, Sabi stated that the position of the Senate was that the nomination of Magu has been rejected and has been returned to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Abdullahi said Ndume who serves as the Senate Majority Leader, cannot speak for the Red Chamber.
Ndume had maintained that though Lawal was recommended for sack over the alleged fraud in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps, the Senate did not give a directive to the executive, while on Magu, he said the Upper Legislative Chamber only demanded some clarifications from President Muhammadu Buhari, following a report received from the Department of State Services (DSS).
He had stated: “Its not an order we are giving. The Senate resolution is a recommendation; it’s not a law. What the Senate considered is work in progress because it was an interim report.
“It is the same public that is interested and worried to know what we have done as a Senate about those allegations. The committee issued an interim report and the interim report seemed to indict the SGF, the consequences of that indictment is what they recommended but we are not there yet because the report itself is interim. Okay, we take the interim report, we give the public until the whole investigation is concluded.
“I hear, coming from the SGF that he has not been given a fair hearing, so the hearing has not finished. We can give him time to go before the committee and clear himself.”
But reacting yesterday, Senator Sabi said: “The call to national duty is crucial. So I am here based on series of calls and text messages from you about what you thought are conflicting messages. It has been become critical for the senate to clarify issues. The 8th senate believes in its integrity; we uphold and promote the rule of law which is the basic thing about our democracy. We are committed to doing things differently to stabilize the polity in the collective interest of Nigerians.
“I would like to make the following clarifications. I am holding the votes and proceeding of Thursday. We had two votes and proceeding because we had to go into joint session to receive Buhari.
“Our votes and proceedings are the official records of what transpired in chamber. I briefed you on Thursday to the effect that the senate is announcing that in view of security reports we were unable to confirm Magu. We then rejected and returned the nomination to Buhari for further action.”
Sabi noted that “media reports emerging especially from interviews granted by Senator Ndume meant that we have to clarify issues. For the records, I am the official spokesman of the senate and I intend to discharge this with honour and integrity because the sanctity of the institution is crucial to the sustenance of democracy.”
According to the Senate spokesman, “I have only one point of reference, which is, the votes and proceedings. The senate deliberated on the nomination of Magu for the position of EFCC Chairman with regard to security report available but referred the other nominees for screening since nothing much was found about them.
“This is the only official position of the senate. What I say, I say on behalf of the senate. Nigerians should be guided. There is no ambiguity in what we said.
“Senate is an institution and we are working with the Constitution and whatever rules we use, are drawn from the constitution. We also want the media to be guided in the matter because of some misleading news in the public domain.”
Adullahi said that “Even with respect to the indictment of the SGF, the Genesis was the motion raised by Kaka and Ndume and the Senate decided to take a look at the abuses and SGF was found to be part of the abuses.”
He however made it clear that the Senate considered the only security report submitted to it and took its decision pointing out that the Senate was not aware of any other report.
“Truth is sacrosanct. For every line of command there is a line of communication, for the records, the leader that I know is Saraki and administrative leader is the Clerk to the Senate.
“As a routine, when you have a nominee, security report should be given. The report we are talking about was sent to the Acting Clerk of the senate. If you talk about two reports which one is the second one? I heard a report was sent to Ita Enag (the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters) but I am not holding brief for him. He is a liaison officer and if there is any communication saraki or clerk are in charge.
“It will be unfortunate for anyone to say that senate will be subjected to a report sent to the liaison office. This does not undermine his office, he is one of the highest ranking officers. Let us not bring Ita Enang to a cross fire. It is the prerogative of the senate and it has exercised that prerogative,” Sabi submitted.
The Senate declared that should the President intend to re-nominate Magu, it must be based on due process of the law.
“We are all guided by processes, if Buhari is going to re-submit the communication for re-nomination he must come with the necessary reports, either negative or positive. The security report was signed. The senate can’t just get a document from anywhere and work with it. Even petitions are signed let alone a serious matter like this.
On the opening crack in the Senate, Sabi said: “The senate leader is the senate leader but I am the spokesman he can’t do my job and I cant do his job. He is my leader but we have different responsibilities. Occasioned by what he said, if people are making meaning from what he said I am here to clarify.
“Nigerians are looking forward to all of us to take them out of recession. The media should also be guided to create environment for leadership to avoid tension.”
Senate, last Wednesday, indicted the SGF, Lawal, over claims that he siphoned over N2 billion earmarked for IDPs.
A day after Lawal was indicted, the Senate rejected the nomination of Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC. It based its decision on a report from the DSS.