Why lobby failed in Senate
We await Senate’s decision –Presidency
From Fred Itua, Abuja
The Senate yesterday rejected the confirmation of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Senate spokesman, Abdullahi Sabi, who briefed newsmen on the matter, said Magu’s rejection was based on a ‘worrisome’ security report, made available to lawmakers by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Reacting, presidential aide, Mr. Femi Adesina, said: “Senate has said it will formally communicate its decision to the President. We await Senate’s decision.”
Three prominent Nigerians, Prof. Itsay Sagay, Mr. Femi Falana and Chief Mike Ozekhome, all Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) reacted to the development.
Senator Sabi said: “The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to inform the general public that based on security reports available to the lawmakers, we could not proceed and confirm the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the executive chairman of EFCC.
“Accordingly, the Senate hereby rejects the said nomination and has returned the said nomination to Mr. President for further action. There is no confusion here. We have said it is based on security reports.
“Please, all public officers go for security screening and we are saying based on security reports, we cannot proceed and confirm. We are rejecting it and returning it to Mr. President for further actions. That is just the statement. It is as simple as that. That is exactly what the Senate has said and I do not have any other explanation more than this,” he said.
However, names of other board members of EFCC have been forwarded to the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes for further action.
Daily Sun gathered that a status report from the DSS indicted Magu. It was learnt that Magu worked round the clock prior to his rejection to block the Senate from making the contents of the document public.
Lawmakers declined to make any official or unofficial comments. According to them, they were warned by the leadership of the Senate not to speak to newsmen on the issue.
One of the lawmakers who explained briefly, said the DSS report showed that Magu was allegedly involved in the disposal of seized assets from convicted corrupt public officials when the immediate-past chairman of EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, held sway.
The lawmaker said the report questioned the integrity of Magu to lead President Buhari’s anti-corruption war, judging by his alleged involvement in the disposal of seized assets.
He said the report indicated that the EFCC, under Magu’s watch, is involved in human rights abuses.
Earlier, two leading members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Senators Ali Ndume and Dino Melaye, were reportedly engaged in a war of words over the confirmation of Magu.
The two lawmakers disagreed sharply during a pre-sitting meeting held at the office of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki. It was learnt that while Ndume gave a nod to the confirmation of Magu, Melaye, however, kicked against it.
While some Senators rooted for an open screening of Magu during the meeting, others were opposed to it, saying the EFCC nominees should be referred to the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes for screening.
Magu, worried that his confirmation may hit the brickwalls allegedly pleaded with Senate Leader, Ndume to intensify lobby of lawmakers whom he thought could sway the pendulum in his favour.
Findings by Daily Sun revealed that Ndume reportedly spearheaded the failed lobbying of lawmakers, who were believed to have moved against Magu’s confirmation.
Ndume, reached out to one of the ranking principal officers of the Senate on behalf of Magu in a last minute attempt to mend fences with him.
President Muhammadu Buhari appointed Magu after removing Lamorde on November 9, 2015. But the Presidency in June this year, eight months after his appointment, wrote to the Senate, seeking the screening and confirmation of Magu as chairman of EFCC. The letter was read on the floor of the house in July, one week before lawmakers embarked on their annual vacation.
Before his appointment, Magu was the head of Economic Governance Unit of the EFCC. Magu, if confirmed, will be the fourth head of the anti-graft agency, after Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri and Mr. Lamorde. Like others, all the heads of the EFCC are from the North.
According to Nigerian laws, a public official is not expected to act in office for more than six months without confirmation of appointment. In the case of Magu, however, President Buhari did not forward his name to the Senate for confirmation eight months after he was appointed.
Meanwhile, the EFCC headquarters in Abuja wore a gloomy look yesterday over Magu’s rejection.
Magu, a foundation staff of the commission, was appointed Acting Chairman by President Mohammed Buhari.
But as one of the Abuja-based radio stations broke the news of the rejection activities took a low side.
Some staff who monitored the Senate session on local radio station through their handsets wore furlong faces as soon as the news of his non-confirmation broke.
The designated car park for the commission’s staff almost became empty as some staff left the premises.
When contacted, EFCC’s spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, did not pick his calls.
Magu’s confirmation not rejected –Falana
Femi Falana, the rights activists, said: “My attention has been drawn to the refusal of the Senate to conduct confirmation hearing in respect of the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. Since Mr. Magu was not allowed to justify his appointment before the plenary of the Senate it is misleading to say that his nomination has been rejected by the Senate.
“The announcement credited to the Bukola Saraki-led senate is that Mr. Magu’s confirmation could not be considered based on a security report. The purported security report was not presented on the floor of the Senate. To that extent, the refusal of the executive session of the Senate to circulate the report and allow the Senate to take a decision is an insult on the integrity of the entire Senate.
“Since the said report was prepared by the management of the Department of State Services (DSS) it is crystal clear that the refusal of the Senate to consider the nomination of Mr. Magu is a confirmation that the forces of corruption have decided to rubbish the anti corruption crusade of the Buhari administration. The President owes the nation a duty to flush out all the well-known corrupt elements in the government and their cronies without any further delay.”
Magu ‘ll be there, whether they like it or not – Sagay
Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, has said Ibrahim Magu’s appointment will be renewed whether he is confirmed or not.
In a wide-ranging interview published in the current edition of The Interview, Mr. Sagay said, “whether they like it or not, he (Magu) will be there. His chairmanship will keep on being renewed.
“Since Nuhu Ribadu left, we have not had a man with such sterling qualities as Ibrahim Magu and whether they like it or not, Magu will be there until he completes his term under the law.”
“The EFCC chairman has a four-year tenure. From the EFCC Act, non-confirmation does not impair his duties,” he said.
EFCC Act doesn’t recognise Acting Chair
Constitutional lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Ozekhome (SAN), said: “Firstly, Magu’s rejection by a Senate that has a preponderance of Senators from ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) government is a loud statement about the skewed, unfair and brazenly hypocritical manner that the so-called corruption war has been fought by his government. Secondly, that he could be rejected by the Senate after pendency of his confirmation before the Senate for over six months shows a strait-jacketed and non-communicative ruling party that can neither diplomatically win the confidence of its members, nor capable of reining or rail-roading them in to buy into its programmes and agenda.
“The EFCC Act only recognises a Chairman as provided for in Section 2(1)(a) of the EFCC Act, who shall be the Chief Executive of the agency. It does not recognise an acting Chairman, which is a mere conventional stop-gap remedy for a full fledged Chairman.An aggrieved party in a matter can challenge his acting capacity when the chips are down and when a shove becomes a push.
“All the government can do now is to keep him in this acting position, hoping to get him confirmed in the future after better spade work and more engagement of relevant stakeholders. That he must be confirmed by the Senate before his actions can be deemed valid is an inescapable constitutional and statutory imperative under section 2(3) of the EFCC Act which makes such a confirmation compulsory. The section provides that the chairman and the members of the commission other than ex-official members shall be appointed by the President and the appointment shall be subject to the confirmation of the Senate.”