• Ndume doesn’t speak for senators –Sabi, spokesman
From Fred Itua, Abuja
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), the Senate has reacted, insisting that Magu remains rejected as substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency.
Senate also dissociated itself from Ndume’s claim that the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal was not indicted over allegations that he siphoned over N2 billion meant for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the North-East.
Addressing a press conference, yesterday, spokesman of the upper legislative chamber, Abdullahi Sabi insisted that the Senate rejected the nomination of Magu and returned same to President Muhammadu Buhari.
Abdullahi said Ndume, who serves as the Senate Majority Leader, “can not speak” for the Red Chamber.
Ndume had maintained that although Lawal was recommended for sack over 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 clarifications from President Buhari, following a report from the Department of State Services (DSS).
The Senate Majority Leader had said: “It’s not an order. 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.
“The public want to know what we have done about those allegations. The committee issued an interim report which 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.
“The SGF said 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 duty is crucial; so, I am here based on series of calls and text messages from you about what you thought were conflicting messages. It has 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 stabilise the polity in the collective interest of Nigerians.
“Let me make the following clarifications; we had two votes and proceedings on Thursday 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 in view of security reports we were unable to confirm Magu. We then rejected and returned the nomination to Buhari for further action,” the senate spokesman insisted.
Sabi said, “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 my duties with honour and integrity because the sanctity of the institution is crucial to the sustenance of democracy.”
The senate spokesman said the Red Chamber deliberated on the nomination of Magu for the position of EFCC Chairman with regard to security report available, and referred the other nominees for screening.
“That’s the official position 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. We also want the media to be guided in the matter because of some misleading news in the public domain.”
Adullahi said the Genesis of indictment of the SGF was the motion raised by Kaka and Ndume, and the Senate looked into the abuses and “the SGF was found to be part of the abuses.”
He, however, made it clear the Senate considered the only security report submitted to it before taking its decision. Truth is sacrosanct; for every line of command, there is a line of communication. For the records, the leader I know is Saraki while the administrative leader is the Clerk to the Senate.
“As 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 is the second one? I heard a report was sent to Ita Enang (the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters), but I’m 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 because 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 wish to re-nominate Magu, it must be based on due process of the law.
“We are guided by due process; 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 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 can’t do his job. He is my leader, but we have different responsibilities. 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.