Magu: Is Senate patriotic or playing politics?

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Nigerian Senate’s function, according to Chapter 6, Part 1, Section 147 of the Nigerian 1999 constitution include power to confirm the nomination of the President for the headship of certain government agencies, among which was the chairmanship of the anti-graft agency, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission. But with this responsibility and others, the Senate is expected to deliver on this mandate, without any preferential treatment or insinuation to politicking.

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The 8th Senate of the National Assembly led by Bukola Saraki, last Thursday, declined to confirm the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the country’s premier anti-graft agency, the EFCC.

The upper legislative chamber claimed it could not approve the Presidency’s request to confirm Magu, who has been nominated as chairman of the EFCC by President Muhammadu Buhari, based on a security report forwarded to it by the Department of State Security.

What they are doing is glaring to all Nigerians. They are scared of what may become of them in 2017, because there have been several calls that EFCC should shift attention to the lawmakers, as it did to the judiciary recently

The development has since generated mixed reactions from different segments of the populace. While many hailed the Senate for its decision, others have vilified the upper legislative chamber, especially, political observers, who believed that the Senate’s reason for Magu’s rejection was none other than political.

According to them, the Senate was playing politics with a very serious and sensitive issue that has direct impact on the well-being of Nigerians. Recall that Magu, since he took over the reins of leadership in the EFCC from his former boss, Ibrahim Lamorde, has helped President Buhari execute his anti-graft war at all level of governance. Meanwhile, The Point gathered from a competent source close to the lawmakers that the move by the Senate was the senators’ tactics of preventing Magu from prosecuting corrupt lawmakers in the 8th Senate and their disciples. “What they are doing is glaring to all Nigerians.

They are scared of what may become of them in 2017, because there have been several calls that EFCC should shift attention to the lawmakers, as it did to the judiciary recently,” the source told The Point.

Saraki, others’ second time coming at Magu

Further findings by The Point have also shown that the rejection of Magu as the chairman of EFCC by the Senate may be the second coming of some political bigwigs in the Senate, amongst who are Bukola Saraki and others, against Magu. Saraki and some senators were governors when Nuhu Ribadu and Magu were booted out of the commission unceremoniously some eight years ago.

The Point gathered that Saraki and a former governor of Delta State, James Ibori, were among political gladiators, who put pressure on the late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, in 2008, to unceremoniously remove Ribadu as EFCC chairman. After Ribadu’s departure, his successor, Mrs. Farida Waziri, frustrated some of his closest and most resourceful aides in the commission, amongst who was Magu.

It was gathered that Magu, who was then a chief superintendent of police, was sent away from the EFCC and his Lagos and Abuja homes were raided by operatives, even before he had the opportunity to hand over to Umar Sanda, as head of EFCC’s Economic Governance Unit.

The many sins of Magu, according to the Senate

The Senate hinged its rejection of Magu’s nomination on what it called ‘security report’ from the DSS, which allegedly indicted the acting chairman of the EFCC.

The said DSS security report had given a clean bill of health to four other nominees into the anti-graft agency’s board: Nasule Moses, Lawan Maman, Garandaji Imam Naji and Adeleke Adebayo Rafiu. Magu was accused of having links to a ‘questionable businessman’, who has been arrested by the DSS, and a bank Managing Director, who is being investigated by the EFCC. The report also revealed that in August, 2008 during the tenure of Waziri as EFCC chairman, some sensitive documents, which were not supposed to be at the disposal of Magu were discovered in his house.

He was subsequently redeployed to the police after days of detention and later suspended from the police force. In December 2010, the Police Service Commission found Magu guilty of “action prejudicial to state security – withholding of EFCC files, sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a police officer,” and awarded him severe reprimand as punishment.

Notwithstanding, sequel to the appointment of Ibrahim Lamorde as EFCC chairman, he made the return of Magu to the EFCC a top priority. Magu remained a top official of the commission until he was nominated by Buhari to succeed Lamorde. The report also alleged that Magu is currently occupying a N20 million per annum residence.

However, The Point gathered that the apartment was allegedly not paid for by EFCC, but by one Umar Mohammed, a retired air commodore, a questionable businessman, who has subsequently been arrested by the secret service. For the furnishing of the residence, Magu allegedly enlisted the Federal Capital Development Authority to award a contract to Africa Energy, a company owned by the same Mohammed, at the cost of N43 million.

The report also revealed that Magu regularly embarked on official and private trips through a private jet owned by Mohammed. In one of such trips, Magu allegedly flew to Maiduguri alongside Mohammed with the bank MD, who was under EFCC investigations over complicity in funds allegedly stolen by the immediate past petroleum minister, Diezani Alison-Madueke. Furthermore, according to the DSS report, the EFCC boss has so far maintained a high-profile lifestyle, exemplified by his preference for first-class air travels.

It said on June 24, Magu flew Emirate Airlines first-class to Saudi Arabia to perform the lesser hajj, at the cost of N2.9 million, in spite of President Buhari’s directive that all public servants fly economy class. The DSS said that Magu has fostered a beneficial relationship with Mohammed, who by his confession, approaches clients for possible exploitation, favours and associated returns

“CBN"

Magu remains head of EFCC 

Lawyers As the rejection of Magu as EFCC head continues to attract mixed reactions, some legal practitioners have, however, insisted that he remains the head of the EFCC, until he is removed from office by President Buhari.

According to them, the Senate’s move against Magu, which they described as a pay-back for his few contributions to President Buhari’s anti-graft war, was a total war against democracy in Nigeria. They added that the Senate did not clarify what the security report contained, amidst allegations that the anti-graft chief was being victimised by the senators, some of who are either being prosecuted or investigated for corruption, or will soon be investigated for corrupt practices.

A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Akinolu Kehinde, said, “He’s still in (office in) acting capacity. “However, the law does not say that any appointment from the Presidency must be approved, there are parameters to be met and the Senate must have a tangible reason for rejecting him.”

It is sad that people will go to that extent of rejecting what is good for the country for their selfish reasons, because they think it is not convenient for them

Meanwhile, the former head of Nigeria’s Human Rights Commission, Chidi Odinkalu, said, “My suspicion is even preceding that the President needs to win allies for his idea of fighting corruption, articulate a clear strategy and persuade the country along. Democracy abhors supermen.”

Another lawyer, Nzube Akunne, stated that “if such situation arises, the President may have to re-submit the name to the Senate for confirmation; and by the time the President presents it three times and it was rejected, he can go ahead and appoint him.” “It’s the President that appoints, it’s his prerogative power. Confirmation is just a procedural issue. By law, he still remains the acting chairman till the President makes his next move,” Akunne said.

Magu’ll still head EFCC without Senate approval – Sagay

Meanwhile, the chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay, said Senate’s non-confirmation of Magu as substantial chairman of EFCC does not hinder his productivities in office. He said, “The Senate doesn’t appoint a chairman of the EFCC; what it does is to confirm an appointment.

If it doesn’t confirm, then, he will remain acting, he doesn’t become substantive, but the powers of acting or substantive chairman are the same; it is just a difference in nomenclature. “So, any act of bad faith to slow down the anti-corruption war is misplaced and it won’t work.

It is sad that people will go to that extent of rejecting what is good for the country for their selfish reasons, because they think it is not convenient for them. So this is preference for self-preservation at the expense of the nation and the people of the country.”

But, another lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, told The Point that the Senate’s rejection of Magu as EFCC chairman means he can no longer function in the commission, even as acting chairman, adding that added that the decision of the Senate was delicate at this time. “The issues raised in the report of the DSS in relation to Magu cannot be overlooked, as in similar or less weighty circumstances.

The EFCC, under Magu, has preferred criminal charges against such suspects, followed with media blitz,” he said. He also reacted to opinions suggesting that Magu would remain in acting capacity, despite his rejection by the Senate, saying: “Once the President has presented a candidate to the Senate for confirmation and the candidate has been rejected, such a candidate cannot function in office in acting capacity again, as that would give the impression that Magu was picked for a hatchet job. “Also, the EFCC is too sensitive to be headed by a rejected candidate. It would mean simply that its operations have become illegal, after December 14.”