President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday explained his renomination of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu for confirmation by the Senate.
Buhari noted that in undertaking the anti-graft campaign, his administration had been guided by the need for urgency, consolidation and improvement of the statutory framework for addressing corruption.
He said the need to take the benefits of institutional memory and present capacity in taking the campaign forward was also recognised.
Buhari said he had received adequate clarification in considering the matter relied upon by the Senate in arriving at its decision to reject Magu’s nomination.
The Senate, however, said Buhari’s letter failed to address the issues raised in the report of the Department of State Services (DSS), which weighed heavily against Magu.
Senate President Bukola Saraki read Buhari’s letter renominating Magu.
The upper chamber went into an executive session immediately it resumed plenary, to discuss Magu’s renomination and President Buhari’s rejection of the resolution of the Senate calling for the resignation of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir David Lawal, for alleged abuse of office.
After about one hour of a closed, session said to have been “heated”, Saraki announced the receipt of the letter.
A source told our reporter that the questions before the Senate during the closed session included whether the DSS report should be dismissed.
The Senate, he said, wanted to know whether the issues raised by the DSS are true of false.
“If the issues raised by the DSS in its report are true, why should the Senate discard and overlook them and go ahead to confirm Magu. What will be the implication on the fight against corruption?” he asked.
He noted that besides, the letter was dated January 17, and delivered to the Senate President’s house on January 22, by 10 pm. President Buhari left the country for the United Kingdom on vacation on January 19. What are the aides of the president up to? Why did they bypass the normal channel of communication and routed the letter directly to the Senate President?” he said.
The source noted that the fact that Magu’s nomination was in court was also raised.
Lawyer -rights activist Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa went to court to stop Magu from parading himself as Acting Chairman of EFCC.
Adegboruwa also asked the Senate not to entertain any further request for Magu’s confirmation.
The source noted that the rules of the Senate are clear – it should not entertain any matter in court.
He said some senators reasoned that “the matter is beyond re-nominating Magu for confirmation”. “It is obvious that President Buhari did not address some salient issues raised in the DSS report. Is it contempt for the DSS or contempt of the Senate that based its rejection of Magu on the DSS report.?
“These are issues the Senate should look into before arriving at any informed conclusion on the matter of the renomination of Magu. There is nothing personal whatsoever.”
President Buhari’s letter, entitled “Re-nomination of Ibrahim Magu Mustapha as the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”, reads:
“I write with reference to your letter no NASS /85/R/016 dated 15th December, 2016 where in you conveyed to me the resolution of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria reached on the same Thursday 15th December 2016 in respect of my earlier request for the confirmation and appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Magu Mustapha, the nominee, as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“I have taken due note of the contents of the aforesaid resolution as it concerns the nominee, particularly the conclusion of the Distinguished Senate not to confirm the nomination of Mr. Magu due to a security report on the nominee issued by the Department of State Services (DSS) and addressed to the Senate via a letter dated 3rd October 2016.
“Upon receipt of this said resolution I took administrative steps within the Executive arm of government to ensure the speedy clarification of issues relied upon by the Senate in arriving at its decision.
“This (sic) steps included a request for the response of the nominee to the allegations contained in the report out of desire to ensure that the credibility of our anti-corruption campaign is not compromised or call to question.
“As the Distinguished Senate you will recall the prosecution of the anti-corruption war in all aspects of our polity is a programme to which my administration has committed itself since our inauguration on May 29th, 2015.
“In undertaking this campaign, we have been guided by the need for urgency, consolidation and improvement of our present statutory framework for addressing the scourge of corruption in our country as well as taking the benefits of institutional memory and present capacity in taking the campaign forward.
“It is in the above context you will agree with me that there’s a need to maintain a current momentum and capacity of the EFCC since May 29th, 2015.
“It is in the above context that I therefore request the indulgence of this distinguished Senate to favourably accept my re-nomination of Ibrahim Magu Mustapha for the position of the EFCC having received adequate clarification considering the matter relied upon by the Senate in arriving at its decision.
“Mr President of the Senate, I make this request for a favourable reconsideration by this distinguished chamber against the background of the critical role of the Senate in driving the anti-corruption campaign of the present administration through a proactive legislative agenda and adequate appropriation support for the important work of the agency such as the EFCC.
“I use this opportunity to reassure the distinguished senators of my determination to continue to pursue synergy between the executive and the legislative arms in our common mission to bequeath a more prosperous and value driven country to the generation after us.
“Please accept the Distinguished Senate President the assurances of my highest consideration and esteem.”
The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public affairs, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, told reporters at a news conference that the Presidential letter failed to address the issues raised in the DSS reporter.
Abdullahi, however, said that the letter would be subjected to further legislative work.
The implication of reading the re-nomination letter is that the Senate will likely refer it to its committee on Anti-Corruption, Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal matters for consideration.
The Senate had on December 15, 2016 rejected Magu’s nomination as EFCC chairman, citing the damning report by the DSS against the nominee.
The Senate based its decision not to continue with Magu’s confirmation because of the DSS report to the Senate.
The report dated October 3, 2016, alleged that Magu is staying in an apartment that was paid for by an indicted member of the presidential committee that probed arms purchase during the administration of former President Goodluck Jonathan.
He was alleged to have paid N40 million to cover the cost of rent for two years.
The DSS report added that the retired air force chief furnished Magu’s apartment with N43 million.
The report added that he flew on first class flight to lesser hajj at a cost of N2.9 million.
The DSS report added that Magu was also “illegally” keeping case files of top politicians being investigated by the commission at his private residence.
His house in Abuja was allegedly searched and his property carted away by operatives during the tenure of Farida Waziri as the Chairman of the EFCC.
The report said Magu was suspended from the police and returned to the EFCC after his immediate predecessor, Ibrahim Lamorde, became the Chairman.
The report said: “The circumstances surrounding the return of Magu to the EFCC and the role played by Lamorde and their close relationship are clear indications of his culpability in the allegation of corruption tendencies of the Lamorde-led EFCC.”
The DSS also accused Magu of using only his police cronies to execute operations.
It said: “In this light, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.” (The Nation)