Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari will not communicate to the Senate his latest position on the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, The PUNCH has learnt.
The Senate had, on March 15, 2017, requested the President to nominate a replacement for Magu following the rejection of his nomination by the legislature.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly said the rejection, which was based on security report by the Department of State Services, had ended Magu’s chairmanship of the EFCC in acting capacity.
But Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo had, last week, ruled out the possibility of replacing Magu, saying the President did not find the security report prepared by the DSS, which formed the basis for Magu’s rejection, a strong reason to replace Magu.
When asked when the latest government’s position would be sent to the Senate, a source in the Presidency told our correspondent on Tuesday that Buhari did not need to communicate his latest position to the Senate.
He said, “The Vice-President has made the government’s position on Magu’s matter clear.
“There is no need for the President to write the Senate again on the matter since he is no longer seeking the lawmakers’ confirmation.
“Have you not seen Magu carrying out his assignments without hindrance? That is to show you that the President does not need to write the senators again.”
Osinbajo had said he aligned himself with the argument of a lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), that Senate confirmation was not needed for the EFCC’s chairman appointment based on the provisions of Section 171 of the constitution.
He said, “No law says we can’t re-present him. And again, there is the other argument, whether or not we need to present him for confirmation and that’s a compelling argument from Femi Falana.
“His argument is that under the Constitution, Section 171, and if you look at that section, it talks about the appointments that the President can make. They include appointments of ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies such as the EFCC.
“In that same Section 171, the Constitution rightly says that certain appointments must go to the Senate such as ministerial and ambassadorial appointments. Those of heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the Senate.
“That’s what the constitution says. But the EFCC Act, which, of course, as you know, is inferior, says that EFCC chairman should go to the Senate for confirmation.
“I am sure that even a pocket-book lawyer knows that when legislation conflicts with Constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails. I agree with Mr. Falana that there is no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the Senate, but we did so and it was rejected by the Senate, but I believe that it can be re-presented.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong about the fact that Senate has rejected him. Senate has acted in its own wisdom to say ‘no, we don’t want him’, and we can say ‘this is our candidate… we like the gentleman and we want him to continue’.”
Section 171 of the Constitution that deals with presidential appointments read as follows:
(1) Power to appoint persons to hold or act in the offices to which this section applies and to remove persons so appointed from any such office shall vest in the President.
(2) The offices to which this section applies are, namely:
(a) Secretary to the Government of the Federation;
(b) Head of the Civil Service of the Federation;
(c) Ambassador, High Commissioner or other Principal Representative of Nigeria abroad;
(d) Permanent Secretary in any ministry or head of any extra-ministerial department of the government of the federation howsoever designated; and
(e) any office on the personal staff of the President.
(3) An appointment to the office of the Head of the Civil Service of the Federation shall not be made except from among Permanent Secretaries or equivalent rank in the civil service of the Federation or of a State. (Punchng.com)