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We Will Not Replace Magu, Says Osinbajo |The Republican News

Magu

Ibrahim Magu

Olalekan Adetayo and Eniola AKinkuotu

Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has ruled out the possibility of President Muhammadu Buhari replacing the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, whose nomination has been rejected by the Senate twice.

He said the President did not find the security report prepared by the Department of State Services which is the basis of his rejection a strong reason to replace Magu.

According to a report by an online medium, The Cable, Osinbajo spoke with some journalists from select media houses and social media activists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

He said that despite being rejected twice, the government was still at liberty to renominate Magu.

He, however, said he aligned himself with the argument of a lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), that Senate confirmation was not needed for the EFCC chairman based on the provisions of Section 171 of the constitution.

He said. “It is up to the Senate to make their judgment (on Magu), and it is up to us say what we want to do. If our candidate is rejected, we can re-present him.

“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 said 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 a legislation conflicts with Constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails. I agree with Mr. Falana that there was 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.”

The Vice-President said Buhari could have interfered with the DSS report that indicted Magu if he wanted to.

Rather than doing so, he said the President decided to hear Magu’s account, after which he felt convinced to retain him.

“We should commend the President for not interfering with what the DSS said. The DSS came up with a report and the man who was accused refuted it.

“He explains and gives a reason. When that happened, the President looked at what Magu said and what the DSS wrote and he said ‘I am satisfied with what Magu said’.

“He then decided to retain Magu as the nominee for EFCC. I don’t see any reason why that should be contested.

“The President has not interfered with what the DSS said. If he wanted to interfere, he would have ordered the DSS to keep quiet. He didn’t do that, but he said ‘I don’t think the DSS report is meritorious enough to withdraw his nomination.’

“The President reserves the right to say, ‘this is who I want’. I’m fully in support of Magu as the EFCC chairman just as the President is,” Osinbajo said.

The Vice-President also said it was not only in Nigeria that lawmakers reject nominees based on reports.

He said despite the mounting opposition against the nomination of Attorney-General of the US, Jeff Sessions, is currently serving in the administration of President Donald Trump.

“You see the American example… There are various reports. People come up with all sorts of things. Look at Jeff Sessions (US attorney-general) for instance, there were many reports. Some accused him of being a racist, some of this and that, but he is in office today,” he said.   (Punchng.com)

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Petitions Flood Senate Over Auditor General Of The Federation Nominee |The Republican News

From Fred Itua, Abuja and Chinelo Obogo

As the Senate resumes plenary today, one thing that will confront it is series of petitions over alleged manipulation in the nomination of Mr. Anthony Mkpe Ayine as Auditor General of the Federation (AGF) by the Secretary to Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal.
Daily Sun gathered that the Senate had listed Ayine’s nomination on its Order Paper on December 15, 2016, for consideration, but skipped the item at the last minute. No reasons were given for the action.
In one of the petitions to the Senate by the Network Against Impunity (NAI), copies of which were circulated in Abuja, yesterday, the group said Ayine’s name was not one of the three candidates submitted to the SGF for consideration as AGF.
The petition, dated December 23, 2016, and signed by the National Coordinator of the NAI, Yakubu Adagba, alleged that the original list of shortlisted candidates was substituted by the SGF before the nomination got to the Senate.
“The original list of three shortlisted candidates forwarded to the SGF by the FCSC was jettisoned by the SGF who substituted the list and presented a different list of nominees to President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Therefore, Ayine’s confirmation request, pending before the Senate, is nothing but a cash-and-carry deal, packaged by the SGF and about to be rubber-stamped by the Senate,” he said.
Another non-governmental organisation, One-Nigeria-One-Nation Advocacy Initiative also opposed the nomination of Ayine as the AGF, saying it negates the federal character principle.
In a petition addressed to the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, and signed by the groups’ Coordinator, Omotunde Adewale, the group said the appointment of Ayine, who hails from Cross Rivers State, was made in total disregard to the Constitution, since the Head of Service of Nigeria (HoS), the Chief of Naval Staff and the Acting Chief Justice of Nigeria (CJN) “are all from the same state.”
“The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria requires that the principle of ‘federal character’ be applied in the distribution of federal government appointments across the 36 states of Nigeria,” the group insisted.   (The Sun)

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Confirmation Crisis: Magu Stopped From Seeing Buhari |The Republican News

Image result for Ibrahim Magu

EFCC Acting Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

 

Olusola Fabiyi, John Alechenu and Leke Baiyewu

The embattled acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has been unable to meet with President Muhammadu Buhari since the beginning of the crisis that engulfed the confirmation of his appointment.

Reliable sources told Sunday PUNCH on Saturday that Magu had made spirited efforts to see President Buhari in the aftermath of the Senate’s refusal to confirm his appointment. The Senate, on Thursday, had based its decision on a security report by the Department of State Service which accused Magu  of abuse of office and corruption.

The report by the DSS says Magu’s antecedents and his conduct after his appointment as the anti-corruption czar, made him ineligible to hold the office in full capacity.

The DSS report concludes, “Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”

SUNDAY PUNCH gathered that the embattled EFCC chairman, who is said to be at loggerheads with some members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet, tried to see the President on Saturday night but his efforts were futile.

Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, handles the President’s appointments and determines, in most cases, who gets to see him.

There have been reports that Magu is involved in a power struggle with the Director General of the DSS, Mr. Lawal Daura, and some top aides of the President, who are said to be against his confirmation. The acting EFCC chairman is said to be an ally of the National Security Adviser, Gen. Babagana Monguno.

Read also: DSS Integrity Test Prompted Senate To Reject EFCC Boss, Magu |The Republican News

Magu was conspicuously absent at the Saturday’s wedding of the President’s daughter, Zahra, to Ahmed Indimi. However, other heads of security agencies including the former chairman of the EFCC, Nuhu Ribadu, were present at the lunch which held inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa.

Multiple sources in the presidency confirmed to our correspondent on Saturday that Magu was sighted in the Presidential Villa around 6.30pm on Friday.

While he failed to see the President, Magu attended the Asset Recovery team meeting which holds weekly at the Presidency. The meeting had Vice President Yemi Osinbajo ; the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami;  the Minister of Information, Mr. Lai Mohammed, and others, in attendance.

SUNDAY PUNCH learnt that Magu has written a letter stating his side of the story over the allegations levelled against him by the DSS. A source, who said the letter would be delivered to the President during the week, added that Magu defended himself and also detailed his running battles with some of the president’s closest aides.

Magu, it was gathered, had wanted to issue a statement through the agency to respond to the DSS allegations, but later had a change of mind.

Meanwhile, this newspaper gathered that the confirmation crisis had polarised the President’s cabinet.

A source in government told one of our correspondents that some ministers who are in support of Magu visited the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, before the Senate session on Thursday. The source said the ministers tried to prevail on Saraki to ensure that Magu was confirmed. Saraki was said to have told them that he did not have the sole power to confirm the EFCC’s acting chairman.

Some ministers who are however staunchly against Magu reportedly reached out to the senate president and urged him not to make the mistake of ensuring Magu’s confirmation or it could come back to haunt him.

He can only be reconsidered if DSS clears him — Senators

Meanwhile, the Chairman, Senate Committee on Ethics Privileges and Public Petitions, Senator Samuel Anyanwu, has said that the senate may review its decision on the acting chairman if he clears himself of the allegation contained in the security report on him.

Anyanwu, who spoke on Saturday, said, “The presidency has the right to present him for screening again if it is satisfied that the allegations against him in the report are baseless. The senate will do its constitutional duty by adequately investigating petitions against any nominee so that a wrong person will not be appointed.

“Mr. Magu should clear himself of the allegations leveled against him otherwise senate will refuse to screen him if Mr. President should forward his name again,” he said.

Asked if the senate would reconsider the nomination of Magu if Buhari re-presented him, Senator, Sunday Ogbuoji (Ebonyi South), said it was up to the executive.

He said, “The business of the legislature is to screen and confirm nominees but before we do that, we first of all do background checks and these background checks are carried out by institutions authorised by our constitution which in this case, is the Department of State Services.

Read also: Senate Gives Condition For Magu’s Reconsideration |The Republican News

“The DSS gave us a report upon which we based our decision. If he (Ibrahim Magu) is re-presented, it means they have sorted out their issues at the executive level and a report will so say.”

The lawmaker representing Oyo South Senatorial District, Senator Adesoji Akanbi, said the implication of the rejection of Magu by the legislature was that he would cease to be the acting chairman of the EFCC.

Akanbi said, “For how long is he going to act? His name was nominated and had been rejected. And the reason for the rejection is not biased; it was based on the information made available to the Senate.”

“It is not over yet. The President can re-present him. By then, he would have filed his defence and communicated it to the senate. The President can re-present Magu to the senate even as much as four times if he chooses to. But before he can do that, the clog in the wheel of Magu’s nomination and legislative approval must have been addressed.”

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, while speaking to our correspondent on Saturday, said the upper chamber of the National Assembly, being the lawmaking arm of the government, would not be responsible for the interpretation of the law.

Abdullahi said, “By our democratic arrangement and structure, whatever we do and whatever the executive does are subject to interpretation by judiciary. If anybody is aggrieved with it, we have done our own part and I can only comment on what we do in our work and how we do it.”

Speaking on the same matter on Friday, lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, had called for the replacement of the embattled acting chairman.

According to the lawyer, the issues raised in the DSS report cannot be overlooked. The legal expert noted that with the various allegations against the EFCC acting boss, it would not be proper for him to continue to head the agency.

He said, “We cannot have such weighty allegations of corrupt enrichment hanging over a man who is to investigate and prosecute others.

“Prior to Mr. Magu’s appointment, a serious allegation of corruption was made against his predecessor in office, but we have never heard of any effort made by the EFCC since Magu took over, on that case.” (Punchng.com)

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Kickback: SGF’s Company Allegedly Recieved N200m In 20 Instalments |The Republican News

Onyedi Ojiabor

The controversy trailing the alleged mis-management of funds meant for the care of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the Boko Haram North East camp continued yesterday with the release of damning reports.

The Senate claimed in a report that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. David Babachir Lawal, abused his oath of office by allegedly awarding contracts worth millions of Naira to a company in which he has interest.

Lawal on his part dismissed the Senate report and resolution as nonsense claiming that nothing of the sort alleged by the upper chamber happened.

But Cable.com an Online newspaper yesterday said that Rholavision Engineering Ltd, a company owned by Babachir Lawal, allegedly received “N200m kickback from a contract he awarded for the clearing of “invasive plant species” in Yobe State.

According to the report, “Rholavision bank statements and other documents showed that Josmon Technologies Ltd, a company, which got the contract from Lawal’s Presidential Initiative on Northeast (PINE) to clear grass for N248, 939, 231, made cash deposits of N10 million into Lawal’s company’s account 20 times from March 29.”

It said that “Lawal awarded the contract to Josmon Technologies on March 8 while the company made the cash deposits until September when he resigned from Rholavision.”

The SGF while reacting to a call for his resignation by the Senate on Wednesday claimed that he resigned from his company on August 15, 2015, and as a result was not a party to whatever business it contracted.

It said that “a document from the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC) showed that Lawal was a director of Rholavision until September 16, 2016 when he wrote to the commission informing it of his intention to relinquish 1, 500, 000 ordinary shares.”

Reports had it that PINE, which is under SGF could not account for over N2.5 billion allocated to it for the alleviation of the suffering of IDPs in the Northeast.

The Senate had on Tuesday resolved to ask the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), David Babachir Lawal, to immediately resign his position so as to face prosecution over alleged abuse of office, contract inflation and misappropriation of Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) funds.

The funds, the Senate said, ran into billions of Naira.

The upper chamber also asked its ad-hoc committee Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East to dig into alleged misappropriation of over N127 billion said to have been part of the donation for the care of IDPs.

This followed the consideration of the interim report of the ad-hoc committee presented by its Chairman, Senator Shehu Sani.

Other resolutions adopted by the damning report included that “The Federal government and States in the North East should as a matter of urgency ensure that food items are adequately and promptly provided to displaced persons in order to address the prevailing mal-nutrition observed amongst them;

“Serious efforts should be put by both federal and state governments of the North East to provide conducive learning atmosphere for the children of the lDPs.

“The Federal Ministry of Health should be compelled to immediately deploy their personnel to all the IDPs to support the efforts of the International Humanitarian Crisis Managers and the Nigerian Air Force medical team in providing the necessary medical assistance so as to avert possible outbreak of communicable diseases like cholera, measles, and diarrhoea etc.

“Federal and state government should intensify efforts towards reconstruction of destroyed infrastructure, rehabilitation and empowerment of the IDPs so that they can go back to their respective homes.

“The newly constituted Presidential Committee on the North East Initiative (PCNI) should ensure that there is synergy and proper coordination among all humanitarian crisis agencies if the IDPs are to gain maximally from the entire exercise.

“Any public officer culpable of contravening any of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 and the federal government Financial Rules and Regulations pertaining to the award of these contracts should be duly suspended and prosecuted by the relevant authorities.”

While the recommendation that the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP) should undertake a revaluation ‘of all contracts awarded by PINE under the emergency situation arrangement to recover any proceeds from over-inflated contracts” was not carried, the lawmakers stepped down the recommendation that “Contracts partially executed but fully paid for must be completed by the concerned contractors, or asked to refund the equivalent money of outstanding jobs to the government treasury” until the submission of the full report.

Read also: Senate Hearing: N2.5bn Missing From Presidential Initiative For Rebuilding North East |The Republican News

Senator Sani noted in the interim report that sequel to the mandate given to the Ad-Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East, Committee visited some of the IDPs camps in the North East and conducted a three-day Public Hearing after which it made its findings/observations.

On Humanitarian Crisis Management in IDPs: the committee said that “It is absolutely true, that there is serious humanitarian crisis in the North East as evidenced by the plight of the internally displaced persons both in camps and within the host communities. There is hunger, disease, squalor, deprivation and want amongst the IDPs.

On World Food Programme, the committee said: International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF); Doctors Without Borders, Dangote Group, were found in the camps.

It noted that, “there was vivid absence of the Federal Ministry of Health in all camps visited, however, while the few critical government agencies like National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) as well as States Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) were noticed, but without synergy with other agencies. However, the Nigerian Air force medical team was found rendering medical services to the IDPs with the little equipment at their disposal.

“That despite the claim by some federal government agencies to the effect that huge sum of money is being spent on IDPs in the North East, what is on the ground as seen by the Committee does not justify/reflect the claims. For example:

“Over 70% of displaced children both in camps and with host communities were out of schools due to lack of classroom infrastructure, inadequate teaching materials and even teachers. They were also seen loitering in the camps mal-nourished, sickly, and poorly dressed;

“Generally, there is acute shortage of food amongst the IDPs, as observed in one of the IDPs visited, three bags of rice of 50kg each, a bag of beans of 50kg and a 4 liter of palm oil were given to 30 people for 15 days. These were considered too insufficient as confirmed by many IDPs that interacted with the Committee.”

On Contracts Award, the committee said, “The Committee discovered that all contracts from the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE) were awarded under the principle of emergency situation as stipulated in Section 43 (i) & (ii) but with absolute disregard to Subsection (iii) & (iv) of the same Section 43 of the Public Procurement Act, 2007 which states that:

“All procurements made under emergencies shall be handled with explanation but along principles of accountability, due consideration being given to the gravity of each emergency.

“Immediately after the cessation of the situation warranting any emergency procurement, the procuring entity shall file a detailed report thereof with the bureau which shall verify same and appropriate issue a Certificate of ‘No Objection’.

Senator Baba Kaka Garbai (Borno Central) said that there was no doubt that the actions of the SGF is against his oath of office.

“The SGF should resign and be prosecuted for acting against his oath of office,” he said.

Senate Leader, Senator Mohammed Ali Ndume, specifically drew the attention of the Senate to alleged misappropriation of about $417 million (N127billion) from donor agencies.

On Wednesday, Lawal fired back by describing the Senate as “talking balderdash.”

Lawal said:  “The Senate is talking balderdash; it has developed the habit of bring him down syndrome. Nigerians have decided that we should destroy our best; we should all destroy the promising and best among us by bringing people down without a cause. This is just how I saw it.

“I have the report of the Senate Committee in which it was said that I didn’t resign from Rholavision Nigeria Limited. Let me tell you, Rholavision was formed by me in December 1990, and it has been a company that was run very successfully.

“Now, when I was appointed Secretary to the Government of the Federation, I resigned from that company on 18th August 2015. I can see that in their report, they are talking about 2016. I don’t know where they got their facts.

“By the way, it is very instructive that when the committee was sitting, no effort was ever made to invite me to come and make a submission. It is therefore, surprising that they devoted a whole session of today (yesterday) at maligning me, claiming what is not true without even giving me the chance to come and put my own case before them.”               (The Nation)

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Senate Gives Condition For Magu’s Reconsideration |The Republican News

                                                Acting Chairman, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu

 

Olalekan Adetayo and Leke Baiyewu

The Senate has said it may reconsider its refusal to confirm the appointment of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, if President Muhammadu Buhari provides the necessary explanation for it to do so.

It said the explanations to be made by President Muhammadu Buhari, who had nominated Magu, would determine whether the nominee would be considered or not.

The lawmakers had on Thursday rejected Magu’s nomination by the President as the substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency  based on a “security report” on him.

A security report by the Department of State Services, in which Magu was accused of various corruption-related offences, had caused the Senate to reject his nomination.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, on Friday told one of our correspondents that the lawmakers had taken their decision on the matter and it was left for Buhari to take the next step.

He said, “This is not an issue that is ambiguous and I will not take issue with anybody. What we have said is very straightforward and unambiguous. It is not our responsibility or in our power to tell Mr. President what to do.

“It is his prerogative and for every action taken, there must be a basis. Let him take any action but, of course, he will base his action on explanations. If that happens, we will take his explanations based on their face value and see. Until then, our decision is very simple. It is unambiguous; that is what we said from the beginning and that is what we stand by.”

Meanwhile, the Senate on Friday said the rejection of Magu would be communicated to the Presidency by next week.

Read also:DSS Integrity Test Prompted Senate To Reject EFCC Boss, Magu |The Republican News

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, in a separate interview with one of our correspondents, said the communication would undergo legislative process before getting to the President.

He said, “Allow us to do our job. This thing (rejection) just happened yesterday (Thursday). There is a procedure for the communication. We took the decision yesterday. Is the letter not going to be written? Is that the only issue that they (Presidency) have to deal with?

“This thing happened yesterday and who should do the communication? Is it not the clerk? Between yesterday and today, are there not so many things to be done? Is that the only thing we have ahead of us?

“We have taken our decision and the procedure for communicating it is there. Allow it to happen. Wait till next week and see whether it will be communicated (to the Presidency) or not.”

Buhari waiting for Senate’s communication

The Presidency on Friday said Buhari would wait for the Senate to formally communicate its position on Magu’s case before taking a decision on the matter.

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said this in an interview with one of our correspondents.

Adesina said until the President receives the formal notification, no decision would be taken on the matter.

The presidential spokesman said, “You will recall that what the Senate said was that it will communicate the lawmakers’ position on Magu’s nomination to the President.

“President Buhari is still waiting for that communication. When he receives it, he will decide on the next line of action.”

Resolutions: Upper chamber inaugurates committee on compliance

In a related development, barely 48 hours after calling on the President to immediately sack the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, over his alleged involvement in a contract scam, the Senate has set in motion a machinery to ensure strict compliance by the Presidency to all resolutions reached by the National Assembly.

The decision to ensure compliance on the path of the executive arm of government led to the constitution of the Senate Committee on Legislative Compliance, which was inaugurated on Thursday evening.

President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, while delivering his inaugural speech, said the inauguration of the committee was to ensure that “the resolutions of the upper chamber of the National Assembly are not abused” by the executive arm of government.

According to Saraki, one of the responsibilities of the committee is to “ensure that some of the laws passed by the National Assembly are strictly adhered to” by the relevant ministries, departments and agencies of government.

The Chairman, Senator Babajide Omoworare, in his remarks, said the Senate Committee on Legislative Compliance was constituted in accordance with the provisions of Section 62(1) of the 1999 Constitution as amended, and in compliance with Chapter XIII of the Senate Standing Order. (Punchng.com)

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