IBRAHIM Magu will remain the boss at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Presidency has said.
Twice the Senate has refused to confirm Magu as the agency’s chairman, but the Presidency remains undeterred by the rejection.
It believes that:
the Presidency does not necessarily need to seek Magu’s confirmation – going by Section 171 of the 1979 Constitution; and
President Muhammadu Buhari is satisfied with Magu’s response to the report of the Department of State Services (DSS) on which the Senate based its action.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo stated the government’s position in an interview with some media houses.
According to The Cable, an online medium which was part of the interview, Osinbajo said President Buhari did not find the indictment by the DSS a strong reason to replace Magu.
The Vice President said the President felt the DSS report was “not meritorious” enough to withdraw Magu’s nomination.
Osinbajo said: “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 faulted the Senate for rejecting Magu based on DSS reports claiming that the decision was not in line with global standards. He said it is not only in Nigeria that lawmakers reject nominees based on reports.
He cited the nomination of the Attorney-General of the United States, Jeff Sessions who was retained by President Donald Trump despite negative reports.
He added: “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 racist, some of this and that, but he is in office today.”
The Vice President said in the light of Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution, the President can retain Magu as EFCC chairman without confirmation by the Senate.
He said the Constitution is much more superior to EFCC Act which recommends the confirmation of the nominee for EFCC chairman.
He insisted that the Presidency can represent Magu for confirmation or leave him to do his job.
He said: “It is up to the Senate to make their judgment, and it is up to us say what we want to do. If our candidate is rejected, we can represent him. No law says we can’t represent 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 represented.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong about the fact that the Senate has rejected him. The 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 Senate has twice rejected the nomination of Magu by Mr. President due to adverse reports from the Department of State Security (DSS). At the last rejection, the lawmakers specifically asked that Magu be sacked and not represented for the position.
For the second time, the Senate on March 15 rejected Magu following reports from the DSS.
It recommended that Magu be sacked and not re-presented for the position.
To make good its threats, the Senate on March 28 suspended the confirmation of 27 newly appointed Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) in protest against the continued stay of Magu as acting chairman of EFCC.