‘President Buhari’s insistence on Magu, mockery of democracy’
Divergent reactions have trailed the controversy surrounding President Muhamadu Buhari’s re-nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) for confirmation by the Senate and his rejection for the second time.
Prior to Senate’s rejection of Magu on Wednesday after about two hours grilling, the EFCC boss’ nomination had been turned down in December last year.
Following his rejection then, Buhari re-nominated him in January, explaining that he had been cleared of wrongdoing by the Attorney General of the Federation and minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami who investigated the allegations of the Department of State Services (DSS).
Wednesday’s second rejection of Magu was also based on a DSS letter dated March 14, 2017, which was similar to the first one that led to his earlier refusal, that indicted him of corruption and lack of integrity.
While, some Nigerians believed that Magu has been diligent in the fight against corruption, arguing that he was denied because corruption is fighting back, others question the integrity of Mr. President’s insistence on having him despite Senate’s refusal to confirm him.
Speaking with The Guardian yesterday, national chairman, African Democratic Congress (ADC), Mr. Ralph Nwosu, said the resolve of Mr. President to appoint Magu is beginning to generate the feeling that “there is a hidden motive.”
According to him, “The Senate, which represent the entire senatorial districts in the country said it rejected Magu based on the DSS recommendation that the man failed integrity test. In the first instance, the DSS is a department under the presidency and the President appointed its director general, Lawal Musa Daura. It is therefore curious why Mr. President wants to overlook the recommendation of the DSS, which the Senate is acting upon.”
Also, he said there are several millions of competent Nigerians with untainted integrity capable of heading the Commission, noting that the situation is making Nigeria a laughing stock.
Former national secretary, Labour Party (LP), Mr. Kayode Ajulo said it is clear that the Senate has no hand in the fate that befell Magu. “The institution simply acted on the recommendation of the DSS headed by another appointee of Mr. President. I think there is a contradiction and Nigerians have the right to begin to question the rationale behind Mr. Buhari’s insistence on using Magu in a situation where we have millions of competent people, even among the police … it amounts to mockery of our democracy.”
Describing the development as becoming embarrassing to the country, Niger Delta activist and Executive Secretary of the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) Mr. Tony Uranta flayed the presidency for insisting on Magu despite the Senate refusal to confirm him twice.
He said, “I have followed the insistence of Mr. President in trying to foist Magu on Nigeria as the chairman of the EFCC. I don’t have anything against Magu but my concern is there are institutions that are in place to run this nation among which we have the presidency, which has the right to appoint while and the Senate is vested with the constitutional role to confirm.
“In this case, the Senate has rejected Magu based on the recommendation of the DSS. If the DSS now says that Magu failed integrity text and the Senate based on that recommendation rejected him, what is the presidency up to by insisting it must be him.
Uranta said if Buhari no longer trust the judgment of the director general of the DSS, he should remove Daura. “If for any reason Buhari should continue to insist on Magu despite the Senate’s refusal to confirm him based on the DSS recommendation then he (Mr. President) has failed integrity test because the message he is passing to Nigerians is that he is interested in foisting cronies to serve, as against the passion to see the nation move forward. The entire scenario is becoming embarrassing.”
However, a group, the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has questioned the “constitutional validity of the nomination and confirmation processes leading to the rejection for the second time.”
In a statement yesterday, by its executive director, Adetokunbo Mumuni, the organization said: “the rejection of Magu on the pretext of conflicting and inconsistent reports on him by the government of Buhari, is a slap in the face of Nigerians who are victims of grand corruption.”
The group posited that the entire process for the submission of Magu’s name for confirmation by the Senate, and the purported confirmation hearing by the Senate is utterly unsatisfactory. “While it is true that the Senate has the right to either reject or accept the nomination of Magu, it has a constitutional duty to act reasonably, logically, and rationally. The Senate ought to have critically engaged with the two reports by the DSS and provided Magu with meaningful opportunity to be heard.”
According to Mumuni, “Rather than working together to promote and enhance the independence, integrity and effectiveness of the EFCC, both the presidency and the Senate would seem to have failed to pursue this legitimate governmental purpose and international requirement, and implicitly, constitutional measure.