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Magu: Senators insist on his replacement

By Azimazi Momoh Jimoh and Terhemba Daka, Abuja
19 March 2017   |   4:30 am
Senate’s second time rejection of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, may endanger improved relations between the Presidency and the National Assembly.

• Presidency Sold On Magu
• Senate Order 131 Forbids Re-presentation
• Misunderstanding In Senate Over Letter To Buhari

Senate’s second time rejection of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, may endanger improved relations between the Presidency and the National Assembly.

This is because of the decision of some in the Presidency to stick to Magu as the substantive head of the anti-graft agency, while it is a closed matter for Senators.There were conflicting reports yesterday, as to whether the presidency has been communicated of the Senate’s decision on Magu’s lack of integrity to head EFCC.

A source close to the Senate President hinted that the letter conveying the Senate’s resolution had been given to the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate), Senator Solomon Ita Enang, to be delivered to the President since last Thursday.

“What I know is that we adopted the votes and proceedings of Wednesday sitting on Thursday; and I know that that was the last thing to do about the rejection of Magu. I also know that the Votes and Proceedings, which contain our decision on Magu had been sent. Some people are just spreading falsehood to cause confusion,” a lawmaker declared.

Another Senate source said that the delay by the Senate to communicate its decision was caused by the official trip of the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, to Morrocco.

Enang did not pick his calls when attempts were made to get him to clarify the issue. He has been very evasive all through the weekend.But presidency sources said the letter was yet to be forwarded to the President to enable him take a stand on the future of Magu in the anti-graft agency.

Special Adviser to the President on Media Affairs, Femi Adesina, said last week on a national television that the President awaits that communication before taking a decision to either replace Magu or re-nominate him.

Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said the Senate was yet to communicate to the Presidency on what transpired on the floor of the chamber in writing.

“I am not aware of any letter. We’ll wait until we see it,” he said, while responding to enquiries by The Guardian.But feelers from quarters that do not want to be named indicate that President Buhari will likely return Magu’s name to the Senate.

On why the Presidency is insisting on Magu, the source said such enquiries should be taken elsewhere.Meanwhile, Senators opposed to Magu’s nomination have intensified efforts to get a replacement for him.

Although Senate President Abubakar Bukola Saraki, had overruled a motion intended to ask President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately nominate another person for confirmation as the substantive Chairman of the EFCC shortly after Magu’s nomination was rejected last Wednesday, he is at the moment under pressure to write a letter to the President to stress the need for Magu’s replacement.

The group of Senators pushing for the immediate sack of the EFCC acting chairman cut across the two political parties in the Upper Chamber and are relying on the advantage of their simple majority to push their demand through.

A major grouse of this group of Senators is that Magu is being teleguided by some powerful political forces in carrying out the operations of the anti-graft commission.
A lawmaker told The Guardian in confidence that though Saraki had persuaded the Senate not to pass a fresh resolution to urge President Buhari to replace Magu immediately, “it is still our strong view that the President should be told that the best interest of the anti-corruption crusade would not be served if Magu continues to act as EFCC chairman.”

Another Senator in the group told The Guardian that the main reason why the President needed to replace Magu is his competence, which was put to task during the screening and the perception of many senators was that “he may be a good operational person, definitely not good enough to head a sensitive and strategic agency like EFCC.”

The Senator continued:”During the screening, he did not show the ability to articulate his position nor defend himelf. One was surprised that he could not state how much had been recovered so far; it was obvious he lost a lot of support of senators who could not understand how he was unable to defend or answer questions on the operations of the agency.

“The major issue that worked against Magu during the screening was that despite the opportunity to defend himself against those allegations leveled against him by the DSS, he was talking of having submitted a defence in writing to the President. Now, to talk through the submission, he could not.”Meanwhile, quoting Order 131 of the Senate Rules, Senator Dino Melaye said after the Upper Chamber has rejected the nomination of Magu, he cannot be represented again by the President.

Order 131 of the Senate Rules states that “nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session or within 21 working days in the case of Ministerial nominees shall be returned by the clerk to the National Assembly to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and shall not again be made to the Senate by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”