Senate rejects Magu as EFCC chairman, cites security reports
Says DSS listed anti-graft chief’s crimes
The Senate yesterday rejected the Presidency’s nomination of Ibrahim Mustafa Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The rejection betrays the executive and legislative arms of government as working at cross-purposes. It also raises questions on the acceptability of President Muhammadu Buhari’s anti-corruption war using Magu as the arrowhead, especially as the ruling party failed to pull through the screening despite its majority in the Senate.
Magu took charge of the EFCC in acting capacity following the expiration of the tenure of his former boss, Ibrahim Lamorde, in November 2015. He had presided over the affairs of the commission for eight months before Vice President Yemi Osinbajo made the nomination to the Senate on July 22, 2016 when he (Osinbajo) was Acting President.
And since the Senate President Bukola Saraki read the nomination letter on the floor of the Upper Chamber, the request was kept in view for another five months until the Senate announced its readiness to screen him last week Thursday. It was later shifted till yesterday.
But before the screening could commence yesterday, the Senate, for about one and a half hours behind closed doors in the hallowed chamber, engaged in serious deliberations about the fate of Magu.
When he was called in towards the end of the closed-door session, Saraki simply announced that the Senate had rejected Magu’s nomination but quickly added that the remaining four nominees for the board of the commission had been referred to the committee on anti-corruption for screening. They are Adeleke Rafiu, Nda Sule Moses, Lawan Mamman and Galadanci Imam.
Briefing journalists shortly after the session, the Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Aliu Sabi Abdullahi said the rejection of Magu’s nomination was based on security reports available to the Senate.
“The Senate wishes to inform the general public that based on available security reports, it cannot proceed and confirm the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the executive chairman of EFCC.
“Accordingly, the Senate hereby rejects the said nomination and has returned the said nomination to Mr. President for further action,” he said.
Although no official information was given about the contents of the said security reports, it was later learnt that the Director General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Malam Lawal Daura had in October 2016 sent a report named “Status Report” to the Senate president detailing the alleged crimes of Magu.
A Senate source said “the report is terrifying as it contained series of corruption allegations involving ownership of property, violation of financial rules and regulations and colluding with corrupt people, including those who are well known.”
The report was also said to have drawn the attention of the Senate to the alleged irregularity in Magu’s nomination to the effect that it was signed by the then Acting President and not the President.
The report suggested that the anti-corruption war of the current administration could suffer credibility problem if the process of appointing the EFCC chairman was not properly carried out.
It was equally learnt that Magu’s rejection was not unconnected with the dirty war among members of President Buhari’s kitchen cabinet.
It was gathered that in the heated closed-door session, even APC senators were said to be divided on the matter while Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) senators were united in their decision to reject Magu because of what they described as the unfair manner in which the anti-corruption war is being executed under him.
The decision to rely on the security report, it was further learnt, was taken after the opposition to Magu’s confirmation.
A Kanuri from Borno State who attended the University of Maiduguri, Magu is a trained financial crimes investigator with a background in forensic accounting. He also trained at the FBI Institute and the London Metropolitan Police Institute.
Magu served as head of the EFCC’s Economic Governance Unit (EGU) during the tenure of Nuhu Ribadu.
He thereafter gained public attention when he led many high-profile investigations against former governors, including James Ibori of Delta State and the current Senate President as governor of Kwara State.
He also reportedly worked with Ribadu to jail his brother-in-law and former Bank of the North chief, Shettima Bulama who was later pardoned by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
Magu is a member of the investigative committee convened by the National Security Adviser (NSA), Babagana Monguno on the orders of President Buhari to probe the procurement of arms in the Armed Forces from 2007. He was one of the early recruits into the EFCC by Ribadu, the pioneer chairman of the commission.