Rejection of Mr Magu: Matters arising

By Muyiwa Olayinka

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Mr Ibrahim Magu

President Buhari has not left anyone in doubt about his zeal to fight corruption. He’s not alone because Nigerians unanimously agreed that corruption is a scourge, they supported the President in this fight.

Corruption has been the bane of Nigeria’s under development in all spheres of life. For Mr President to achieve this, all hands must be on deck to win.

There are numerous agencies of government such as the Nigerian Police, EFCC ( Economic Financial Crimes Commission), ICPC ( Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission.), DSS (Directorate of State security) and so on, to take on crimes and corruption.

EFCC has been effective in fighting economic and financial crimes since its creation. It has recorded many convictions and many untouchables have been brought to justice.

In Nigeria, the fear of EFCC is the beginning of wisdom. The pioneer Chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu brought panache and credibility to the agency.

It is no longer news that every Nigerian is more than ever interested in who heads this agency.

President Buhari appointed Ibrahim Magu in acting capacity in November 2015. Mr. Magu, an Assistant Commissioner of Police, is a member of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption and was a former Head of the Economic Governance Unit (EGU) of the anti-graft agency.

Ibrahim Magu took over from Ibrahim Lamorde, a former director of operations who was the head of the agency for four years, i.e. 2011 to 2015.

Constitutionally, the President appoints the Chairman but shall be confirmed by the Senate before the nominee is made the substantive Chairman.

It has been a herculean task for Mr Magu to be cleared by the Senate. Twice his name had been sent and twice  had been rejected by the senate.

The rejection was based on the security report by the DSS indicting Magu.

In the October 2016 letter, the DSS said Mr. Magu was involved in controversial matters including living in a house allegedly paid for by a man being prosecuted for corruption. It advised that Mr. Magu not be confirmed.

Based on the conclusion of the secret police, senators threw out Mr. Magu’s nomination.

But in another letter in January 2017, Mr. Buhari requested that the Senate reconsider its position and clear Mr. Magu as substantial chairman, saying the allegations against him were false and baseless.

On Wednesday 15th of March, after answering series of questions posed to him, the senate stood down his confirmation, the second time.

The senators hinged their decision on a security report authored by the Directorate of Security Service (DSS), which portrayed Mr. Magu as “a liability to the anti-corruption stance” of the Buhari administration.

There have been responses from Nigerians about the disqualification of Magu. One of the senators who is apparently dissatisfied with the disqualification is Ali Ndume, former senate majority leader. He said if the senate could refuse to confirm Ibrahim Magu, as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) based on allegations levelled against him, Bukola Saraki who has a case in court should not be the senate president.

In his words, “we have all been accused, I have been accused of sponsoring Boko Haram, the senate president is still going to court,” Ndume said.

“Same as other members who have cases in court, yet they occupy seats in the senate. So, if you say because of the allegations he (Magu) should not be confirmed, then I should not be a sitting senator and Saraki should not be there as senate presiding “.

 Implications of Magu rejection.

It has slowed down the momentum of the fight against corruption. Naturally, Magu will be disillusioned and confused about his status.

With this development, many political watchers believe that corruption is fighting back. They are not out of tune because many of the senators have cases of corruption dangling on their necks. Many of them were former governors, some were powerful heads of boards of government agencies. The President of the senate, Dr Olusola Saraki, has a pending corruption related case in court. Both the Senate President and his deputy also have a forgery case in court.

They will probably want to use every political powers they have to stop the cases in court and any individual from prosecuting them.

EFCC has its problems too. It has been accused of acting beyond its powers. They have flouted many laws of the land by denying suspects their constitutional rights. It is fond of deliberately leaking information related to on going investigation to public, engaging in media prosecution to malign and destroy suspect’s integrity .

It is embarrassing to the President or Presidency for the national assembly to reject his nominee on frivolous and unsubstantiated grounds, simply because the party controls the executive and majority of the national assembly. The party (APC) has lost its supremacy over its members.

The party has lost its relevance and cohesion in charting a way forward for the nation. This is a party that has no Chairman board of trustees. The party has been battling internal wranglings within its ranks since forming this government since May 2015.

If the party is strong and cohesive, nominations and decisions ought to have been discussed and taken at the party’s caucus meetings.

The party is supposed to be a partner in progress to support the visions and missions of Mr President.

What is happening to inter agency collaboration of the executive?

DSS and EFCC are organs of the executive, and administratively they are under the Presidency. They report directly to the President. It is inconceivable and smacks of irresponsibility on the path of both agency to be working at cross purposes.

It is obvious that the President is favourably disposed to the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the EFCC boss.

It will be uncharitable not to blame Mr President for not being able to handle his political appointees and get grips of his government.

As the of the head of the government, he should have been able to resolve the grey areas before presenting him publicly for confirmation

This odious act is an embarrassment to the nation that is grappling with recession and underdevelopments.

It is high time this government get its acts together and do the needful to solve myriads of problems facing the nation.

We don’t need this little distractions.

A stich in time saves nine

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