Last Wednesday, the senate spurned the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
That was the second time it gave Magu the “boot”.
On December 15, 2016, the upper legislative first turned down the request of President Muhammadu Buhari to confirm Magu as substantive EFCC chairman.
But Buhari re-nominated him for the position.
However, weeks after the president had asked it to reconsider its position on his nominee, the senate declined to confirm his appointment, citing a security report from the Department of State Services (DSS) which declared him unfit to head the anti-corruption agency as the reason for its decision.
But TheCable learnt that “high-wire politics” was culpable in the upper legislative chamber’s repudiation of Magu’s nomination as EFCC chief.
Now, there is a gaping polarity regarding the fate of the acting EFCC chairman.
While some Nigerians argue that the president can re-nominate him, others say it will raise questions if he is given the nod again. Some are also of the view that the decision of the senate was not in good faith.
One of those who have expressed support for the re-nomination of Magu is Itse Sagay, chairman of the Presidential Advisory Council Against Corruption (PACAC).
According to Sagay, the senate rejected Magu’s nomination because it felt threatened by his commitment to fight corruption.
“They (senate) have done their own part of the job – very good. They don’t appoint, they merely confirm. So, the appointer will continue to appoint,” he had said in reaction to Magu’s disqualification.
Also, Ali Ndume, a senator from Borno state, is one lawmaker who has excoriated his colleagues for not confirming Magu’s appointment.
He believes the senate was not fair to the anti-graft czar.
But another senator, Dino Melaye, from Kogi west, said Magu did not impress anybody including those senators who would have been sympathetic to his cause during the confirmation hearing at the senate.
He also expressed strong opposition to the re-nomination of Magu as EFCC chairman, saying it would be an illegality.
In a statement issued last Saturday, Melaye declared that Magu was not the last messiah; hence a new person should be appointed to head the EFCC.
“Those suggesting to the president that after failing to scale the confirmation process twice, the president should leave Magu to be acting are only recommending violation of the law, disrespect for due process and perpetration of illegality. All these will only undermine democracy and constitutionalism in our country,” he had said.
“Those drafters of the law who made the provision that the senate should confirm the nomination of the EFCC chairman did not make any mistake and nobody should observe the law in the breach by getting a person into that office who has not been confirmed. Magu is not greater than the law creating EFCC.
“Magu is not the last messiah. He can’t be the only competent person for the job out of 170 million Nigerians. Should he voluntarily decline the appointment today, will EFCC fold up?”
Also, Mike Ozekhome, a senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), expressed the same sentiments as Melaye’s.
He declared that Magu had ceased to be EFCC chairman.
“Re-presenting his (Magu’s) name will raise more questions than answers as to why the insistence on one man. This is unlike the first instance when the Senate merely turned him down without any screening,” he said in a statement.
Femi Falana, human rights lawyer, is not also in support of the action of the senate. The issue has created a division among legal experts. What should the president do at this point in time? Re-nominate Magu as EFCC chairman in the face of these contending views, or pick another person?
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