Magu: Presidency Stokes Ember of Discord •Nigerians Bear The Brunt

By on April 13, 2017


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The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has been very much in the news lately, but the most relevant of all the news items has been the resolve of the Muhammadu Buhari-led Executive arm of the Nigerian government to retain the commission’s embattled boss, Ibrahim Magu

And this epoch-making decision was broken by no other person than the Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.The executive’s argument as presented by Osinbajo was straight forward enough, Magu - who has been refused confirmation by the Senate twice - does not necessarily need to be confirmed by the Nigerian Senate, going by Section 171 of the 1979 Constitution.

According to Osinbajo, President Muhammadu Buhari is satisfied with Magu’s response to the report of the Department of State Services (DSS) on which the Senate based its action. The Senate had rejected the nomination of Magu by Mr. President due to adverse reports from the Department of State Security (DSS). And at the last rejection, the lawmakers specifically asked that Magu be sacked and not represented for the position.

This turn of events simply bring to fore the behind the scene tussle between the Executive and the Legislature, surprisingly both from the same ruling party: The All Progressives Congress (APC). The series of meetings that surrounded the desperation on the part of the Executive to have Magu confirmed by the Senate  proved this.The Federal Executive Council recently set up a committee headed by Mr. Osinbajo to discuss with the National Assembly leadership and try to end the rift. The leadership of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) also got involved in the negotiation when it met with its Senate caucus.

At a meeting between the APC leadership and the party’s National Assembly caucus, some senators allegedly requested the corruption trial of Senate President, Bukola Saraki be dropped for smooth working relationship with the executive.

Saraki is being tried at the Code of Conduct Tribunal for perjury.

The Senate President has, however, denied any wrongdoing and said he believed the trial would soon collapse.

On its face value, attempts have been made by some lawyers to explain away, the recent stance of the executive. Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Second Vice President Monday Ubani and Lagos lawyer Tope Alabi said the Presidency’s position is legally correct and that Magu can continue to act as EFCC chair.

But, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Abiodun Owonikoko, said either the executive or the legislature should approach the Supreme Court for an interpretation of what he described as a legal problem. He said he could not reconcile the fact that the executive would send names to the Senate for confirmation, and when the person is rejected, retain the person in acting capacity.

Owonikoko said either of the parties could ask the Supreme Court to resolve the “serious matter” since both arms are insisting they are right.Ubani said the Presidency’s position may be legally correct, but not politically savvy. The former NBA Ikeja branch chairman said: “Conflicts are resolved in civilised climes by recourse to law of the land. Before now, EFCC chairman was usually confirmed by the Senate. Magu’s confirmation generated so much controversy for several reasons.

“He was Acting Chairman for too long during which he went after several senators who were alleged to have one corruption case or the other and this put his confirmation in clear jeopardy.

“He did not go for ordinary senators alone, he also went after Saraki Bukola, the Senate President, for breach of Code of Conduct rules for public officers and this happened while he was the Governor of Kwara State.

“Knowing how the typical Nigerian politicians operate, it would have been surprising for the Senate to confirm Magu ordinarily without much ado, in the light of the fact that many of them were under his investigation.

“Magu’s matter became compounded when the Department of State Services (DSS), an agency under the executive arm, wrote an adverse report against Magu and submitted it straight to the Senate without the knowledge of the Presidency, at least so we were told.

“The Senate that was looking for any deadly bullet for Magu saw many bullets in the letter of the DSS which they used maximally to turn down his confirmation two solid times.”

Ubani said going by facts, the Presidency believes that Magu is very key to its fight against corruption, having justified that confidence over time.

“The VP is right on the position of the law with regard to Magu being retained as the head of EFCC but there are consequences for this legally correct position. There are consequences due to the nature of the Senate we have now in Nigeria.

“They are as follows: a frosty relationship between the Senate and the Presidency which may linger throughout this administration; no budget approval for EFCC as an agency; refusal to bend backwards for the Presidency over pending bills in the Senate; collateral issues that may affect governance generally.

“We have not heard the last over Magu’s matter. Nigerians expect the resolution of this matter soon and for good governance to be given to Nigerians who were promised ‘change’ by the APC administration.

“Time is ticking and Nigerians await the fulfillment of all the promises, including deadly fight against corruption. They must not fail Nigerians!,” Ubani said.

A member of the Ogun State Judiciary Commission, Abayomi Omoyinmi, said the Presidency was in order to have endorsed Magu to continue in office in his capacity as the acting EFFC chair.

“No law has been violated by Vice President Osinbajo’s endorsement in this regard. Section 171 of the 1999 constitution is clear and unambiguous as to the acting capacity at which Mr Magu can continue to act even despite the rejection of him as the substantive EFFC boss,” he said.

Activist-lawyer Tope Alabi said the Senate’s refusal to confirm Magu does not mean he cannot continue to act in office. He said the president was at liberty to appoint anyone in acting capacity so long as the president remains in office.

But the kernel was recently touched by the Archbishop Emeritus of the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, who is not amused by the current face-off between the executive and the legislative arms of government.

He, therefore, advised the two sides to put an immediate end to the bickering, place the interest of the citizenry above personal interests, and work together for the development of the nation.Okogie, in a statement in Lagos, challenged the leadership to secure Nigeria from those he called armed robbers, kidnappers and herdsmen, saying: “Our politicians are busy fighting one another, exchanging blows in the hallowed chambers of legislation, resorting to character assassination.

“Our law enforcement institutions have been turned into their arsenal in this battle of the sanctimonious; the executive accuses the legislature of corruption and vice versa.

“Both parties in the conflict pretend to be fighting for us, they are fighting to guard the ‘trophy’ they won at the last election while preparing to retain the same trophy in the next election.

“They are so busy fighting that they have no time to work for our security. Their sterile conflict is, in fact, prejudicial to our security.“Their negligence of duty, their tantrums, their failure to be transparent and accountable with very few exceptions, point to the fact that they are part of the equation of insecurity in our country.”

Okogie asked political leaders to provide infrastructure and adequate security for the citizens.

He added: “Our leaders are well protected, but we the citizens are not. Political leaders who cannot provide security are a total failure.”

Source cattnews

Posted 13/04/2017 8:51:44 PM




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