By MSUE AZA,
Acting President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday fired back at the Senate, declaring that Ibrahim Magu remains acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and cannot be removed by anybody.
The declaration was an apparent response to the lawmakers who had on Tuesday warned that any further move from him to undermine the powers of the legislative arm of government will amount to crossing the red line.
The Red Chamber relied on a comment made by acting president some months ago to suspend further confirmation of appointees of the president.
The lawmakers chided the executive arm of government for refusing to strictly adhere to legislative decisions in particular and the 1999 constitution (as amended) in general.
But speaking in Kaduna yesterday while commissioning a zonal office of the EFCC, the acting president who was represented by the governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, described Magu as a “nightmare for corrupt people”.
The governor also revealed the outcome of a conversation on Magu which he had with President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said, “Mr chairman, two weeks ago, I discussed the EFCC and your appointment with President Muhammadu Buhari and he told me he has confidence in you and in the commission and the work that you have been doing and that as long as he is president, you remain the chairman of the EFCC”.
“Last night, I spoke with the Acting President, Yemi Osinbajo, who reconfirmed the position of the president and told me that as long as he remained the acting president or vice-president, Ibrahim Magu would remain the chairman of the EFCC.
“That is the only message from the president. So, those thinking that corruption is winning this war, Magu would remain their nightmare for the next two years or six years as the case may be”.
Making his personal remarks, el-Rufai said over N500 million had been recovered from corrupt officials of the past government and some contractors in Kaduna.
Noting that those officials would be handed over to the EFCC for prosecution, el-Rufai said because of the zero tolerance his administration has for corruption, the anti-graft agency encouraged him to establish a zonal office in Kaduna.
The governor promised to allocate a piece of land to the commission for construction of its training school and staff quarters.
He said efforts to remake Kaduna would require the presence and cooperation of public integrity agencies like the EFCC.
His words: “We are passing a state anti-corruption law, in addition to the panoply of laws and policy actions we have taken to strengthen public finance management, streamline public procurement and make budgeting more transparent.
“The task of improving accountability and transparency in public life remains as urgent as it was as the EFCC’s founding. Therefore, the Kaduna State government offered the EFCC office premises in our state capital to demonstrate that we have zero-tolerance for bad behaviour by public office holders, contractors, businesses and citizens.
“We applaud the leadership of the EFCC for taking the significant step to establish a presence in Kaduna. I assure you that you can continue to count on the support of the state government. Kaduna State aligns with the effort of the Federal Government to fight corruption.
“Our resolve to ensure prudent use of state funds for the public good is the reason we adopted an open budgeting system that allows citizens participation. We have consistently published the audited annual accounts of the state”.
The brewing crisis between the legislature and executive over the choice of Magu’s took a deeper crisis dimension on Tuesday when the upper legislative chamber resolved to suspend the confirmation of nominees sent by the executive over Osinbajo’s support for Magu.
Ahmad Yerima, Senator representing Zamfara West, had moved a motion to stop the confirmation of Lanre Gbajabiamila as the director-general of Nigeria Lottery Commission.
He wondered why Osinbajo would send a nominee to the Senate after saying the upper legislative chamber did not have the power of confirmation.
Yerima was making reference to a statement made by Osinbajo when he spoke with select media organisations, including TheCable, in April.
Osinbajo had expressed support for the view of Chief Femi Falana (SAN), human rights lawyer, that the executive did not need to send the name of Magu to the Senate for confirmation.
He said, “There is an argument, whether or not we need to present him (Magu) for confirmation and that’s a compelling argument from Femi Falana. His (Falana) argument is that under the constitution, section 171, and if you look at that section, it talks about the appointments that the president can make. They include appointments of ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies such as the EFCC.
“In that same section 171, the constitution rightly said that certain appointments must go to the Senate such as ministerial and ambassadorial appointments. Those of heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the Senate. That’s what the constitution says. But the EFCC Act, which of course as you know is inferior, says that EFCC chairman should go to the Senate for confirmation.
“I am sure that even a pocket book lawyer knows that when a legislation conflicts with constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails. I agree with Mr Falana that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the senate.”
The senate had rejected Magu on two different occasions.
Some Big Nigerians Planning To Kill Anti-corruption War – Magu
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) yesterday declared that concerted efforts are being made by some big Nigerians to neutralise the fight against corruption.
Acting chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Magu, who stated this while commisioning the anti-graft Kaduna zonal office and stakeholders engagement session of the commission on Kaduna, called for establishment of a special prison for corrupt Nigerians in the dreaded Boko Haram infested Sambisa forest.
Magu, however, noted that for the prison to become a reality, the judiciary arm of government should cooperate with the commission.
The EFCC boss who is having a running battle with the Senate revealed that illegal monies are likely to be abandoned by corrupt persons at the nation’s airport in the nearest future as it happened at Kaduna airport some few months ago.
He commended Kaduna State governor, el-Rufai, for encouraging EFCC to establish a zonal office in Kaduna.
Magu said, “We want to call for establishment of prison in Sambisa forest in order to keep away corrupt people from our midst. In this case, the judiciary has direct influence to help in the fight against corruption.
“But concerted efforts are being made by some big Nigerians to neutralise the fight against corruption. We must change the narrative by fighting back those that do not want the fight to succeed. I remain committed to the fight against corruption, and I commend the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai for encouraging EFCC to establish a zonal office in Kaduna”.