Ahead of the Senate’s two weeks ultimatum to President Muhammadu Buhari, requesting that he replaces the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, fresh indications emerged Sunday night that Buhari would not agree to the lawmakers’ resolution but rather has coordinated Magu to proceed with his employment. A top ranking presidential aide revealed this improvement to The Daily Times in Abuja on Sunday. He likewise uncovered that Buhari had decided on Magu, saying that the president trusts that Magu is the correct man for the employment as the present advancement is a diversion and plot to wreck the fight against corruption.
The presidential aide, who sought anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the matter, also stated that the president was aware of the conspiracy over Magu’s confirmation, saying that Buhari would soon take appropriate action on the matter. He said: “I can tell you authoritatively that the president is solidly behind Magu. He knows that certain people are against Magu’s confirmation on the grounds of his uncompromising attitude to the war against corruption. “The president is also aware of the high wire politics and conspiracy surrounding his confirmation proceedings in the Senate. Every action of the dramatis personae in the whole saga is duly noted by Mr. President and he will soon make a decisive pronouncement on the matter. “It is important to state here that the Senate cannot decide for the president on whom to appoint to any post. That is his prerogative and it cannot be shared with anybody. This power of Mr. President is clearly stated in section 171 of 1999 Constitution (as amended). “Section 171 (1) of the constitution states that” Power to appoint persons to hold or act in the offices to which this section applies and to remove persons so appointed from any such office shall vest in the President”. “It is unfortunate that people forget that the president is a man who abhors frivolity and personal aggrandizement. He is highly principled and sticks to integrity. He allows you to exhaust every trick before taking action. “He knows that Magu is doing the right thing at the EFCC and how the war against graft is being fought vigorously. The fight against corruption is one of the cardinal programmes of this administration and you will agree with me that the president will never allow anybody to humiliate the anchor man (Magu). “Through his activities and others, the fight against corruption is being acknowledged at home and abroad while Magu is passionate about his job. “But Mr. President will not abandon Magu at this time as those against him are few while majority of Nigerians want the president to retain him on the job.” When reminded that there is speculation that Buhari is presently shopping for Magu’s replacement in view of Senate rejection and the controversy arising from his status, the presidential aide debunked the insinuation. According to him, the president is not seeking for any candidate to replace Magu, saying that Magu has lived up to expectations and there is no need to change a winning team. He added that what was happening to Magu is politics and personal interests, insisting that the president (as a retired General) would not succumb to blackmail. He said: “Please note that the president is not shopping for any candidate to replace Magu because the man is doing his job conscientiously. “One thing Magu’s critics or adversaries cannot take away from him is performance. They know that he has performed. What we are witnessing now is politics and personal interests of certain people who feel threatened if Magu is eventually confirmed.” On the Executive Peace Committee headed by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo (SAN) to broker peace with the National Assembly over the impasse, the presidential aide declined to comment on the issue. He said: “It will not be appropriate for me to speak on the peace deal. Once the Vice President returns from his foreign trip and the modalities are put in place, we will definitely inform Nigerians on the way forward.” The Senate had last week Wednesday suspended the confirmation hearing of 27 Resident Electoral Commissioners sent to it by Buhari on the grounds that the president is yet to act on its resolution on Magu. The lawmakers had rejected Magu for the second time based on report from the Department of State Services (DSS) which claimed that Magu had failed integrity test. According to the lawmakers, they will put the screening of the nominees for INEC RECs on hold for two weeks until Buhari removed Magu and forwarded the name of his replacement. They insisted that Magu could not continue to act as the acting chairman of the EFCC since they have rejected him twice. But fierce legal arguments have ensued between legal luminaries over the status of Magu in view of his rejection by the Senate. While some lawyers have argued that Magu could still act as his name could still be represented, others insisted that he could not act again as the EFCC Act has been activated. Two lawyers, Femi Falana (SAN) and Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN) have argued that Buhari could retain Magu as the acting chairman of the EFCC on the strength of the said section 171 of the Constitution and the Interpretation Act. They also insisted that the power to appoint and fire resides with the president and the Senate cannot dictate to Buhari in this regard. Section 2 (3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act 2004 states that, “The chairman and members of the commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President and the appointment shall be subject to the confirmation of the Senate.” But two lawyers, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN) and Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, have faulted the argument of their learned brothers. According to Ozekhome and Adegboruwa, once the Senate has rejected Magu, he ceases to be in charge of the EFCC. The duo argued that Magu has been appointed by Buhari as acting chairman of the EEFC. But they further argued that once his name had been forwarded to the Senate as the substantive chairman of the EFCC and the Senate rejected him, the EFCC Act on the need for the appointment of the chairman of the agency has been activated. They added that Magu could not go back to his previous position as the acting chair of the EFCC since he had been rejected by the Senate as the substantive chairman of the agency.