By Nuel Suji – Senate Committee Chairman on Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) Senator Muhammed Ali Ndume has questioned the decision of its colleagues to turn down President Muhammadu Buhari’s nomination of Ibrahim Magu to be confirmed as substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The former senate majority Leader who was sacked sacked last year by his colleagues over his position on Magu candidacy said the President, having earlier cleared Magu basis of a Report by the Attorney General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami should go ahead to stand by his conviction that the Acting Chairman of EFCC committed no infraction contrary to the allegations levelled against him by the DSS.
He recalled that after the initial rejection of Magu by the Senate based the DSS Report, President Buhari re-nominated Magu for confirmation with an advise by Vice president and the Attorney General, believing that the Acting EFCC Chairman was not guilty as charged.
He said, “Honestly I will be surprised if Mr President does not send Magu’s name again. After we raised an issue that Magu had an issue with the DSS Report, the President submitted Magu’s name again, explaining that he had investigated the allegations and found him not to be guilty of the allegations against him.
“The President said in his letter to the Senate that the investigation was done by the Attorney General of the Federation and the Vice President. Now, if we are in the same party with 65 Senators on our side, why should we be seen to be opposing the President?”
The one time Senate Majority Leader said President Buhari should never allow any form of compromises on his commitment to the fight against corruption in Nigeria, a reason he should stick to Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC.
Ndume made this known while featuring in an interview session at the African Independent Television (AIT) on Sunday, stating that he was on the side of Magu to continue to head the EFCC not because he had any personal interest in him, but because of the need to sustain the momentum on the anti-corruption battle he has been fighting.
He faulted the voice vote employed by the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki which led to Magu’s rejection by the Senate, contending that the Senate president in line with tradition should have differed voting on Magu to a new legislative day after he had been screened.
He said voting on Magu should have been done electronically in which case, Nigerians should take note of the pattern of voting by Senators, just for future references, since according to him, Nigerians need to know the minds of their Senators on specific issues.
Ndume lamented that the rejection of Magu by the Senate was premeditated, wondering why it had to write to the DSS to demand for an advisory on Magu just a day to his scheduled screening.
He said, “As a Senate, our job is limited only to confirmation of nominees. We are not supposed to investigate anybody. We are not supposed to be a court. The tradition is that if there is a nominee before us, Senators from that state will take a position and that is the first hurdle. All the three Senators from the North East had no objection to Magu
“Secondly, in the National Assembly confirmation process, this is the first time that the Senate would write a security organisation asking for security report on a nominee. That is not the procedure. The President does the nomination and then he requires the Senate confirmation. After that, there would be a security check on the nominee and the appropriate organ to do that is the DSS and not the Senate.
“Again, it was the first time that a report would be written on a nominee just a day before screening. The DSS report was written on March 14th and Magu was before us on the 15th. “
Ndume lamented that the APC failed to intervene on the issue of Magu by calling for a meeting of the party’s Senate caucus, a reason he said there was a disconnect among its members in the Senate on the issues at stake.
He stressed however, that precedence still favours President Buhari if he decides to stick to Magu as Acting Chairman of EFCC and later submit his name.
He recalled that in the Second Republic Nigeria, then President Shehu Shagari had to submit the name of Ali Baba as the Minister of Interior to the Senate six times before he was eventually cleared.
Former President Olusegun Obasajo, during his reign had submitted the names of Onyema Ugochukwu for NDDC Chairmanship three times before he was cleared, so also the name of Chief Babalola Borisade before the Senate cleared him for appointment