The Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, Prof. Itse Sagay, has criticised the Senate for refusing to confirm the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Sagay told The PUNCH in a telephone interview that the Senate acted for selfish reasons and not in the general interest of Nigerians.
He said, “The Senate doesn’t appoint a chairman of the EFCC; what it does is to confirm an appointment. If it doesn’t confirm, then, he will remain acting, he doesn’t become substantive but the powers of acting or substantive chairman are the same; it is just a difference in nomenclature.
“So, any act of bad faith to slow down the corruption war is misplaced and it won’t work. It is sad that people will go to that extent of rejecting what is good for the country for their selfish reasons because they think it is not convenient for them. So this is preference for self-preservation at the expense of the nation and the people of the country.”
He asked Nigerians to rise up and join the fight against corruption and condemn the action of the Senate.
“They must show that they are interested and affected by the misery and poverty that have been caused by looting. They must come out and fight and join in the struggle; otherwise, they will wake up one day and realise that there is no country again.”
Also, human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), believed the Senate had not rejected Magu officially.
He said, “What the law says is that the Senate shall confirm an EFCC chairman; not an executive session, not a committee and the Senate has not done this.
“So, the Senate has not rejected him and if you look at what has been done, they are saying they received a security report for which reason they are not considering his nomination.”
Also, a group of lawyers, under the aegis of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers, demanded the disclosure of the nature and content of the “security report”, which the Senate relied on to reject the nomination of Magu.
In a statement on Thursday by its President, Mr. Luke Aghanenu, NADL said it was curious that the Senate would reject Magu in spite of the good performance of the EFCC under his watch as acting chairman.
The group said, “Perhaps it is to save its face from what obviously seems to be outright bias that it embarked on this rejection by invoking unexplained security reasons.
“As the power to confirm or reject a nominee for the Chairman of the EFCC is a constitutional duty, we demand that the Senate should immediately disclose to Nigerians what the ‘security report’ on Mr. Ibrahim Magu, is to justify the announced rejection of his nomination.
Groups condemn EFCC boss rejection
Also, civil rights groups, in separate interviews with The PUNCH condemned the rejection of the EFCC acting chairman by the Senate.
The President of the Nigeria Voters Assembly, Mashood Erubami, said there was a context in which the Senate had been reluctant to accede to the confirmation of the EFCC Chairman before the rejection.
He stated, “The context is that corruption is strongly fighting back albeit vindictively. The rejection is not only targeted at stepping on the toes of the executive in its dogged fight against corruption but also to pull down the institutions being used and to rubbish the President’s efforts to strongly put up a good fight against unethical practices.
“Indeed, the direction in which the legislators are going to either end the fight against corruption or crush its fighting legs is well known to Nigerians but it will be left to Nigerians to rise to bail themselves from the menacing acts of their tormentors.”
A member of the House of Representatives in the Second Republic, Dr. Junaid Mohammed, described the Senate’s rejection of the nomination of Magu as a blow to democracy.
Mohammed said, “I find the whole development rather curious. I do not accept that in a democracy, the legislature should presume and deliberately delay the confirmation of such an important position in the government, and now, belatedly, advance some funny reasons such as adverse security report.
“My suspicion is that some members of the cabal around the President and their friends in the Senate, who are determined to make sure that Magu does not get confirmed, are responsible for this situation.
“Secondly, since Magu has served in this capacity for six months and has not been found wanting, the normal routine is to confirm his appointment. The government of the day, in conjunction with Senators, has refused to confirm him. I feel this is a blow to democracy.”
The President, Campaign for Democracy, Bako Usman, said the lawmakers might have rejected Magu for being too close to the Presidency.
“The irony behind the tragedy of not confirming (Magu) may not be far away from the fact that Magu has been seen by the majority, not just the Senate, as being selective in his quest for bringing citizens to justice.
“The romance that exists between Magu and the Presidency is glaring, the National assembly will rather want a different person in that position,” he added.
But a lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, said the action of the Senate re-asserted the independence of the legislative arm of government.
He stated, “It is wrong to build our institutions, especially the anti -corruption agencies, around individuals. We should strengthen the institutions rather than the individuals.
“In this regard, the rejection of Mr. Magu should have no impact on the work of the EFCC, ordinarily. In a country of about 180 million people, the President should shop for a replacement that can perform the job as much or even better than Mr. Magu.”
Niyi Odebode, John Alechenu, Fidelis Soriwei, Friday Olokor, Eniola Akinkuotu, Leke Baiyewu, Oladimeji Ramon and Samson Folarin