Based on extant Senate rules, the upper legislative chamber will not reconsider Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the substantive Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) should he be re-nominated.
Citing Senate Rules, Order 131, Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West) said President Muhammadu Buhari could not validly re-nominate Magu for the job again as the provision would not allow members consider his nomination, having been rejected at a senate session.
Order 131 of the Senate Rules states that, ”nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session or within 21 working days in the case of ministerial nominees shall be returned by the Clerk to the National Assembly to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and shall not again be made to the Senate by the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria”.
Magu was rejected by the Senate after he was screened on Wednesday – exactly three months after the parliament first rejected him at its December 15, 2016 closed-door session, citing damning corruption allegations against him by the Department of State Services (DSS).
Buhari had on January 24, 2017, represented Magu for confirmation, noting he had been cleared of the allegations of corruption leveled against him.
Magu was however considered for screening the second time because he had not been rejected at an open session. His rejection of December 15, 2016 was done at an executive session, a move which generated criticisms and apparently prompted Senate’s decision to accept his nomination the second time.
Following divergent views on the rejection of Magu by the Senate and strident calls in some quarters on the President to re-nominate him or continue to keep him in acting capacity, Melaye, in a statement issued Saturday, urged the President to consider nominating a fresh candidate with the qualifications, experience, integrity, knowledge and temperament to head the EFCC.
“Those suggesting to the President that after failing to scale the confirmation process twice, the President should leave Magu to be acting, are only recommending violation of the law, disrespect for due process and perpetration of illegality. All these will only undermine democracy and constitutionalism in our country,” he said.
“Those drafters of the law who made the provision that the Senate should confirm the nomination of the EFCC chairman did not make any mistake and nobody should observe the law in the breach by getting a person into that office who has not been confirmed. Magu is not greater than the law creating EFCC. Magu is not the last messiah. He can’t be the only competent person for the job out of 170 million Nigerians. Should he voluntarily decline the appointment today, will EFCC fold up?”, Melaye queried.
Meanwhile, the Senate has formally communicated last Wednesday’s rejection of the nomination Magu as the substantive chairman of EFCC to President Buhari.
THISDAY checks on Saturday revealed that the correspondence to the President was signed by Senate President Bukola Saraki on Wednesday after the plenary where Magu was screened and rejected.
THISDAY was also informed that the correspondence was handed to Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly (Senate) Matters, Senator Ita Enang, for onward delivery to the President on Thursday, March 16.
An impeccable source who did not want to be named told THISDAY that votes and proceedings of Wednesday, March 15, 2017 were transmitted to the president in accordance with legislative practice.
“On the screening of EFCC nominee, Ibrahim Magu, the President of the Senate has sent a communication to President Muhammadu Buhari. In compliance with standard of legislative practice, the President of the Senate has forwarded the votes and proceedings of Wednesday to the president because the standard of legislative practice is that every request sent to the National Assembly by the president when completed, has to be reported back to the president,” the source said.
The source however, declined to state the exact date the transmission was made.
On Thursday, Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said the presidency was yet to receive any communication on Magu’s rejection.
When contacted on the phone last night, Enang told THISDAY that though there had been a communication between the Senate and the Presidency, he was not privy to the content of the letter. “Yes, there has been a communication between the Senate and the Presidency but the content there-of is privileged,” he stated.
Following his re-nomination by the President, Magu was screened last Wednesday but was again rejected by the senate, citing a second DSS report which showed that he “failed integrity test.”
Consequently, the Senate said Magu should henceforth cease to act as the commission’s chairman. It also advised Buhari to send the name of a fresh nominee to the parliament for consideration.
While announcing Magu’s first rejection on December 15, 2016, after about two hours of closed door meeting, Senate’s spokesman, Sabi Abdullahi, had cited unfavourable security report as the reason for Magu’s rejection.