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Presidency awaits letter from Senate on Magu’s rejection
The Presidency will not react to the rejection of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu until it receives an official communication from the Senate.
There were, however, ongoing consultations with some stakeholders on the fate of Magu.
But a former Senate Leader, Sen. Ali Ndume yesterday faulted the rejection of Magu by the Senate.
He said if the Senate could disqualify Magu on the basis of mere allegations, the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and other Senators on trial have no business in the chamber.
He regretted that Magu was not given the benefit of the doubt.
The position of the presidency was made known in a tweet by the Special Adviser on Media and Publicity to the President, Mr. Femi Adesina.
Adesina said: “The Presidency will respond to the non-clearance of Magu as EFCC boss after it receives official communication in writing from the Senate.”
A government source, who spoke in confidence, said: “The President was already aware of the decision of the Senate but he wanted details on how the chamber arrived at its decision.
“While still awaiting the letter, consultations have started in government on the implications of the Senate’s decision for the anti-graft war.
“Definitely, the President will still seek the input of others on whether to retain Magu.”
Ndume, who spoke on Channels Television, described Magu’s rejection as “unfortunate”.
He said: “We have all been accused of some allegations at different times. I have been accused of sponsoring Boko Haram, and the Senate President is still going to court on some allegations. It is the same as other members who have cases in court. Yet they occupy seats in the Senate.
So, if you say because of the allegations he (Magu) should not be confirmed, then I should not be a sitting senator and Saraki should not be there as Senate President.
“The issue at stake is an accusation. In the normal circumstance and by our constitution, accusation is not conviction. The Constitution of Nigeria is clear that every Nigerian is innocent until proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt by a competent court of law.”
On the N39million apartment allegedly rented for Magu, the ex-Senate Leader said: “The house is not in his name.
“It’s a house called the safe house which was rented because of the rigorous work he is doing. You can’t afford to have somebody like that living in Karu or a densely populated area.”
Ndume, who said it was proper to lobby for Magu because it is part of legislative business, expressed regrets that APC could not take advantage of its strength of 65 senators to secure clearance for Magu.
He added: “There is no crime against lobbying, in fact we are supposed to lobby. I lobbied most of the senators but sometimes you keep on learning because this is kind of new.
“It is unfortunate that Magu could be rejected in a government where APC is in the majority and the president nominated a candidate for the second time after clarification on the allegations.
He dismissed insinuations that President Muhammadu Buhari would have been aware of Magu’s rejection when he met with Saraki and House of Representatives, Speaker Yakubu Dogara at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday.
“The President I know is not the kind of person that would interfere in such matters. I would have been surprised if the President discussed the issue of confirmation when he met the leaders of the National Assembly.”
Meanwhile, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (Transparency International’s contact in Nigeria) and Zero-corruption Coalition (ZCC), yesterday faulted the Senate’s decision to reject Magu
CISLAC made its position known in a statement by its coordinator, Auwal Musa (Rafsanjani)
The statement said: “We express deep concern at the turn of events as we are aware of President Buhari’s determination to fight corruption, which can be seen in the uncovering of judicial corruption and repatriation of looted funds headed by the EFCC under the leadership of Magu.
“This is the reason the President recommended him and still re-nominated him after he was first rejected.
“There is no doubt that Magu’s performance as Acting Chairman of EFCC has been commendable and it is quite worrisome that the person who is at the forefront of recovering stolen funds within and outside the country, was rejected for a second time, despite being nominated by the president.
“Nigeria is a very important country in West Africa and sub-Saharan Africa, but corruption has been the major malaise that has hindered development in almost all sectors of Nigeria’s economy.
“If the fight against corruption is allowed to lose the momentum it has gathered, because of the leadership hassle over the confirmation of the leadership of the EFCC, one of the major anti-corruption agencies in Nigeria, we may likely be back to square one in the fight against corruption.
“We call on the President not to allow the fight against corruption to lose steam on account of the non-confirmation of Magu. The Whistle Blowers’ Policy of the Federal Government must be exploited in the tackling of corruption and the government must quickly come up with an Executive Bill on Whistle Blowers Protection to ensure that the policy is better institutionalized.
“CISLAC and ZCC appreciate the efforts some of the senators are making to ensure that corruption is tackled in Nigeria and urge other senators to queue behind the agenda, as nothing less is expected of them knowing the level in which corruption has eaten deep into our social fabrics to avoid negative perception of their roles in this venture.
“It is crucial that the EFCC has a confirmed leader with integrity to sustain the fight against corruption and also prevent the recovered funds from being ‘re-looted’ in this leadership tussle. “We advise all well-meaning Nigerians and the media to speak out against all manners of unjust decision or resolution by the legislature or any other organ of government to subvert the on-going anti-corruption fight in the country.”