The Senate has again rejected the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Magu was first rejected on the 15th of December, 2016 based on a report submitted to the Senate by the Director-General of the Department of State Services (DSS), Mr Lawal Daura.
This is the second time the Senate is rejecting Magu since he was appointed in an acting capacity since November 2015 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The rejection followed a heated questions and answers session between Senators and Magu. The question and answer session was part of the confirmation process for Magu.
Magu was grilled on issues of human rights abuses, abuses of court processes and judgments, as well as loss of human lives in EFCC cells.
Magu responded to questions on a report of the Department of State Services (DSS), which claimed that he corruptly enriched himself since he joined the commission in 2004.
He also dispelled claims that he accepted to stay in a house rented for him by a former Air Force officer who is currently facing corruption trial in one of the courts in the country.
The second rejection of Magu was based on another report from the DSS, which maintained the same position that he will constitute a problem to the ongoing anti-corruption fight.
His name was resubmitted to the Senate on the 24th of January, 2017, by President Buhari, despite a damning report from the DSS.
Announcing the rejection, after a one hour 30 minutes grilling by the Senate. Lawmakers claimed that another report from the DSS again indicted Magu.
In the letter signed by an operative of DSS, one F.O. Adams on behalf of the Director-General, the Service said the only difference between the old and the new report is the cover note.
In the cover note of the new report, sighted by our correspondent, the DSS boss reinstated his earlier position, saying that the Service was standing by its earlier claims.
“We want to reiterate our earlier position that we stand by our report, dated 3rd of October, 2016. Everything in the earlier document stands,” part of the cover note of the new report, read.
Trouble started when Senator Dino Melaye from Kogi State, drew the attention of lawmakers to paragraph 14, page 5 of the resubmitted security report.
Quoting the portion of the report, Melaye noted: “Magu has failed the integrity test and may constitute a liability to the anti-corruption fight.”
Melaye was soon followed by the Senate Deputy Minority Whip, Senator Biodun Olujimi. She asked Magu if he was qualified to still lead the anti-corruption agency, based on the new report from the DSS.
Magu, who appeared infuriated by Melaye’s revelation, lashed out at the DSS and accused it of not giving him a fair hearing.
He said: “The DSS report you are talking about, was I given any fair hearing? There is the case of fair hearing. Before you indict me, you ought to have invited me. Up till date, I have not been invited by the DSS to hear my own side of the story. Is that one fair hearing?”
Magu, left the chamber at about 1.38pm. Saraki, in his concluding remarks, urged President Buhari to forward a fresh name to the Senate for confirmation, adding that following the rejection, Magu can no longer act as chairman of the anti-graft commission.
“I want to urge the President to nominate another person since Magu can no longer act in that capacity as the chairman of EFCC. Today, democracy has worked. We followed due process. We hope that the executive will send in a new name so that the anti-corruption war can go on,” Saraki said.
A belated attempt by the immediate-past Senate Leader, Ali Ndume to salvage the situation, proved abortive.
Ndume, speaking after Magu was rejected, protested the approach adopted by the Senate President. He said Saraki erred by accepting a new report not signed by the Director-General of DSS, Daura.
Referring to a similar letter written to the Senate President by an Assistant Controller-General of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS) on behalf of Col. Hameed Ali, Ndume queried why Saraki declined to read the letter, but accepted a similar one from the DSS.
He was called to order by Saraki who explained the difference. He said the letter from NCS was not written on behalf of the Controller-General, unlike that of the DSS, which was signed on behalf of Daura.
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