I do not have any opinion about whether Mr. Ibrahim Magu is fit to be chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) or not. I have read a variety of opinions about his qualification or otherwise that one would rather be careful in reaching a conclusion.
Members of the civil society, and the Presidential Advisory Committee have given the impression that Magu is the only one fit for the job at the moment while the Department of State Services (DSS) has categorically stated, in that oft quoted letter, that Magu failed the integrity test and as a result cannot head the EFCC. This, from what we gathered in the past week, is the reason why the Senate refused to confirm him.
But many Nigerians have continued to blame the Senate for Magu’s non- confirmation, when the Senate has actually done nothing outside its constitutional duty. Although the president is the appointing authority for the members of the EFCC, Section 2(3) of The Economic and Financial, Crimes Commission Act, 2004 rests the confirmation or otherwise of such nominees in the Senate.
Now, in the confirmation or rejection of anyone nominated into office by the President, the Senate must depend on a number of considerations, one of which is the security report on the nominee(s) This security report has been presented to the Senate on the two occasions that Magu has been nominated and the report has insisted on both occasions that there are integrity issues.
To be clear, on the re-nomination of Magu, the Senate said it wrote to the DSS to confirm a likely change in the initial report, but the security agency wrote to stand by its first report. Do Nigerians then expect the Senate to go ahead and confirm the nominee? Wouldn’t the Senate have behaved like that family head that goes to bed with smoke billowing out of his roof?
One understands that there exists massive distrust between Nigerians and the National Assembly since the beginning of this administration, but it pays us to be able to compartmentalise our assessments of and possible disgust with the agencies of government. There can’t be one size that fits all in these issues.
What is even more curious is that there has hardly been a whimper about the DSS from whence the fatal report emanated. This is in spite of several reports of inter-agency strife even before this report on Magu came into public consciousness.
It is even more curious that Nigerians are not wondering how and why the DSS, which is part of the same executive arm of government as the EFFC, could go on with this report without the knowledge of President Buhari.
It would be a gratifying to imagine that this could signify an independent intelligence body not susceptible to presidential control but we know very well that Nigeria is still far from that reality. So how did this happen?
Now, we have heard that there are possibilities that Mr. Magu’s name would be re-presented and I am wondering whether we will not arrive this same post unless the DSS changes its mind about the damning report it keeps presenting.
Some Nigerians, curiously those who should know better have also suggested that the President should allow Magu to act in this capacity indefinitely. While everyone is free to express their opinion, I feel that this suggestion is faulty on two fronts.
The first is that it gives the impression that Nigeria is short of people of integrity who can man this office. Now, nothing can be more outrageous. While one may not have anything against the appointment of Magu, to suggest that not appointing him ultimately would derail the anti-corruption war of this current regime is to take hyperbole to a comical level. I suggest proponents of this idea should desist forthwith.
The second and more frightening implication of suggestions that Magu should stay in office in spite of the DSS report and Senate’s non-confirmation is to rubbish the law that permits the security report and the EFCC Act which in Section 2(3) further provides that chairman and members of the commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the president and the appointment SHALL BE SUBJECT TO CONFIRMATION OF THE SENATE. How can anyone who has ever spoken about the need to nurture democracy and democratic institutions in Nigeria ever suggest that illegalities should be perpetrated on account of just one person.
Painful as the none confirmation of Magu could be to his supporters and even injurious as it may be to the fight against corruption (something which many Nigerians still believe hasn’t taken off), suggestions that we should circumvent the laws of the land because we want one person in office should not be heard from democrats.
Nigerians need to understand this.
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