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Men's Roundtable Ibrahim Magu and the politics of Senate rejection

The rejection of Ibrahim Magu as the head of the EFCC by the Senate has continued to raise questions and divided opinions.

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The Men's Roundtable play

The Men's Roundtable


When President Muhammadu Buhari was campaigning to oust the then regime of President Goodluck Jonathan, one of his key campaign promise was his determination to fight corruption in the country to a standstill.

After he won the election, one of the first people he chose to help him in the fight was Ibrahim Mustafa Magu, as the acting Chairman of Economic and financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Those who know the astute police officer say Kanuri, Borno State-born Magu is a fearless investigator who can stand up to any duty without caring whose Ox is gored.

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In fact, Magu, a University of Maiduguri Accountancy graduate who is also a certified accountant, is a trained financial crimes investigator with a background in forensic accounting, and he also trained at the FBI institute and the London Metropolitan Police institute.

Magu was the head of the EFCC’s Economic Governance Unit (EGU) during the tenure of Nuhu Ribadu as the Chairman and gained public attention when he led many high-profile investigations against James Ibori, the former governor of Delta State and the current Senate President Bukola Saraki when he was governor of Kwara State.

To underscore his no-nonsense stance, Magu worked with Ribadu to convict and jail his brother-in-law and former Managing Director of Bank of the North, Shettima Bulama.

So with his intimidating profile, Magu was seen by all as the man who would be able to head the EFCC and rein in corrupt government officials but little did the President and Magu himself know the hurdle that will stand before him when he gets to the Senate for his confirmation.

However, the Senate stunned the nation with the second rejection of the nomination of Magu on Tuesday, March 14, 2017, giving reasons that he had failed an integrity test following a letter it got from the Department of State Services (DSS), and arm of the Presidency.

In rejecting Magu, the said Senate spokesman, Abdullahi Sabi, said:

"The Senate wish to inform the public that based on available security report, the Senate cannot proceed with confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.

In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.

The nomination of Ibrahim Magu is hereby rejected and has been returned to the President for further action."

Though the rejection came to many Nigerians as no surprise, it still beggars the question if Magu stood a chance against the Senators or whether the Presidency took them for granted and did not do the necessary thing to get him to be confirmed.

In an interview with a radio station in Lagos on Saturday, March 18, Senator Magnus Abe stated categorically that Magu himself and the Presidency did not lobby the Senate, a necessary tool in such instances.

But right thinking Nigerians are of the view that there is more than meets the eye in the second rejection of Magu by the Senate which effectively rules him out from being nominated again and ends his tenure as acting EFCC Chairman.

Though the  Chairman of the Presidential Advisory Committee on Corruption, Professor Itse Sagay and many prominent Nigerians have continued to say that Magu can continue as the EFCC Chairman whether he is confirmed by the Senate or not, order 131 of the Senate Rules states that:

'Nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session or within 21 working days shall be returned by the clerk of 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.'

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What this means is that the President can no longer present Ibrahim Magu to be confirmed by the Senate. The Senate, however way we want to look at them, is an institution recognized by the constitution of Nigeria and any attempt for the President to impose Magu on them will be a breach of the laws of the land.

There is also feelers from different parts that in a country of more than 170 million people, Magu is not the only one qualified to head the EFCC and the President should soft pedal on imposing him on the Senate as that will send a wrong signal.

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