Ibrahim Magu is still ‘acting’ EFCC Chairman, three years after he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari to oversee the anti-graft agency.
Magu was appointed EFCC Chairman in November of 2015.
Twice, the presidency has sent Magu to the senate for confirmation, twice the senate has refused to make Magu the substantive Chairman of the EFCC.
Here’s how that battle has gone so far….
Senate refuses to confirm Magu as EFCC Chairman, citing a damning report from the DSS.
The report alleges that Magu wines and dines with the corrupt, resides in a plush apartment rented at N40M (an amount well above his pay grade) and flies business class.
"This is in spite of Mr. President's directive to all public servants to fly economy class", the report stated in parts.
“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”, Senate spokesperson Sabi Abdullahi announced.
"The nomination of Ibrahim Magu is hereby rejected and has been returned to the President for further action,” Abdullahi added.
Magu heads to the senate again for confirmation as EFCC Chairman.
Surely, lawmakers have to confirm him this time, he thinks.
The embattled acting EFCC Chairman arrives the national assembly well ahead of schedule, flashes a pained smile this way and that and readies himself for his confirmation hearing.
He didn't have to wait for too long.
Minutes later, the lawmakers had rejected him again.
The most vocal rejection voices came from flamboyant Senator Dino Melaye and his truculent colleague, Biodun Olujimi.
"Why prosecute people on the pages of newspapers?", Olujimi flared.
Melaye said the Senate had received yet another security report on Magu from the DSS and that the president's nominee had failed "the integrity test".
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo tells select online journalists at the Villathat the executive didn’t need to send Magu to the senate for confirmation and that Magu will remain EFCC Chairman.
He added that Magu's name will continue to be submitted to the senate for as long as the presidency wants.
"I am fully in support of Magu as EFCC Chairman and so is the President. If our candidate is rejected, the law says we can re-present him", Osinbajo said.
He added that; "Even a pocket book lawyer knows that the constitution overrides the EFCC Act. The EFCC Act says the presidency has to send the name of the EFCC nominee to the senate for confirmation. The constitution states otherwise.
"There was no need, in the first place, to have sent Magu to the senate for confirmation", Osinbajo declared, hinting that the executive will rely on the prerogative powers of the president in matters like this, to keep Magu in his seat in perpetuity.
Senate asks Osinbajo to withdraw statement saying that senate lacks powers to confirm Magu, threatens to suspend confirmation of nominees from the presidency if the statement isn’t withdrawn.
Senator Yerima of Zamfara says: “I want to draw the attention of the Senate to a statement credited to the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo that the Senate does not have the power to confirm.
“I was surprised to see the Senate President read a letter from the same Acting President, who said the Senate does not have the power to confirm a nominee from the executive.
“I am raising this point of order to draw the attention of the senate to this issue and urge that we suspend any further action on confirmation of any nominee until the issue is resolved.”
Senator Sekibo (Rivers East), says: “All the various laws made to establish agencies of the federal government state that we will confirm nominations into such bodies. When an Acting President says that the Senate has no powers to confirm, I wonder if he is familiar with the provisions of the 1999 Constitution as amended”.
Senator Dino Melaye says: “We invited the Acting EFCC chairman. We invited him for a job interview and he failed. We rejected him.
“As I speak, Magu is still parading himself as EFCC chairman. Now, the same executive is sending a name for us to confirm. We confirmed Resident Electoral Commissioners before we went on break. They have sworn in some people and have refused to do same for others. This Senate leadership must act and take a position.
“It is time for the Senate to apply force. I am moving a motion that it becomes abominable for the Senate President to read another confirmation letter until the integrity of this Senate is respected by the executive.”
Defiant Magu vows to continue as EFCC Chairman whether he is confirmed or not.
“My priority is to fight corruption. My confirmation has not changed anything. We have always been on duty. I will work until the last day whether confirmation or no confirmation.
“So, we must wake up, wherever you find yourself, fight corruption. Anytime you discover that I am corrupt, expose me”, he said.
Osinbajo continues to throw his weight behind Magu.
“Magu is going nowhere. Seriously, what offence has this man committed?” Osinbajo asks.
“I have known him personally right from the time of the very first chairman of the commission till now, he is a very dedicated, trustworthy gentleman. Don’t forget he is also the most senior official of the EFCC.”
Magu takes up from where Osinbajo stops, says senators don't like his face because he’s after them.
“I don’t think it (non-confirmation) has given the public a cause for concern. I think it is a lot of encouragement. The fact that I am not confirmed shows I am working. Really,” Magu said.
“In the anti-corruption environment, if they rush to confirm you, it means you are not doing your work properly.”
“A number of the people we are .
“I am not completely distracted. It is not an issue. Rather, it gives me courage. You wake up in the morning and see some terrible publications about you. Despite all these, we are determined to go ahead.
“I cannot be distracted with those things. Nobody can purchase me, I cannot compromise what I am doing.”