Letter To The Senate: It Is Not Buhari Who Want Magu, By Nasiru Suwaid

Many have predicted it, a lot many more, had expected it, which is the rejection of Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, as the Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC], by the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Thus, it did not come as a surprise, to many a Nigerian citizen, when the czar of the national anti-corruption agency was not confirmed, because of a seemingly, negative report by the Directorate of State Security [DSS], despite the fact, the secretive investigative agency, issued two contradictory reports, which could render its assessment highly suspect and uncredible.

However, little did we know, that, far from a DSS report, which we suspected, was the reason why the Nigerian Senate, rejected the nomination of Magu, the Senate President Dr. Bukola Saraki, who is the most authentic voice of the nation’s highest legislative body, stated in a TV Continental [TVC] interview, at the sidelines of an international conference in Dakhlan, Morocco, that, rather than the discredited report, being the reason why the Senate made its decision to reject Magu, the refusal to confirm him, was inspired by the feedback, the Nigerian senators got from their constituents.

Who wanted the representatives of the Nigerian people, to reject the nomination of one individual, who is genuinely and strenuously fighting corruption, especially, in an environment where accepting graft, has become institutionalized as a norm and an admirable cultural trait worth being emulated .The first thought that came to my mind, was to ponder and utter so openly, in bewilderment, whether, the Nigerian public are so ignorant, that they have not heard, that many of the senators, who participated in the confirmation process are constitutional barred, from partaking in the exercise because of conflict of interest, as many of the members, have one case or another against the agency, which they are confirming its chairman.

Perhaps, were it solely, the executive branch of the government, which is promoting and supporting the confirmation of Magu, it could be a legitimate right for the legislature to oppose it, after all, checks and balances is a desired trait in operative democracy. Also, were the DSS who authored the controversial report, not part of the executive branch, it could be easily argued, that it is us against them, the argument about President Muhammadu Buhari’s obstinacy, in sticking and demanding that a single individual must be appointed, when there are many Nigerians, who have the competency, capability, ability and expertise to do the job.

The simple truth is that the issue of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has become a test case for Nigerian democracy, not in terms of legislative independence or its capability to flex muscle with the executive, rather, the matter is significant to our democracy, because, just like the Senate President had stated, that the Red Chamber relied on the wishes of the people, to reach its verdict by rejecting the nominee. The administration of President Muhammadu Buhari will be bold to also state and acclaim, it is because of the will of the people, which is it is seeking to affirm, it is the reason why it is insisting on the confirmation of Ibrahim Mustapha Magu.

Not because, he is an angel amongst men, not because, has never made a mistake in his life and on his job, not because, he is capable of giving glowing presentation or he has made a perfect performance before the Senate, not because, a mistake has not been made, when he was presented in the previous times, after all, as Dr. Bukola Saraki said in the TVC interview, Nigeria is still learning the ropes in the workings of a liberal democracy.

Unfortunately in the management of optics, public perception and the image of the present administration, which majority of the members in the National Assembly subscribe to, being followers of the ruling All Progressive Congress [APC], as the party in power. Ibrahim Magu has become a symbol in the fight against corruption in Nigerian. Also, the international community is regarding Magu, as a measure of our seriousness as a nation, in tackling money laundering, financial crimes and accountable governance.

It is incumbent on the two branches of the government, to find away in measuring which of the voices of the greater national public, they are listening to. Because, it is not possible for Nigerians to deny Magu to the legislature and want the same individual, through the vibes the executive are hearing, the best way out of the seeming quagmire is for the Senate, since issues in the DSS report has been discredited, to employ a credible polling agency, most especially, for it to be of international repute, to conduct a credible sampling, asking the view of Nigerians, whether they want Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, to be confirmed as the substantive Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission [EFCC].

Follow me on Twitter: @neeswaid

The Trial Of Hameed ‘Netanyahu’ Ali, By Simon Kolawole

Retired Col. Hameed Ali was sitting gently on his sofa and watching TV on August 27, 2015 when some news flashed on the screen: he had been appointed the comptroller-general of the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS). He was shocked. The previous day, he was with President Muhammadu Buhari and had not the slightest idea that he was going to be appointed CG. As a long-time associate of the president, Ali was expecting to be made chief of staff — a position he had served Buhari for years in various presidential campaigns — or chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). He could not make sense of the customs appointment.

As the story goes, he was heavily disappointed. He refused to get in touch with Buhari for nearly two weeks. He wanted to turn down the job, according to those who were close to him. The rumour was that he had actually turned down the job. For weeks, David Atte, a deputy comptroller-general, held the fort to fill the vacuum left by Abdullahi Dikko Inde’s retirement. Rumours that Ali had rejected the appointment were not helped by his refusal to make public comments or report for duty. It took the intervention of many top APC politicians from the north to sway the former military administrator of Kaduna state.

To persuade the reluctant Ali, they told him how NCS was one of the most corrupt government agencies in the world. Ali hates the word “corruption”. Any assignment to tackle corruption would get him excited any day. As a military administrator in a very corrupt system, he had the distinction of riding the same weather-beaten car for 10 years after leaving office. This is not a typical Nigerian story. Maybe that was what Buhari saw in him and decided to saddle him with the customs job. It was one of those appointments in the early days of this government that made people think “change” was for real.

As icing on the cake, a senator from the north-east explained to Ali that NCS was one of the biggest revenue-generating agencies. The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is the king in the ring. Then the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS). And the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC). And the Nigeria Customs Service. “If you clean up customs,” the senator reportedly told him, “then you are cleaning up Nigeria… Nigerians will feel the impact instantly.” He was promised a team of experts and consultants to guide him through this strange territory — to help him navigate the intricacies in a dirty world laden with explosives and mafias. He then changed his mind.

What Ali was not told, I presume, is that it would be lovely for him to wear the jersey. You are the No. 1 customs officer in Nigeria, you enjoy all the powers and perks of office, you make all the policy pronouncements, you do and undo — and then claim that because you retired as a military officer, you cannot wear the uniform. You retired as a colonel, yet a man who retired as a major general, Anthony Hananiya — by far your senior — wore the uniform of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) as corps marshal under a military regime. The least demand you can make of a CG is to show that he is proud of the jersey. It doesn’t look that complicated in my view.

The uniform saga, unfortunately, has beclouded the real issue: Ali’s directive that all motorists must produce evidence of import duty paid on cars bought before 2015. This is certainly one of the most repressive directives ever issued by a government agency. There is no country in the world where that happens. It is called import duty for a purpose — it is the importer that has to show evidence that the importation followed due process. If I walk up to a car dealer and buy a car, I am an end user having nothing to do with the importation process. Why compound the woes of Nigerian motorists who are already battling with bad roads and high cost of spare parts?

What in the world was Ali thinking when he came up with this directive? Is it to combat smuggling? Where in the world does customs collect import duty on highways? If you want to combat smuggling, maybe you should pay more attention to your borders. There are more intelligent and brain-tasking ways of doing it in this age and time. The lazy way out is to set a trap for unsuspecting motorists by allowing extortionist customs officers to terrorise them on the highways. The original date of enforcement coincides with Easter — and you can imagine the massive disruption to travel at that particular period. Everything is wrong with the idea.

If this oppressive directive is restored (it has only been temporarily suspended, we were told), then customs will stop you one day and demand the import duty on your mobile phone. It may sound ridiculous, but it is the same principle — the phone was imported and unless you show evidence that you paid import duty, it will be impounded. That is how it starts. Give customs an inch and they will take a yard. They will soon start asking for evidence of import duty on your shirts, shoes and wristwatches. After all, it is not only cars that are smuggled into the country. Why then is  import duty on cars the focus of the directive?

That Ali was not properly prepared for the customs job has been very evident in the way he has been going round in circles. Today, he will announce a ban on the land importation of rice into the country. Tomorrow, he will reverse the ban and set up border posts for payment of duties on imported rice. The day after tomorrow, he will say the ban is restored. These ill-conceived policies make us a laughing stock in the world. It is one thing for the government to say it wants to make doing business in Nigeria “easy” apparently to please the World Bank and international investors, but it is another thing entirely that we flip-flop on policies with relish.

As far as I am concerned, the uniform saga is a complete distraction. The senate has left the real issue of “import duty” and is now more obsessed with “uniform on duty”. If I were Ali, I would wear the uniform to the senate and put the devil to shame. I won’t die because of a “dirty” uniform. I would just go back home and wash myself with warm water and Dettol thereafter. But Ali is so rigid he would not contemplate such a thing. His nickname is “Netanyahu” or “Mr No Compromise” — after the stubborn Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Remember Ali was in the military police. He was provost-marshal of the army at some point. You don’t mess around with him.

Ali’s refusal to wear the CG uniform is nothing but military arrogance. Some (not all) of these military guys think they are superior to every other human being. They used to call us “bloody civilians” when they were in power. The mentality has not changed. That is why a band of soldiers would brutalise a physically challenged man for wearing a “camouflage” and all they got as punishment was a slap on the wrist. Some years ago, soldiers burnt down the police barracks at Ojuelegba, Lagos, and nothing came out of it. They think they can do anything and get away with it. So how on earth can you force a whole retired colonel to wear the uniform of customs? Infra dignitatem!

The real issue, in the final analysis, is Ali’s performance as CG. That is my own worry. He’s fighting corruption in the service quite all right, but as Nigerians now know, fighting corruption is not a substitute for good policies and good governance. Ali keeps getting things wrong, moving from one bad idea to the other. This has the potential to do more damage to the economy. He can wear the CG uniform for all we care and hate corruption perfectly, but the ultimate indicator of his success will be how well he is leading the very important agency in this age and time when the economy needs to stand on strong footing. Is he up to the task? That’s the question.

AND FOUR OTHER THINGS…

MAGU’S TRAVAIL

Let’s be honest — there was relief across Nigeria’s political and financial circles on Wednesday when the senate refused to confirm Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC. The guy has been a pain in their fat necks in the last 14 months, forcing politicians, bankers and military officers to cough out billions of naira and dollars swallowed from the national treasury. Although I quarrel with his preferred style of media trials and concentration on non-APC offenders, he at least bloodied the noses of our erstwhile untouchable elite. But I knew our almighty elite would not sit by and watch Magu continue to mangle them just like that. Revenge.

‘EDITOR’ OSBORNE

Former UK chancellor, George Osborne, has just been appointed editor of the London Evening Standard newspaper on a £200k-a-year package. The Tory MP was at some point touted as a future prime minister until David Cameron lost the Brexit vote in 2016 and resigned, with Osborne also falling on his sword. But that’s not my interest. Osborne was the equivalent of our finance minister and was practically the deputy prime minister. If it were to be Nigeria, he would not step down to take a paid job; rather, he would form “Forum of Former Chancellors” and begin to angle for contracts at federal and state levels, going from state to state to harass governors. Parasites.

‘ENGINEER’ BUKAR

There is this moving story in TheCable on a young man named Babagana Bukar, “The boy who refused to join Boko Haram, says I watched them slaughter my father.” Three things struck me about Bukar’s story. One, he watched his father killed by the insurgents in Rann, Borno state, in 2014 when he was just 14. Two, he refused to join Boko Haram, riding a bicycle all the way to Chad to escape from the killings. Three, he is called “engineer” because of his dexterity in fixing phones despite having not been so trained. That aspect breaks me down emotionally. Only God knows how many future engineers have been cut down by Boko Haram. Pathetic.

TOR TIV THRONE

Recently, 30-year-old man Stephen Nyitse bizarrely went to sit on the revered throne of the Tor Tiv before the coronation of Prof Orchivirigh James Ayatse as the new king. Nyitse was promptly arrested, detained and charged to court by our super efficient police force. Within three days, he was sentenced to four years imprisonment by the highly efficient Justice P. S. Chaha for trespass and impersonation. In addition, Nyitse will be banished from Tivland after his time in prison (banishment in a republic?) Meanwhile, thousands of theft, murder and land cases still languish in courts. Awaiting trial suspects practically grow old in prison. Efficiency.

DSS, Saraki, Melaye And The Senate’s Dirty Slap On Buhari’s Face, By Godwin Onyeacholem

No thanks to the unholy machinations of an unscrupulous cabal in the presidency which formed a satanic partnership with a shamelessly crooked senate, Ibrahim Magu, nominee of President Muhammadu Buhari as substantive Chairman of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), was for the second time denied confirmation for that post by the senate on the strength of the same ill-motivated Department of State Service (DSS) security report that informed the first purported rejection.

It bears repeating that Magu’s first rejection last December drew intense outrage across the country with most Nigerians describing it as the classic case of corruption fighting back. It is equally remarkable that the senators took this action in spite of President Buhari’s letter stating he had received adequate clarification on the issues which informed their decision and craving their indulgence to favourably accept Magu’s re-nomination for the position of Chairman of EFCC so as to “maintain the current momentum and capacity of the EFCC since May 29, 2015.”  But clearly, Buhari’s appeal for a favourable re-consideration of the nominee in view of the vital role of the senate in facilitating the anti-corruption campaign and support for the work of agencies such as the EFCC fell on deaf ears.

Given the signal from the senate since Magu’s first appearance and the receipt of Buhari’s re-nomination letter in January—a body language that brazenly exhibits a preference for corruption—the outcome of a second visit by the EFCC boss was predictable. Clearly, this senate is not on the same page with Buhari on the issue of fighting corruption and would anything not to confirm the man he has chosen to lead the war. Therefore, against the backdrop of what is clearly a dirty slap on Buhari’s face, ironically instigated by the same members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) who are the majority in the senate, Nigerians wait to see whether the president would simply fold his arms and allow well-known integrity-challenged persons define his presidency.

If you belong to that concerned group of citizens who believe like most key officials of government that corrupt persons in Nigeria, among them a good number of politically exposed persons, are doing everything they can to frustrate the current administration in its fight against corruption, you would be easily vindicated if you nail it down to the disgraceful, yet self-seeking manner, the senate handled the confirmation process of Ibrahim Magu.

In the eyes of objective observers, it was shorn of all elements of patriotism and driven purely by vendetta against the person of Magu on the one hand, and the burning desire to derail the anti-corruption war on the other. The strategy seems straightforward: rubbish the second most visible face of anti-corruption, then the road to dismantling the anti-corruption war would have been significantly smoothened.

This is a tight, well-funded plot in which the very wealthy gang of corrupt persons in and out of government and familiar with Magu’s ruthless antecedents are throwing in everything to ensure he does not lead EFCC, especially under an atmosphere that seems uncharacteristically favourable to a vigorous anti-corruption campaign.

To these vampires, the consequence of allowing a pitiless anti-corruption crusader like Magu to lead EFCC is not just dire, but equally suicidal. They have combed everywhere in search of muck to tarnish his image but they could find nothing against him. That is why on Magu’s second appearance for the real screening, this depraved senate was used to re-open the same sinister security report, the only alibi they could hang on to which Buhari comprehensively responded in his letter. A maliciously cooked security report that is not worth more than the piece of paper conveying the annulment of the June 12, 1993 election.

It is a mark of the senators’ malevolent intent that they would not ask themselves why they should not reject the security report because not only was it not addressed to the senate president, it was signed by a subordinate official and not the Director-General of DSS as such weighty document would require. Why would anyone not be justified for accusing the senate of double standard if only a day before Magu surfaced in the chamber the senate had rejected a correspondence sent to it from the Customs just because it was signed by someone else other than Hameed Ali, Comptroller-General of Customs?

And these senators, like Bukola Saraki, Dino Melaye and Abiodun Olujinmi are the ones lecturing us about integrity? No way! Nigerians know enough to tell that of the 109 senators, it will be hard to find three who have half as much integrity as the Magu that they claimed failed an “integrity test”. Whose test? Who told these senators that they are qualified to set any integrity test for anybody? Who among the senators can talk of integrity when they keep thwarting every move to get them to open their books for proper scrutiny? And should the EFCC decide to beam its searchlight on the senate, it is safe bet that more than 90% of the senators would pack their bags and run away to avoid the shame that will trail the putrid revelations.

But who else to blame for all this nonsense but Buhari who seems so clay-footed as not to be ready to take the decisive step of making the point that this presidency belongs to him and that the buck stops on his table. In the face of the ignoble role the DSS played in humiliating him so unambiguously, it is shocking that the DG of that agency is still at his station. For having the guts to deliver to the senate a counter-report when his boss had sent a letter to the senators giving Magu a clean bill of health, a more tuned-in President would have fired Lawal Daura immediately.

There is no other time than now for Buhari to put his feet down. It is disturbing that in spite of its clear majority, the APC seems to be playing the role of opposition in the senate. Otherwise, why should the confirmation of the President’s nominee become so messy as to portray the party as uncoordinated and ill-prepared for leadership.

The frequent remarks of some of his aides pointing to Buhari’s style which they say does not dispose him to interfering in matters outside the presidency will not help his government. In fact, these aides should tell him that that style of non-interference does not serve him and the nation well as it depicts him as one who has not fully grasped the intricacies of democratic governance. The reason he is President is not to monitor the executive branch alone, but to also keep an eye on every area of national life and intervene promptly where necessary.

It is sad that almost two years into his presidency, Buhari keeps leaving the impression that he is not in charge, and that a few of his heavily tainted appointees are actually the ones running the show. What sort of presidency is that? And he is warned. Should this cabal succeed in eventually seeing off Magu as they are hell-bent on doing, Mr. President should know that that will be the end of the fight against corruption, the only visible item on his campaign agenda that he promised to vigorously engage and which made people turn out in large number to vote for his party.

He loses all, if he loses the anti-corruption war. And he loses the anti-corruption war if he allows the likes Lawal Daura, Bukola Saraki and the official clown of the Nigerian senate, Dino Melaye, to determine who becomes the Chairman of EFCC.

Godwin Onyeacholem is a journalist. He can be reached on gonyeacholem@gmail.com

Why Acting Chairmanship Of EFCC Is Illegal, By Sunusi Musa

There is an ongoing debate as to the legality or otherwise of the continuous stay of Ibrahim Mustapha Magu as Acting Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) after the refusal of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to confirm his appointment as requested by President Muhammadu Buhari.

While some are of the view that Magu can continue to act, other (inlucding yours sincerely) views his occupation of the office of the Chairman of EFCC in acting capacity as an aberration to the provision of the Act establishing the EFCC. In other words, this writer is of the opinion that by the provision of the EFCC Act Mr. Magu’s appointment as Acting Chairman of EFCC is illegal, a nullity and of no any legal basis. What I am saying is, to the best of my understanding of the EFCC Act I am unable to find any legal basis upon which Mr. Magu’s appointment as acting Chairman of EFCC can be supported.

The provision of section 2(3) of the EFFC Act vest in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, the power to appoint the Chairman and other members of the EFCC, however, the power of the President to make such appointment is subject to confirmation of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The sub section provide thus; ‘The 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.’ Therefore, the provision presupposes that any person (other than ex-officio) whom the President desire to appoint into the Board of EFCC, the President MUST seek the confirmation of Senate and it is only when the Senate approve the appointment that the power of the President to appoint will become operative.

I have seen the argument being canvassed by those who argue in favour of the legality of Acting Chairmanship of Magu, and with all respect, the argument cannot stand the test of law. The law upon which they base their argument is section 11(1) particularly item (ii) of subparagraph (c) of the Interpretation Act. For clarity purpose, let me quote the provision here;

‘1 Where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any functions, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes-
a …
b …
c power, exercisable in the manner and subject to the limitations and conditions (if any) applicable to the power to appoint,-
(i) to reappoint or reinstate him,
(ii) to appoint a person to act in his place, either generally or in regard to specified functions, during such time as is considered expedient by the authority in whom the power of appointment in question is vested.’

There is no doubt that where an enactment confers power on any person to make appointment, such power also includes the power to appoint another person to act in place of the person so appointed. In other words, in relation to the topic of discussion, any person who has power to appoint Chairman of EFCC, also possesses the power to appoint acting chairman of EFCC. However, it is important to note that power conferred by the above provision of the Interpretation Act, is only in cases where there is no contrary provision in the statute conferring the power to make the appointment. This means that where a statute confers the power to appoint a person in acting capacity in another person, this provision will not apply. Or where the law prohibits appointment in acting capacity, the provision will also not apply.

The question now is, in whom the power to appoint Chairman of EFCC resides? The answer is obvious. The power resides in the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and the person occupying that office today is President Muhammadu Buhari.

But one thing the proponent of the legality of the acting chairmanship of EFCC fails to take into consideration in advancing their argument is subparagraph (c) of the above provision. The paragraph clearly states that the power to appoint is to be exercise in the manner and subject to the limitation and conditions provided by the enabling statute. This therefore means that, in the exercise of the power to appoint Chairman of EFCC pursuant to Section 2(3) of the EFCC act, the President is expected to make the appointment in the manner so prescribed and subject to the limitation and condition (if any) provided there in.

One may ask whether the provision of the EFCC Act empowering the President prescribed the manner he is to make the appointment of EFCC Chairman. Does it prescribed condition to be fulfilled or has it set any limit to the exercise of the power.

There is no doubt the power of the President to appoint EFCC chairman is not absolute one. That power will remain inoperative until when the Senate has given its nod before the power can become active. In other words, the power of the President to appoint chairman of EFCC can only come into force when the Senate confirm the appointment. By this it means, the President has no power to appoint any person to act as chairman of EFCC pending confirmation of his appointment by the Senate. This is because, the ‘appointment’ and ‘confirmation’ thought two different activities but are for all intent and purpose of the legislation inseparable. Without the confirmation, a person cannot perform the function or enjoy the privilege of the office. In other words, the President exercise of his power to appoint Mr. Magu, is just the beginning of a journey into the office of the Chairman of EFCC: a journey that may, or may not, eventually, fructify, depending on whether or not the confirmation of the said appointment, as required by the Senate, is achieved.

This position finds judicial backing in the decision of the Court of Appeal in the case of Oyeyemi & Ors. Vs Owoeye & Anor. (2012) LPERLR-19695. In this case the court examine the extent of the powers of the Governor of Osun State to appoint Chairman and Members of the State Electoral Commission as provided under Section 189 of 1999 Constitution as (amended). The trial Court nullified the appointment of the Chairman and Members of the OSIEC and directed them to vacate their position. This decision was arrived at despite the fact that the OSIEC members were not party to the case before the Court. On Appeal, the disbanded members of the OSIEC argued that they were not given fair hearing because they were not party to the case. The Court of Appeal held that as far as the Constitution is concern, since their appointment was not confirm by the State House of assembly, in the eyes of the law they were not existence hence issue of fair hearing is inapplicable in their case. The court went further to say thus;

‘The section provides that: Except in the case of ex-officio members or where other provisions are made in this Constitution, the Chairman and members of any of the bodies so established shall, subject to the provisions of this Constitution, be appointed by the Governor of the State and the appointment shall be subject to the confirmation by a resolution of the House of Assembly of the State. [italics for emphasis] The implication of section 198 is that, although the Governor has the power to appoint suitable persons for the positions of Chairman, Secretary and Members, respectively, of the executive body in question; such appointments would remain inoperative until they are confirmed by a resolution of the House. In other words, the said appointments would remain inchoate until they receive the imprimatur of the House. The phrase “subject to” is always employed when the draftsman intends that certain provisions shall be conditional upon compliance with certain requirements in the provision referred to. In the context of section 198, the phrase “and the appointment shall be subject to the confirmation by a resolution of the House of Assembly of the State” is intended to subordinate the Governor’s power of appointment to the confirmation of the House. In other words, the endorsement of the House, by way of confirmation by a resolution, is a pre-condition to effectuating the Governor’s appointment.

The above phrase has received so much judicial elucidation that its meaning can no longer be twisted by any form of verbal gymnastics.
In effect, the requirement of the confirmation of the House is a hurdle, deliberately, erected by the Constitution to ensure checks and balances. In this instance, it is intended to afford the House the opportunity of scrutinizing the Governor’s nominees with a view to ensuring that persons so appointed are eligible to occupy the designated positions.’

It is therefore my humble opinion that, in the light of the above position of the Court of Appeal, as far as section 2(3) of the EFFC Act is concern, the power of the President to appoint Chairman of EFCC is ineffective unless it is approved by the Senate. That being the case, item (ii) of subparagraph (c) of the Interpretation Act is inapplicable in the appointment of the Chairman of EFCC.

My position will be understood more, if cognizance is had to section 143 (2) of the 1999 Constitution (as amended) which empowers the President to appoint Ministers subject to confirmation of the Senate. Since that provision has clearly stated when the appointment powers of the President will become effective, that is why the President has never appointed any acting Minister.

The rule of interpretation of law is, nobody should read into any law, what was not expressly stated in the any enactment. And I have checked the EFCC Act, I have not seen where any provision is made as to ‘Acting Chairman’ of the Commission. In fact, section 4 of the EFCC Act, clearly states how vacancy into the office of Chairman and other members of the Board is to be filled. That further put to rest advancing any argument with section 11 of interpretation Act to justify the continuous stay of Mr. Magu. This is because Section 1 of the Interpretation Act clearly states that its provision will only apply where there is no contrary provision in an enactment. Therefore, since the EFCC Act has clearly states who how vacant position is to be filled, section 11 of the Interpretation Act is inapplicable.

And aside provision of the law, does it stand any logic for a person rejected by the confirming authority to sit and chair a Board with members whose appointment is confirmed? I doubt much.
Sunusi Musa Esq. wrote in from Abuja.

DSS/Senate Vs Magu: Case Of Cockroach In Fowl’s Court By Ofonime Honesty 

As far as the Senate’s serial rejection of the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is concerned, I have come to the end of a painful yet convincing conclusion that there is more to it than meets the eye.

Anchoring their decision on a purportedly fresh “security report” sent to the Senate on the late hours of Tuesday, March14, 2017, by the Department of State Security (DSS), the Senators, on Wednesday, March 15, 2017, for the second time running, rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as EFCC Chairman. Their decision comes despite Magu’s exoneration from any wrongdoing by a probe panel headed by the Attorney General of the Federation.

The timing of the submission of the report by the DSS and the characters involved make the puzzle more complicated.

We don’t need Nostradamus to tell us that the Senate/DSS and EFCC are embroiled in a cold war.

To start with the DSS, the frosty relationship with EFCC came to the fore at the outset of the arrest of allegedly corrupt judges in Nigeria. The case falls under the jurisdiction of the EFCC but the DSS refused to tackle the matter in collaboration with the anti-graft agency.

Appearing before the House of Representatives Ad-Hoc Committee investigating the invasion of properties and arrest of the judges by the DSS, Magu, in November 2016, stated unequivocally that the issue under investigation falls under financial crimes, not internal security, adding that DSS has no business raiding and arresting judges.

Magu further revealed that his agency was in the process of investigating some of the judges when the DSS hijacked and went solo with the operation.

The ensuing dust raised by the DSS versus EFCC fisticuff did not settle when President Buhari sent Magu’s name to the Senate for screening as substantive EFCC Chairman.

As highlighted in the second paragraph of this piece, after the first rejection by the Senate, a panel headed by the Attorney General of the Federation exonerated Magu of any wrong doing. Mr. President resubmitted his name to the Senate for screening. Again, DSS sent another unfavourable ‘security report’ which prompted the latest rejection.

Methinks any report indicting enough to prevent Magu’s clearance by the Senate should also be weighty enough to threaten his status as a free citizen. The only punishment should not be the seemingly desperate attempt to prevent him from becoming EFCC Chairman. Magu should be given the chance to defend himself at a proper court. The DSS and Senate should not act as Plaintiffs and Judge in this matter. Why has the DSS not deemed it appropriate to forward same “security report” to the presidency?

Also, a cursory analysis of the Senate which rejected his nomination raises more questions than answers.

Prior to Wednesday’s screening, common sense, parliamentary rules and legal principles mandated that, to avoid conflict of interest, any Senator who has a subsisting case with EFCC, should be rightly exempted from the screening of Magu. It is glaring that in the discharge of his duties as the Acting Chairman of the anti-corruption body, Magu has invariably stepped on toes. Now, the ‘toes’ are kicking his backside. And the ‘toes’ are all out for him even if it warrants committing a legal offense termed CONTEMPT OF COURT.

Human Rights Lawyer, Inibehe Effiong, while lending his voice to the foregoing, screamed his lungs out, calling for the exemption of the Senate President, Bukola Saraki; Minority Leader, Godswill Akpabio; and eight other senators, from participating in the exercise. The Lawyer made reference to a legal suit to that effect.

Barr. Effiong however warned that “Senator Bukola Saraki and his colleagues…should uphold the Rule of Law and stay action on the screening and confirmation hearing of Magu or recuse themselves from same pending the hearing and determination of the suit, which will be coming up on 3 April for further mention, adding that, “doing otherwise will not only be contemptuous of the court but will constitute an attack on the judicial process.”

The foregoing warning fell on deaf ears as Saraki, on Wednesday, presided over plenary wherein Magu’s nomination was again rejected.

Nigeria is where public officials violate the Law without worrying about the consequences. I must say without equivocation that Nigeria’s Senators lack the moral right to disqualify Magu. Mr. Saraki, inspite of weighty evidences of corruption against him, has been rebuffing rife calls for his resignation as Senate President. Same is applicable to roughly 80% of Senators at the Red Chambers. In the real sense, what we have there are ambassadors of impunity, not Senators.

To further drive home my position, Magu narrated his ordeal in the hands of his antagonists. He had this to say on the floor of the Senate: “I was locked longer than necessary. For over ten weeks, I was detained by Police with armed robbers at Area 10…”

Yes, a subterfuge script is being acted. Hypocrisy is the name of the movie. The dramatis personae are taking us for granted. They feel that they can hoodwink us successfully. They are basking in the euphoria of punishing an ambassador of anti-corruption. Of a truth, corruption is fighting back.

These self-acclaimed virgins with prolific history of abortion should watch their back. We are tired of their culture of impunity. Deep within them, they know that Magu is a sheep that pays a visit to a lion’s den.

Dear readers, when fowl is a judge in a case involving another fowl versus a cockroach, only one verdict is feasible.  But must we continue like this?

(Ofonime Honesty is an Uyo based journalist. honestyofonime@yahoo.com 08025286082)

 

Buhari On The March Again By Chukwudi Enekwechi

After spending fifty one days in the United Kingdom for his routine medical check, President Muhammadu Buhari returned to the warm embrace of enthusiastic Nigerians.

Across the country, Nigerians danced, sang songs of joy, made merry and clinked glasses to celebrate the eventual reunion between them and their President.

His absence in the past five weeks had generated a lot of anxiety and conflicting reports, but his intermittent assurances that there was no cause for alarm assuaged the frayed nerves of most Nigerians. Perhaps, what mattered most to Nigerians apart from the quick recovery of Mr. President from his ailment was the guarantee that his absence will not wreck the ship of state.

This concern was equally addressed as the president transmitted an official letter to the Senate handing over the reins of power to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo. This singular act of President Buhari ensured that there was no vacuum in power, while he rested in London. Gladly, the Vice President discharged the responsibilities of the office creditably.

By ensuring that due process was followed during the period he embarked on his trip abroad, President Buhari has further strengthened our democracy and its institutions. He has further given vent to the deepening of rule of law and due process in Nigeria.

Suffice to note, however, that this approach is not new, as he has since 2003 approached the courts, even at the highest level to seek for justice in matters of presidential elections. In all democracies, adherence to the rule of law and obedience to the constitution have always remained the bulwark against impunity, injustice and tyranny.

Since his inauguration, President Buhari has shown leadership by example, and Nigeria will flourish when laws are obeyed by those entrusted with power and responsibilities.

Already his administration has rolled out an ambitious Economic Recovery and Growth plan which will be vigorously implemented over the next four years to enhance economic growth and enable Nigeria exit from the current recession. As a stickler to excellence and the rule of law, it is doubtless that President Muhammadu Buhari will apply the same level of dexterity towards rebuilding the country’s economy.

Going by the numerous policies of his administration, it is obvious that President Buhari is focused on bequeathing a safe country, buoyant economy and rebuilt infrastructure to Nigeria. So far, Nigerians across political divides have offered him unalloyed support in the arduous task of fixing the country.

Though the task remains a daunting one, but if the positive indicators in the economy, fight against corruption, and insurgency are taking into consideration, there is no doubt that the country will soon be out of the woods.

The failure of past administrations to deliver on the dividends of democracy to Nigerians can be attributed to lack of political will, disrespect for the rule of law, impunity and unbridled corruption which pervaded the system.

Therefore, it is a thing of joy that he has returned to the country with better health and more zeal to continue on the path of rescuing the country from the sixteen years of maladministration of the Peoples Democratic Party.

The outpouring of emotions and happiness as President Buhari arrived Nigeria from the United Kingdom was evident on the streets, offices and motor parks especially in Bauchi, Katsina and Kaduna states. In fact the public reactions especially among his ardent followers can only be described as an effusive welcome.

The only way to interpret this level of joy among the people is that they have hinged their hopes for political and economic emancipation on President Muhammadu Buhari.

His decision to immediately hit the ground running as soon as the Senate resumes is also a testimony of his determination to help actualize the hopes and aspirations of Nigerians within the remaining two years and maybe beyond.

From all indications, President Buhari’s administration is already delivering on the ‘change’ he promised Nigerians during the electioneering campaign. In various areas such as agriculture, roads and railway infrastructure, power and other sectors we are beginning to witness significant progress and if the government continues on this trajectory, then Nigerians will have cause to celebrate after his tenure.

Most importantly Nigerians have heaved a sigh of relief as far as the war against terrorism is concerned, and his commitment in eradicating corruption remains unwavering, and the resultant effect is that enough resources will be available to provide for the needs of the people.

Without doubt, there have been teething problems in tackling the basic economic and political problems in the country, yet the president’s resolve in providing focused leadership gives room for optimism and hope.

Chukwudi Enekwechi, Journalist and Politician, writes from Abuja and can be reached via kwechis19@yahoo.com