Vice President Yemi Osinbajo says President Muhammadu Buhari does not see any reason to replace Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
He said the President does not believe the indictment of Magu by the Department of State Services (DSS) is enough ground to bow to the Senate pressure asking Buhari to consider another candidate for the EFCC Chairmanship position.
The Vice stated this while speaking to newsmen at the presidential villa in Abuja
The Senate had on two different occasions rejected Magu’s confirmation as the substantive Chairman of the anti-graft agency based on the DSS report.
In the report, the secret police labeled Magu as corrupt and unfit to head the agency.
Osinbajo said after Buhari heard Magu’s side of the story, he believed him and decided to retain him as the nominee for the job.
The Vice President said: “We should commend the president for not interfering with what the DSS said. The DSS came up with a report and the man who was accused refuted it.
“He explains and gives a reason. When that happened, the president looked at what Magu said and what the DSS wrote and he said ‘I am satisfied with what Magu said’.
“He then decided to retain Magu as the nominee for EFCC. I don’t see any reason why that should be contested. The president has not interfered with what the DSS said. If he wanted to interfere, he would have ordered the DSS to keep quiet. He didn’t do that, but he said ‘I don’t think the DSS report is meritorious enough to withdraw his nomination.’
“The president reserves the right to say, ‘this is who I want’. I’m fully in support of Magu as the EFCC chairman just as the president is.”
Osinbajo pointed that lawmakers in developed nations also reject nominees based on reports.
Using the United States as a case study, he said despite the mounting opposition against the nomination of the attorney-general of the US, Jeff Sessions, he is still serving in the administration of President Donald Trump.
“You see the American example… There are various reports. People come up with all sorts of things. Look at Jeff Sessions (US attorney-general) for instance, there were many reports. Some accused him of being racist, some of this and that, but he is in office today,” he said.
On whether the President has the constitutional right to re-present Magu or not, Osinbajo backed the argument by human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, that Buhari does not need the confirmation of the senate to retain Magu.
“It is up to the senate to make their judgement, and it is up to us say what we want to do. If our candidate is rejected, we can rep-resent him. No law says we can’t rep-resent him. And again, there is the other argument, whether or not we need to present him for confirmation and that’s a compelling argument from Femi Falana.
“His argument is that under the constitution, section 171, and if you look at that section, it talks about the appointments that the president can make. They include appointments of ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies such as the EFCC. In that same section 171, the constitution rightly said that certain appointments must go to the senate such as ministerial and ambassadorial appointments. Those of heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the senate. That’s what the constitution says. But the EFCC act, which of course as you know is inferior, says that EFCC chairman should go to the senate for confirmation.
“I am sure that even a pocket book lawyer knows that when a legislation conflicts with constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails. I agree with Mr Falana that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the senate, but we did so and it was rejected by the senate, but I believe that it can be rep-resented. I don’t think there is anything wrong about the fact that senate has rejected him. Senate has acted in its own wisdom to say ‘No, we don’t want him’, and we can say, ‘This is our candidate… we like the gentleman and we want him to continue,” he said.
Buhari’s decision not to replace Magu has deepened the friction between the legislature and the execution.
In protest of the President’s refusal to replace the Magu, the Senate two weeks ago stopped the confirmation of residents electoral commission (RECs) of the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC).
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