By Henry Umoru
ABUJA- PRESIDENT Muhammadu Buhari has written to the Senate, representing the name of Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu for confirmation as a substantive Executive Chairman.
President Buhari in a letter to the Senate through the Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki and read on the floor of the Senate Tuesday, also asked the Senate to make a u- turn on the Secretary to the government of the Federation, Engr. Babachir Lawal.
Buhari in the letter said that he had thoroughly investigated those allegations as contained in the Department of State Security, DSS report against Magu and the interim report of the Senate Ad- hoc Committee and resolutions of the Senate on Secretary to the government of the Federation, Engr Babachir Lawal.
On Magu, Buhari said that he was convinced that the Acting Chairman of EFCC carries out anti-corruption crusade in line with the vision of the administration, just as he requested for his approval in order to sustain the drive.
“Distinguished Senators, in view of my conviction, there is need to maintain momentum of anti-graft fight, while I urge the Senate to reconsider Ibrahim Magu as substantive EFCC Chairman “, President Buhari said.
According to the letter, Buhari maintained that the report on the SGF which was forwarded to him was lacking substance that was capable of removing the SGF from office.
He argued that only three members of Senate Ad-hoc Committee on Humanitarian Crises in the Northeast signed the report which he said has made it a minor report, just as he said that the report being an interim one should not compel the SGF from office, particularly as serious as SGF office is, adding, “Having gone through the report which emanated from the Senate, I discover it was an interim one and particularly only three members out of nine signed the report.”
“Moreso, Babachir Lawal was not invited by the Senate Ad-hoc Committee which is in tandem with the principle of equity and fair hearing.”
Reacting to the letter, Chairman of the Senate Ad- Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East, Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central, he noted that the presidency lied in the report, however described the letter as a funeral service to the anti- corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari, adding that the presidency fights corruption in the Senate with insecticide, while within the presidency, corruption is fought with deodorant.
According to him, seven out of the nine members of the Committee signed the interim report contrary to the letter by the President that only three members signed, adding that in the listing of members of the Committee, his name was removed even as chairman of the Committee.
It would be recalled that the Senate had on December 15, 2016, rejected the confirmation of acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu as a substantive chairman of the commission following what the upper chambers described as very damming report from the Department of State Security Service, DSS.
According to the Senate, there was no way Magu could be confirmed because of the security report by the DSS as the report was not palatable fir such an exalted position especially during an administration with fight against corruption as its major agenda, just as it asked President Muhammadu Buhari who nominated him to immediately replace him with another name.
The Senate however gave approval for the nomination of four members of the board of the commission, whose names were sent along side that of Magu and they were referred to the Senator Chukwuka Utazi led Senate Committee on Anti- corruption and Financial Crimes.
Addressing Journalists after after a closed-door session by the Senate which lasted about three hours, Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi said that the rejection was based on security reason.
Senator Abdullahi’s statement had read thus, This is an officially statement from the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It’s the statement on confirmation of the nomination of Chairman and members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to inform the general public that based on security reports available to the Senate, the Senate cannot proceed and confirm the nomination of Ibrahim Magu Mustapha as the Executive Chairman of EFCC. Accordingly, the Senate hereby rejects the said nomination and has returned the said nomination to Mr President for further action.
It would also be recalled that Senate had last year, called for the resignation and prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Babachir Lawal, following alleged complicity in the diversion of North east humanitarian funds.
The decision of the Senate was sequel to the presentation of interim report of the Adhoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in the North East, by the Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central.
Presenting the report, Sani said that some of the contracts were awarded to companies belonging to top government officials’ cronies and family members, adding that the committee found out that Rholavision Engineering Limited, a company, with Lawal as Director, for instance, was awarded consultancy contract.
According to Sani, the company’s major role was the removal of invasive plant species in Yobe on March 8, adding, “Although, Lawal resigned the directorship of the said company in September 2016, it is on record that he is a signatory to the accounts of the company.”
Sani further said that aside Lawal’s complicity, the Presidential Initiative on North East (PINE), which carried out the entire procurement activities, contravened laid down rules.