By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA – Former President of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Joseph Daudu, SAN, has faulted the continued stay in office of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, after rejection of his nomination by the Senate.
Daudu, SAN, who is the national co-ordinator of Rule of Law Development Foundation, argued that the rejection by the Senate of the nomination of Magu by President Muhammadu Buhari as substantive Chairman of the anti-graft agency, “automatically ended his role within the EFCC”.
According to him, the formal nomination of Magu to the office of Chairman of the EFCC by President Buhari automatically nullified his position as Acting Chairman of the Commission immediately he was rejected as a nominee for the Chairmanship.
The ex-NBA President, via a press statement he issued on behalf of the Foundation on Wednesday, stressed that section 2(3) of the EFCC Act was triggered at the point President Buhari’s nomination letter was transmitted to the Senate.
He said: “On Thursday December 15, 2016, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held an executive session during which it rejected the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC by President Muhammadu Buhari based on an adverse ‘security report’ authorised by the State Security Service, (SSS).
“This was after extensive hearing at Committee stage. Unsurprisingly, this action generate debate within the country centred around the question of what the status of Mr. Magu is and whether the rejection by the Senate does not have any legal effect on his status as Ag. Chairman?
“The statutory provision for the appointment of the EFCC Chairman is found in section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act Cap. E17 LFN, 2004 which states: ‘The chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate’.
“There is no doubt that the appointment of the EFCC Chairman is not only within the purview of the President but is subject to the confirmation of the Senate. What this mean is that the rejection by the Senate of the nomination of Mr. Magu automatically ends his role within the EFCC.
“In its rejection of the nomination the Senate Committee held that ; ‘The nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu is hereby rejected and has been returned to the President for further action’.
“What this statement suggests is that the next step as to the future of the EFCC is left to the discretion of the President, he can of course choose to re-nominate Mr Magu for confirmation or go for a different nominee for the position. What are those next steps especially as it relates to Mr. Magu and his possible position at the EFCC?
“Eminent commentators such as Prof. Sagay have argued that the President should ignore decision of the Senate. At the point this letter was received by the Senate, section 2(3) of the EFCC Act was triggered and there is therefore no lacuna for any law including the Interpretation Act to correct.
“The process of the appointment is in two stages, nomination and confirmation. They are handled by separate arms of government. One arm cannot dictate supremacy to th other as that will amount to brazen infraction of the constitution.
“The suggestion by some professorial delinquents that the President should ride roughshod over the will of the Senate amounts to gross irresponsibility and anarchistic in outlook.
“Persons who have nothing useful to contribute to the future of this potentially great country should hold their peace rather than creating Constitutional confusion and anarchy.
“Finally, on this point, it is important to reiterate that our constitution is built on the principles of the Separation of Powers. It is the hallmark of checks and balances specifically enacted to prevent dictatorship and impunity.
“Every leader must embrace its limitations else we stand the risk as a nation to slide into chaos and confusion.
“President Buhari must consider the Magu experiment as a failure and treat the file as closed. There are better materials in the system that can run the EFCC within the ambit of the Rule of Law and make a success story of the establishment.
“The way corruption is fought is more important than the fight against corruption itself. If corruption is fought with wicked, impure, callous and sadistic measures or procedures, we run the risk of creating tin-gods and the fight itself will be in breach of citizen’s fundamental rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution”.