*Stories behind the table not told
Senate’s refusal to confirm Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), was a rancorous power-play involving the Senate, the State Security Service and the Presidency.
At a hurriedly arranged press conference Thursday, the spokesperson for the senate, Abdullahi Sabi, announced that Mr. Magu’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari as EFCC chairman had been rejected.
He cited “security report”, and said the president would be informed of the decision.
The Senate refusal belongs to the region of high-wire intrigues. The principal charge against Magu was the allegation that the chief corruption fighter himself is alleged to be tainted himself.
The SSS report pointed against Magu contained a N20 million-a-year rented home and the expensive air transport service he allegedly once enjoyed, at an estimated N2.5 million.
The service involved a private jet belonging to former Air Vice Marshal Mohammed Umar, which transported Mr. Magu from Kano. Mr. Umar, a close friend to the EFCC boss, is facing corruption charges.
The report also noted that Mr. Magu had once been arrested when Farida Waziri headed the EFCC, for stashing official government files at home. EFCC files were also found at Mr. Umar’s home more recently when the property was searched by SSS agents, one source said.
Over and above the SSS report: National Assembly and the Presidency have been in a cat and mouse relationship for sometime. Nigerians will recall the saga of rejecting President Buhari’s appointees to the Nigeria Communication Commission (NCC) involving a former Kwara State House of Assembly Speaker, Yissa Benjamin and the non career Ambassadors.
It was the continuation of the turf war. Two, there is also a reported animosity between between Ibrahim Magu and the SSS Director General, Lawan Daura.
The two pro-Buhari camps are reportedly at war between themselves. In the camp where Magu belongs, it has the National Security Adviser, Mohammed Monguno, a retired Major General, and Mr. Umar, a former member of the presidential panel of military arms procurement.
Whereas, in what now stands as the opposing camp, it has the SSS boss, Mr. Daura, Interior Minister Abdulrahman Dambazau and President Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari.
Our sources said for weeks, both camps lobbied senators for or against the confirmation of Magu. The second camp aggressively pushed the “security report” on Magu to members of the Senate.
While the report had long been received by the leadership of the Senate, it was not distributed to senators, officials said. It was read to Senators on Thursday in the Executive session.
By then, both sides had won fairly good numbers of lawmakers to their camps and the two sides agreed that Magu should neither be confirmed nor rejected as EFCC chairman.
Smart Senators, in order to seemingly wash their hands clean tactically advised the president to be informed of the SSS report and the character of his candidate for the Czarship of the anti-graft agency. They want him to be the ultimate judge to either represent Magu or replace him.
President Buhari fingered: Several of the lawmakers who spoke under screen said, the same SSS Report was addressed to the President himself.
“It is impossible for the president to nominate someone for confirmation and for another of his appointees to write a damning report against the person and send to the senate,” one lawmaker said.
A presidency source said the president was clearly not keen about retaining Magu after reading the report and did not want to withdraw his nomination to avoid offending his hard working Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo.
“Remember it was the vice president who sent the letter for his confirmation to the Senate,” one presidency source said. “This works somehow because people can now blame the Senate.”