Senate again rejects Ibrahim Magu as EFCC Chairman
*Does SSS have any credibility? He asks
*Presidency may have to shop for another candidate or present him for fourth time
By Sandra Onyekwere
Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has for the umpteenth time rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) adopting the State Security Service (SSS) report reaffirming that the nominee lacks integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.
Mr. Magu was rejected on Wednesday, after his well orchestrated media reported appearance before the Senate for his confirmation hearing during which Senator Dino Melaye raised the SSS report dated 14th March.
“In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption stand of the current government,” the SSS report, read by Mr. Melaye, stated.
Although, when asked several questions, Mr. Magu answered to the satisfaction of lawmakers. In his response, Mr. Magu questioned the credibility of the SSS which he said dispatched two reports on him with varying contents same day.
“What do you say about credibility of that agency?” he queried.
The SSS Janus-faced report had one approving Mr. Magu’s confirmation and the other asking he be rejected. The Senate had then rejected Mr. Magu’s confirmation based on one of the two conflicting reports.
On Wednesday, Mr. Magu said he was never invited by the SSS to defend the allegations against him. “There was no fair hearing,” he said.
Facing Senator Melaye, he said, “we were fighting corruption together before you came to this house and turned against us.”
Like an intransigent enemy, Senator Melaye raised the SSS report after Mr. Magu had answered wide range of questions and it appeared he was going to finally scale the Senate hurdle.
As if the Senate was staging a drama already well-rehearsed, the body then moved away from seemingly soft questions, leaving the ground for questions relating to the SSS report.
Senators Barnabas Gemade and Abiodun Olujimi, among others, asked Mr. Magu to defend his suitability and explain why he should be confirmed after “all these allegations”.
Earlier before the fresh report was raised, Mr. Magu had absolved himself of culpability in respect of the SSS allegations in the earlier report.
“I would answer but I don’t want to say something that will cause bad relationship between sister agencies,” said Mr. Magu, explaining he had responded to the allegations in writing.
However, Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, insisted he must answer “so that we will be guided”.
Then, Mr. Magu said it was true he was reprimanded and detained after official documents were found with him outside office. “If you don’t carry official files (to your house), you can’t do the work,” said Mr. Magu, explaining the nature of his work, heading “two offices” at the time.
He told the Senators that after his said travail he had been promoted twice.
On the allegation that he resides in a house rented for him by Mohammed Umar, a retired air commodore accused of corrupt practices, Mr. Magu said “that’s not true”.
He said his official residence at Maitama was rented for him by the FCT authorities for ease of his work, following intervention of an undisclosed senior official in the presidency.
“I was not part of the process and I don’t know how much was paid. I don’t even know when the rent started or will expire,” he said.
After the questioning, the Senate President put Mr. Magu’s confirmation to a voice vote. Majority of the lawmakers said “nay” to his confirmation and the Senate therefore rejected it.
It would be recalled that President Muhammadu Buhari had late last year submitted the name of Mr. Magu to the Senate, for confirmation as substantive Chairman of EFCC, having served in acting capacity since November 2015.
President Buhari, however, re-submitted Magu’s name on the 23rd of January, 2017, after consulting with the leadership of the Senate.
A mild drama however, turned out when the Senator representing Kogi West, Dino Melaye, drew the attention of the Senate to a security report submitted to the office of the Clerk on Tuesday, 14th March 2017.
Paragraph 14 of the said report reads in part: “In the forgoing, MAGU has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti graft agency”.
The letter which emanated from the office of the Department of State Security (DSS), was however faulted by Magu and some Senators.