Despite NASS opposition, Magu remains EFCC Chairman – Lawyers

Despite NASS opposition, Magu remains EFCC Chairman – Lawyers
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Despite the rejection of his confirmation by the Senate, Ibrahim Magu remains the head of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, lawyers have said.

The Nigerian Senate on Thursday refused to confirm Mr. Magu as EFCC Chairman, based on “security report.”

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The Senate did not clarify what the security report contained amidst allegations the anti-graft chief was being victimised by senators who are either being prosecuted or investigated for corruption.

Despite the Senate’s action, however, lawyers say Mr. Magu will still continue in his position as acting EFCC chairman unless removed by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The lawyers also said the president can choose to resubmit Mr. Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation

“He’s still in (office in) acting capacity,” Akinolu Kehinde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, said.

“The matter on ground is to confirm him. If the president feels strongly about his appointment, he will represent his name again for confirmation.

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“However, the law does not say that any appointment from the presidency must be approved, there are parameters to be met and the Senate must have a tangible reason for rejecting him”, Mr. Kehinde added.

For Chidi Odinkalu, the former head of Nigeria’s human rights commission, there are two options available to President Buhari.
Prof Chidi Odinkalu
Prof Chidi Odinkalu

“There are only two options here: persuade the Senate to change its mind and give Mr. Magu a second vote or withdraw the nomination and nominate someone else,” the lawyer said.

“My suspicion is even preceding either steps, the president needs to win allies for his idea of fighting corruption, articulate a clear strategy and persuade the country along. Democracy abhors supermen,” Mr. Odinkalu added.

Another lawyer, Nzube Akunne, stated that “if such situation arises, the president may have to resubmit the name back to them for confirmation; by the time the president presents it three times and it’s being rejected, he can go ahead and appoint him.”

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“It’s the president that appoints, it’s his prerogative power. confirmation is just a procedural issue. By the law, he still remains the acting chairman till the president makes his next move,” Mr. Akunne said.

Also, a law professor and chairman of presidential advisory committee on corruption, Itse Sagay, said Mr. Magu would remain in office whether or not he is confirmed by the Senate.

“Whether they like it or not, he (Magu) will be there. His chairmanship will keep on being renewed,” Mr. Sagay said in an interview with The Interview magazine.

“Since Nuhu Ribadu left, we have not had a man with such sterling qualities as Ibrahim Magu and whether they like it or not, Magu will be there until he completes his term under the law.”

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EFCC chairpersons are appointed for a four-year renewable term.

The Senate’s rejection of Mr. Magu’s nomination marked the end of months of delay to act on President Muhammadu Buhari’s request.

The Presidency requested the Senate to confirm Mr. Magu’s nomination in July through a letter signed by Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo in his capacity as the acting president when Mr. Buhari was away on a medical trip.

Mr. Magu’s rejection by the Senate is considered a slap on the president who has touted anti-corruption campaign and recovered looted funds as one of the major achievements of his administration.

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