Power Play Frustrating Magu’s Confirmation As EFCC Chairman By The Senate

By Ikenga Chronicles November 21, 2016

Power Play Frustrating Magu’s Confirmation As EFCC Chairman By The Senate

There is strong indication that the power play between the presidency and the Bukola Saraki-led Red Chamber has stalled the confirmation of the dreaded anti-corruption czar, Ibrahim Magu as Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).

Before his appointment by Buhari as acting head of EFCC, Magu was the head of Economic Governance Unit of the commission. Buhari had appointed Magu acting chairman of EFCC after the removaal of Ibrahim Lamorde on November 9, 2015.

But the Presidency on the 14th of July, 2016, eight months after his appointment, wrote to the Senate, seeking the screening and confirmation of Magu as permanent chairman of EFCC. According to existing Nigerian laws, a public official is not expected to act in office for more than six months without confirmation of appointment.

Ikenga Chronicles learnt that Buhari’s Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari and Secretary to Government of the Federation(SGF) Babachir  Lawal are partly behind the refusal by the Senate to confirm Magu as EFCC chairman.

Not only that, Magu who is perceived to have rumpled some feathers, including that of  Saraki and his Deputy, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, is seen as a naive public officer who did not know when to apply caution. Pundits had wondered why he would pick fights with Saraki and Ekweremadu while confirmation was still pending in the Red Chamber.

His frequent visits to the National Assembly where he meets with the Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, have not yielded any results.

On April 20th, 2016, Magu and Ekweremadu had an altercation, following the decoration of the Deputy Senate President as anti-corruption ambassador of EFCC by its National Assembly liaison officer. Magu had maintained that the award given to Ekweremadu was of no consequence as the officer acted on his own.

Similarly, EFCC under the leadership of Magu was believed to have assisted the Federal Government’s team prosecuting Saraki at the Code of Conduct Tribunal(CCT).

Since July, when the name was read and referred to the Senate committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, the leadership of the Senate has been silent on the confirmation of Magu. The committee saddled with the responsibility of vetting Magu has not submitted its report.

Frequent visits by Magu to the Senate and intense lobbying on his behalf by the presidential liason officer, Senator Ita Enang have not swayed lawmakers.

For Magu, its still a long walk to freedom. It is believed that the EFCC under Magu’s watch is furnishing the Federal Government with materials used in the prosecution of the Senate President.

When confronted during the week on why Magu was yet to be confirmed as EFCC chairman, Senate committee chairman on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Chukwuka Utazi refused to give a straightforward answer. Instead, he said he could not act beyond the powers conferred on his committee.

Even cries and blackmail by anti-corruption groups, have not swayed Senators to make a U-turn and confirm Magu.

In August this year, the Africa Network for Environment and Economic Justice (ANEEJ), begged the Senate to confirm Magu as substantive chairman of the EFCC. Four months after, nothing has changed.

Members of the group, had contended that the security of tenure for the leadership of the anti-corruption agencies saddled with the task of tackling the debilitating effects of corruption is a globally recognized principle for guaranteeing the independence of anti-corruption agencies. It had argued that Magu’s “confirmation as EFCC Chairman without further delay will give the anti-corruption fight the boost it needs to end the culture of impunity and systemic corruption in Nigeria.

In recent days, Saraki has met with Buhari privately at least three times. Though there are speculations, it cannot be immediately ascertained if Magu’s confirmation was part of the discussion.

There are also speculations in some quarters that Magu’s confirmation is also the subject of political horse-trading to exact a guarantee of immunity for some set of politicians, or at most a soft landing.

Even as Magu and his supporters pray that the Senate may soft pedal and confirm him soon, for now, his fate still hangs in the balance.