Details emerged yesterday of behind-the-scene scheming and horse-trading which led to the Senate’s refusal to confirm Mr. Ibrahim Magu Mustapha as the substantive Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), The Authority report.
Facts gathered by The AUTHORITY showed that Magu went beyond his beat as the anti-graft czar, to dabbling into the politics of 2019 – with an eye on the Presidency.
His action allegedly offended both President Muhammadu Buhari and the cabal in Aso Rock, who have their separate political agenda for 2019.
Besides, Magu, who many Nigerians see as helping President Buhari to “kill” corruption, was indicted by a report by the Department of Security Services (DSS), which showed that the acting EFCC boss did nothing when some of his friends hid their undeclared assets.
The AUTHORITY learnt that Magu’s case was compounded by one of his friends who have been marketing Magu, both within Nigeria and abroad, as the only clean appointee that could succeed the incumbent President Buhari.
The friend reportedly told those who cared to listen that Magu was the only “anointed” one among Buhari’s appointees to occupy the Presidency in 2019 – assuming President Buhari does not run for re-election.
Against this backdrop, The AUTHORITY learnt that “Magu’s cup is already full and the Presidency would not save him.”
President Buhari had in July this year forwarded to the Senate, for confirmation, the names of Magu and four others via a letter read on the floor of the Senate.
However, the Upper House on Thursday broke its five-month silence on the screening and confirmation of Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC when it said that security report had shown that he was unfit for the office.
Pointers that Magu would not have a smooth sail in the Senate emerged last Thursday when the lawmakers failed to discuss his confirmation. Security men and aides who came to the National Assembly for the screening started leaving the premises when it was clear that he would not be confirmed on that fateful day.
The Deputy Senate Leader, Bala Ibn Na’Allah, later told journalists that although Magu was billed to be screened that day, the exercise could not go ahead because some Senators who were on oversight assignments to different parts of the country had indicated their interests to participate in the exercise.
He said that the leadership of the Red Chamber had decided to reschedule the exercise to yesterday, a day after President Buhari had presented the 2017 Budget to a joint session of the National Assembly.
When the Senate resumed sitting yesterday, it dashed Magu’s hopes and referred the other nominees: Nda Sule Moses (member), Lawan Mamman (member), Galadanci Imam (member) and Adeleke Rafiu (member) to its Anti-Graft Committee for screening.
After a two-hour closed-door meeting, the spokesman of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi, announced to journalists the rejection of Magu for the position of the EFCC Chairman.
He said the Senate’s action was based on compelling security reports. Addressing journalists on the Senate resolution, Abdullahi, who read a statement from the leadership of the Upper House, said Magu’s rejection was based on security reports.
He said: “The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to inform the public that based on security report available to the Senate, it cannot proceed and confirm the nomination of Ibrahim Magu Mustapha as the Executive Chairman of EFCC.
“Accordingly, the Senate hereby rejects the said nomination and has returned the said nomination to Mr. President for further action.”
After the closed-door meeting, the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, who reaffirmed the rejection of Magu for the EFCC plum job, directed the Senate Committee on Anti-corruption to screen the other members of the commission without further delay.
The AUTHORITY further learnt that the investigation of Magu was coordinated by the office of the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo.
The findings allegedly generated a lot of controversy in the State House. Sources said that both the DSS and top officials of the Presidency were not comfortable with the report and Magu’s confirmation as the substantive Executive Chairman of the EFCC.
The Presidency may have to look elsewhere to find another nominee for the EFCC top job.