SENATE REJECTION: Why Presidency Can’t Save Magu

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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.

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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.

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