The Senate has again rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, after the State Security Service reaffirmed its position that the nominee lacks integrity to lead the country’s anti-corruption agency.
Mr. Magu was rejected on Wednesday, after appearance before the Senate for his confirmation hearing during which Dino Melaye raised the SSS report dated March 14.
“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 Mr. Magu had answered to the satisfaction of lawmakers earlier questions he was asked, senators challenged his suitability given the report against him by the SSS.
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.
PREMIUM TIMES had in December reported how the SSS had earlier submitted two contradictory reports, one approving Mr. Magu’s confirmation and the other asking he be rejected.
The Senate had then rejected Mr. Magu’s confirmation based on the latter report.
President Muhammadu Buhari in January resubmitted Mr. Magu’s name to the Senate for confirmation as EFCC chief.
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 Mr. Melaye, he said, “We were fighting corruption together before you came to this house and turned against us.”
Mr. Melaye raised the SSS report after Mr. Magu had answered wide range of questions and it appeared he was going to 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.
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”.
The fresh report was basically reaffirmation of the earlier one, containing same allegations that bother on the nominee’s residence, relationship with Mohammed Umar and past record as head of the EFCC’s economic governance unit.
PREMIUM TIMES had fact-checked the SSS report, and found most of the content to be false.
Earlier before the fresh report was raised, Mr. Magu had absolved himself of culpability in respect of the SSS allegations in the earlier report – though he had wanted to dodge the question that he should defend himself.
“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 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 said after his travail he had been promoted twice.
Also 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.
The fresh report was brought up nevertheless.
Mr. Magu also told the lawmakers he could not specifically give the actual amount the EFCC had recovered to date.
After the questioning, the Senate President put Mr. Magu’s confirmation to a voice vote. Majority of the lawmakers said No to his confirmation and the Senate therefore rejected it.
The presidency will now have to decide the next line of action, either to replace Mr. Magu, re-nominate him again or leave him in acting capacity as EFCC chairman.