The Senate declined confirming Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) twice in three months.
Magu was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari as acting chairman of the EFCC on November 9, 2015 and in June 2016, he wrote a letter to the Senate seeking the confirmation of Magu as the substantive chairman of the anti-graft agency.
In December 2016, the Senate rejected Magu’s nomination, based on a damning report by the Department of State Services (DSS), which is also an agency of the federal government.
In January, Buhari re-nominated Ibrahim Magu for confirmation saying he had been briefed on the security report by the DSS.
On Wednesday, March 15, the Senate once again rejected Magu’s confirmation based on a status report by the DSS that indicted Magu as “a liability to the anti-corruption fight of the present administration.”
Now that Magu has been rejected for the second time, these are what may likely happen.
1. Buhari may ignore the Senate
After rejecting Magu, the Senate requested that the president nominate a replacement for him. The president is yet to react to the recent rejection. They said to re-nominate Magu for a third time would amount to undermining the DSS and portraying the agency as incompetent, incapable of doing its job, and rubbishing the institution. According to Femi Adesina, the presidential spokesman, the presidency will respond to the legislature’s rejection of Magu as EFCC boss after it receives official communication in writing from the Senate. Buhari may just decide to ignore the Senate and allow Magu continue as the acting EFCC boss.
2. Magu will continue in acting capacity
The rejection of Magu as substantive EFCC chairman does not stop him from continuing to be acting chairman. The Senate can only refuse to confirm him but they cannot stop Buhari from appointing an acting chairman. It has not removed his powers to investigate or prosecute alleged corrupt people. Magu’s power still remains intact as acting chairman unless President Buhari says otherwise.
3. Rift between the EFCC and DSS
There have been speculations of inter-agency rivalry between the DSS and the EFCC. The rivalry between both security agencies came to the fore after reports insinuated that the minister of justice and Attorney General of the Federation Abubakar Malami forwarded files of the seven Justices suspected of judicial corruption to the DSS instead of the EFCC because he was not happy with the selective manner the anti-graft agency handled previous petitions sent to it.
Should the EFCC decide to retaliate against the report of the DSS, things will get messier and the public may lose confidence in their ability to perform their duties.
4. APC may run into internal crisis
While some senators belonging to the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) are in support of Magu’s rejection, others want him to be confirmed. Ali Ndume who expressed his dissatisfaction with the decision, accused the Senate of double standard. Recall that Ndume was removed as the majority leader of the Senate in January and according to him, it was because the Senate did not follow the proper procedure before rejecting Magu’s nomination.
5. Legislative and executive clash
Apparently, President Buhari is determined to have Magu lead the anti-corruption campaign which is why he nominated and renominated him after he was rejected. The presidency will not be happy that the legislature rejected Magu for a second time and this may pitch the executive against the legislature.
6. Corruption war might gather more steam
For rejecting him, Magu may just get fiercer with the anti-corruption war. Since he came on board, the EFCC has recovered a lot of funds and many prominent Nigerians who were untouchable have been arrested. Magu may decide to go after more corrupt lawmakers including those belonging to the APC who have been left out of the corruption war.
7. Danger for the anti-corruption war
President Buhari’s administration is committed to fighting corruption and the EFCC has moved from being a toothless bulldog to being a bulldog that can bark and bite. If Buhari decides to nominate another person who is not as fierce as Magu, the anti-graft agency may just go back to the days when it could only bark and not bite and this will not be good for the country and this administration’s anti-corruption war.
Magu’s rejection is the topic on most lips. Some Nigerians are wondering if President Buhari is truly in charge.
Meanwhile, human rights lawyer, Femi Falana (SAN), said the Senate ridiculed the office of President Buhari by rejecting to confirm Magu as EFCC chairman.
In the video below, some Nigerians are of the opinion that Buhari is the general overseer of corruption.