Speaking in a statement forwarded to DAILY POST on Friday, the Lagos lawyer reasoned that the December 14 rejection of Magu by the Senate means that the operations of the EFCC after the Upper Chamber’s decision will be deemed as illegal.
He warned that if the acting EFCC chairman continues in office as acting chairman after Thursday’s development, it would give the impression that Magu has been appointed to do a hatchet job, stressing that his continued stay in office after the rejection would make the EFCC unable to institute court cases or arrest any citizen.
The statement, which averred that President Muhammadu Buhari can find a better replacement for Magu out of the about 180 million Nigerians, reads:
The rejection of Mr Ibrahim Magu by the Senate as the substantive chairman of the EFCC is received with mixed feelings.
First, it reasserts the independence of the Legislative arm of government, which is not bound to accept all proposals and candidates of the executive, hook line and sinker.
Second, it is wrong to build our institutions, especially the anti corruption agencies, around individuals. We should strengthen the institutions rather than the individuals. In this regard, the rejection of Mr Magu should have no impact upon the work of the EFCC, ordinarily. In a country of about 180 million people, the President should shop for a replacement that can perform the job as much or even better than Mr Magu.
Third, the anti corruption agencies, especially the EFCC, need a general overhaul, which can only be achieved through a new man on the saddle. The issues plaguing the EFCC, of disregard for the rule of law, of corruption, abuse of human rights, leading to constant but avoidable deaths of citizens in EFCC custody, obnoxious bail conditions as a means of keeping citizens in custody for longer periods of time, extortion and torture of suspects, are some of the reasons why there is need for a new hand that can overhaul the agency.
Fourth, the senate based its decision on security report, which is now in the public domain and in that regard the senate cannot be faulted.
The issues raised in the report of the DSS in relation to Magu cannot be overlooked, as in similar or less weighty circumstances, the EFCC, under Magu, has preferred criminal charges against such suspects, followed with media blitz. After all, the reason that the Hon Just Ofili Ajumogobia is in court facing trial is for her inability to account for her lavish possessions. If an ex policeman is living in a luxurious N40m apartment and cruising in private jets, he should be put on trial in the dock, as he has done to others.
We cannot have such weighty allegations of corrupt enrichment hanging over a man who is to investigate and prosecute others.
Prior to Mr Magu’s appointment, a serious allegation of corruption was made against his predecessor in office, but we have never heard of any effort made by the EFCC since Magu took over, on that case.
Quite apart from all the above, the utterances of Magu, in relation to presumption of guilt of suspects, are rather uncouth, reckless and unfit for a public officer of his ranking.
Generally, anti corruption agencies require leaders with sound knowledge of law and due process. The tenure of Mr Magu as acting chairman of efcc has been marked with too much controversies, such that it may be necessary to relieve him of such conflicts. Having worked with the efcc in the past, was tried and removed and then brought back in very controversial circumstances, surely it stands to reason that his leadership as substantive chairman, may throw the agency deeper into controversies.
Now I’ve read some opinions suggesting that Mr Magu will remain in acting capacity, despite his rejection by the senate. Once the president has presented a candidate to the senate for confirmation and the candidate has been rejected, such a candidate cannot function in office in acting capacity again, as that would give the impression that Magu was picked for a hatchet job. Also, the Efcc is too sensitive to be headed by a rejected candidate. It would mean simply that the operations of the EFCC have become illegal, after December 14, when the senate rejected Magu.
It can no longer file charges in court or indeed arrest any citizen.
This should be avoided and I urge the President to present another candidate to the senate for confirmation.