- Says it did not get two conflicting reports on EFCC chairman
- Again, Saraki meets Buhari
Tobi Soniyi and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
The Senate tuesday rejected the submission of its Majority Leader, Ali Ndume, that the upper legislative chamber did not reject the confirmation of the acting Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu last week, insisting that Magu stands rejected.
The Senate last Thursday announced that in view of damning Department of State Services’ (DSS) security report on Magu, it could not confirm him as the substantive chairman of EFCC.
But Ndume, while answering questions from State House correspondents when he visited the Presidential Villa on Monday went rogue, stating that the Senate neither rejected Magu, nor did it indict the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, over the alleged mismanagement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) funds as reported by the media.
But the Senate, in a swift reaction to Ndume’s submissions through its spokesman, Sabi Abdullahi, said yesterday that the position on both Magu and Lawal remained unchanged.
He said: “The call to national duty is crucial. So, I am here based on a series of calls and text messages from you about what you thought were conflicting messages.
“It has become critical for the Senate to clarify issues. The Eighth Senate believes in its integrity. We uphold and promote the rule of law, which is the basic thing about our democracy.
“We are committed to doing things differently to stabilise the polity in the collective interest of Nigerians. I would like to make the following clarifications:
“I am holding the votes and proceedings of Thursday. We had two votes and proceedings because we had to go into a joint session to receive President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Our votes and proceedings are the official records of what transpired in the chamber. I briefed you on Thursday to the effect that the Senate announced that in view of security reports we were unable to confirm Magu.
“We then rejected and returned the nomination to Buhari for further action. But media reports emerging especially from interview granted by Senator Ndume meant we have to clarify issues.
“For the record, I am the official spokesman of the Senate and I intend to discharge this with honour and integrity because the sanctity of the institution is crucial to the sustenance of democracy.
“To clarify, I have only one point of reference, which is the votes and proceedings.
“The Senate also deliberated on EFFC with regards to the security report available but referred the other nominees for screening since nothing much was found on them.
“This is the only official position of the Senate. What I say, I say on behalf of the Senate. Nigerians should be guided. There is no ambiguity in what we said.
“The Senate is an institution and we are working with the constitution and whatever rules we use, our powers are drawn from the constitution.
“We also want the media to be guided in the matter because of some misleading news in the public domain.
“Even with respect to SGF, you as journalists can do your proper investigations. The genesis was the motion raised by Senators Kaka Garbai and Ndume, and the Senate decided to take a look at the abuses and the SGF was found to be part of the abuses,” Abdullahi said.
Abdullahi also dismissed the allegation that two contradictory reports were sent to the Senate on Magu by the DSS, arguing that the Senate only received one report through its clerk.
He said the Senate was not aware of any other report allegedly sent to the Presidency’s Liaison Officer, Senator Ita Enang.
Abdullahi also dismissed claims that the report relied upon by the Senate as the basis for Magu’s rejection was not signed, saying the upper chamber would not have taken a decision of that magnitude based on an unsigned report.
He also dismissed the notion that the discordant tunes from the Senate showed that there was a crack in the Senate.
According to him, there was nothing to suggest a crack in the Senate, pointing out that he was only stating that he was the Senate’s spokesman and only what he had said remained the Senate’s official position.
“Truth is sacrosanct. For every line of command, there is a line of communication. For the record, the leader that I know is Saraki and the administrative leader is the clerk to the Senate.
“As a rule, when you have a nominee, a security report should be sent to the Senate. The report we are talking about was sent to the acting clerk of the Senate.
“If you talk about two reports, which one is the second one? I heard that a report was sent to Senator Ita Enang, but I am not holding brief for him. He is a liaison officer and if there is any communication, Senator Saraki or the clerk are in charge.
“It will be unfortunate for anyone to say that the Senate will be subjected to a report sent to the liaison office. This does not undermine his office. He is one of the highest ranking officers. So let us not bring Ita Enang into the line of crossfire.
“It is the prerogative of the Senate and they have exercised that prerogative and we are all guided by processes. If President Buhari is going to resubmit the name for re-nomination, he must come with the necessary reports, either negative or positive.
“As for the report we got, it was signed. The Senate can’t just get a document from anywhere and work with it. Even petitions are signed, let alone a serious matter like this.
“The Senate leader is the Senate leader but I am the spokesman. He can’t do my job and I can’t do his job. He is my leader but we have different responsibilities.
“If occasioned by what he said, people are reading meanings from it, I am here to clarify the issues.
“Moreover, Nigerians are looking to all of us to take them out of the recession, so the media should also be guided to create a conducive environment for the leadership to avoid tensions,” Abdullahi added.
Abdullahi’s briefing came just as President Muhammadu Buhari tuesday met with Senate President Bukola Saraki at the State House, Abuja, behind closed doors.
Saraki spent about 50 minutes in the president’s office but did not speak with State House correspondents after the meeting.
It was not clear if the Senate’s refusal to confirm Magu or the corruption allegations against Lawal were discussed