- Court hears suit against nominee on Feb. 13
Davidson Iriekpen in Lagos and Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari has resubmitted the name of Mr. Ibrahim Magu to the Senate for confirmation as Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The letter containing the president’s request, according to THISDAY check, was delivered to the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, on Sunday night, five weeks after the upper chamber of the National Assembly rejected Magu’s confirmation because of an adverse security report from the State Security Services (SSS).
The Senate president is expected to read the presidential communication at plenary today even as a Federal High Court, sitting in Lagos has fixed February 13, 2017 as hearing date for a suit challenging the propriety of Magu’s discharge of the function of the office of the commission’s chairman without Senate’s confirmation.
Magu had been functioning as the acting chairman of the commission since 2015. And the Senate declined last December 15 to confirm him because of the DSS report, which indicted him for corruption.
Following Senate’s rejection of his nomination and indictment, the president directed the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), to investigate the allegations against Magu. He submitted his report two weeks ago.
But a lawyer and rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, went to court asking that Magu be restrained from parading himself as acting chairman of the commission until he is confirmed by the Senate.
THISDAY learnt yesterday that the president addressed a fresh letter to Senate President Saraki on Sunday night, asking the upper legislative chamber to reconfirm Magu’s appointment as the substantive EFCC chairman.
Buhari’s decision to re-submit Magu’s name for Senate’s confirmation followed the outcome of Malami’s investigation, which apparently absolved him of any wrong doing as claimed by the SSS.
THISDAY also learnt yesterday that the president equally sent another letter to Senate president on his position over the Senate’s call for the sack and prosecution of the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Babachir David Lawal, on December 14, 2016, over allegations of mismanagement and diversion of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) funds in the North-east.
However, THISDAY’s efforts to have a glance at the content of the letter did not yield any fruitful result yesterday as the two letters were closely guarded by the Senate president.
But it was learnt that both letters would be read on the floor of the Senate this morning. However, there appears to be a mystery surrounding the way and manner the president’s two requests for Magu’s confirmation arrived as the second letter came the same way the first arrived.
The president’s first letter seeking Magu’s confirmation was sent to the Senate in June last year when Buhari was on a 10-day medical vacation to the United Kingdom. The letter was sent by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo while acting as President at the time. The second letter coming barely seven months after, was also sent by the Vice President when the president proceeded on another 10-day medical vacation to the United Kingdom.
While the situations seemed to have been deliberately planned to work that way, some would argue that they were nothing but mere coincidence.
The Senate had on December 15, 2016, announced the rejection of the president’s request for Magu’s confirmation, after about two hours of closed-door meeting, citing damning security report by the DSS which indicted Magu for massive corruption.
Senate’s spokesman, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, said in view of the situation, the Senate had returned the president’s confirmation request to him with the expectation that he would send another name. Hence, it is expected that the president’s decision to re-submit Magu’s name will come as a rude shock to the senators today.
Abdullahi had said: “This is an official statement from the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It’s the statement on confirmation of the nomination of chairman and members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
“The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to inform the general public that based on security reports available to the Senate, the Senate 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.”
In the 15-paragraph letter, DSS said an investigation conducted on Magu showed that in August 2008, following a search at his residence during the tenure of Mrs. Farida Waziri as the EFCC Chairman, some sensitive documents that were not supposed to be in his possession were found.
The report also said the discovery resulted in his detention and subsequent redeployment from EFCC back to the Nigeria Police after which he was suspended from the Force.
The report further said that in December 2010, Police Service Commission (PSC) found Magu guilty of “acting prejudicial to state security, withholding files, sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a police officer and awarded him severe reprimand and punishment.”
The report further said upon the appointment of the immediate past Chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Lamorde, as EFCC boss, he made the return of Magu, who had earlier worked with him when he was EFCC’s Director of Operations his top priority, a situation it said eventually culminated in his return to EFCC. The letter stated that Magu’s return to EFCC at the instance of Lamorde was an attestation to his culpability in allegations of corrupt practices.
It further disclosed that Magu lives a flamboyant life to the extent of currently occupying a rented apartment costing N40 million at N20 million per annum which it said was not paid for by the EFCC but by a retired Naval officer, Commodore Umar Mohammed, which it described as a questionable businessman who was once arrested by the DSS. Mohammed was said to have lavishly furnished Magu’s residence at the cost of N43 million.
He was also accused of proceeding on official and private trips in a private carrier Easy Jet owned by Mohammed. In one of such trips, he was said to have flown to Maiduguri along with Mohammed and the Managing Director of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was being investigated by the EFCC over complicity in funds allegedly stolen by former Minister of Petroleum, Diezani Allison-Maduke.
As an expression of his flamboyant lifestyle, DSS accused Magu of cultivating the habit of flying first class against the directive of President Muhammadu Buhari. For example, he was said to have once flown first class to Saudi Arabia to perform lesser hajj at the cost of N2.9 million.
The report also alleged that Magu lived dual-faced life, portraying himself as an anti-graft Czar on one hand and yet living a secretive life on the other hand. For instance, he was said to have divulged official secrets to Mohammed in view of the benefits he was deriving from him.
The DSS also said it discovered a number of official documents Magu made available to Mohammed when it searched the latter’s house. One of such letters was said to be forged allegedly from the Office of the Vice President containing the report of a fictitious investigation by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo to the president, requesting for approval to commence a probe into a matter claimed to be involving the Minister of State for Petroleum, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu and his brother, Dumebi Kachikwu.
The report further stated that Magu was fond of covering his shortcomings using police cronies to execute operations coupled with discoveries that such cronies have acquired a lot of landed property for themselves.
While concluding, the report stated: “In the light of the foregoing, Magu failed integrity test and will eventually constitute liability to anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”
However, THISDAY learnt yesterday that whereas a security report ought to ordinarily come from the National Security Adviser (NSA), Baba Gana Monguno, this report was written by DSS on the order of the Director-General of DSS, Lawal Daura.
As the Senate gets set to screen Magu, a Federal High Court in Lagos on Monday fixed February 13 to hear a suit against Ibrahim Magu, challenging his continued posturing as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
In the suit filed on January 16, Adegboruwa is also asking the Senate not to entertain any further request for the confirmation of Magu as Chairman.
The defendants in the suit are the Senate, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the EFCC and Ibrahim Magu.
When the case was mentioned yesterday, Adegboruwa announced appearance for the plaintiff.
On the other hand, there were no representatives for the defendants.
The trial judge, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun consequently, adjourned the suit to February 13 and ordered service of processes on the defendants.
In a 39 paragraphs affidavit deposed to by Adegboruwa, he traced the appointment of Magu back to Nov. 9, 2015, contending that he had been functioning in acting capacity as EFCC Chairman, beyond the six months allowed by law.
Adegboruwa contended in his suit that since the Senate had rejected Magu as substantive chairman of EFCC, he could not thereafter be illegally functioning in acting capacity.
Citing the provisions of section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act, Adegboruwa argued that the section makes confirmation by the Senate, a condition precedent to the appointment of the EFCC chairman.
He argued that since the provision of section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act was activated by forwarding the nomination of Magu to the Senate, he could not defy the decision of the Senate, which rejected him for the substantive appointment.
Adegboruwa stated that notwithstanding the clear decision of the Senate not to confirm Magu, he has continued to parade himself in office as EFCC Chairman.
He said that example of such act was when he met with representatives of the United States Embassy on Jan. 6, 2017, clearly defying the decision of the Senate.
Adegboruwa is therefore, asking the court to restrain the EFCC and all other authorities, from recognizing, treating or in any other manner, dealing with Magu as the Chairman of EFCC, either in acting or substantive capacity.
He also seeks a declaration that given his conduct in office so far, he is not a fit and proper person to function in office as chairman of EFCC.
Consequently, Adegboruwa is asking the court to give an order forthwith directing Magu to vacate and relinquish his office as EFCC Chairman, whether in acting or substantive capacity.
The lawyer also wants the court to declare void, all actions taken by the EFCC under the tenure of Magu, especially charges and information preferred in court.