Senate Warns Buhari’s Nominees against Assuming Office without Confirmation

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Damilola Oyedele in Abuja

The Senate wednesday cautioned President Muhammadu Buhari’s nominees for head of agencies against assumption of office without its confirz following reports that the nominee for the Executive Secretary of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Mr. Tony Ojukwu, has already resumed in acting capacity.

THISDAY had exclusively reported on Tuesday that the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF), Mr. Abubakar Malami, had facilitated a letter directing the most senior officer, Mrs. Otti Ovravah, who has been acting, to hand over to Ojukwu.

The directive is in contravention of Section 8 of the NHRC Act 2010, which requires the Senate to confirm the appointment of the Executive Secretary of the commission.

But the Senate at the plenary yesterday reminded the nominees that it would not condone any act of illegality.
Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi APC) raised the matter before the lawmakers, describing the action of Malami as an affront to the Senate.

“There have been rumours going round in the last two weeks that the Attorney General of the Federation has affronted and confronted the powers of the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. I was doing my private investigation on this matter and found out that it is true. My position was further reinforced by the publication of THISDAY Newspaper of February 27, 2018,” Melaye said.

“If the AGF, who is supposed to be the custodian of our laws and the chief law enforcer, will flagrantly ask an individual, who has been nominated by Mr. President, but has not been confirmed by the Senate, to go and resume and the person has since resumed and started working, then we are not practising democracy; then we have no regard for the constitution and the rule of law,” Melaye added.

Presiding, Senate President Bukola Saraki reiterated that the nominees must not resume, until they are confirmed by the Senate.

“I thought this matter had been laid to rest because we were very clear on this issue. Once nominees have not been confirmed, they cannot go ahead and resume,” he said.
He further directed the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Human Rights and Legal Matters, to investigate the reports and report back to the plenary.

The Senate and the executive are currently in a cold war over the confirmation of nominees whose agencies are not specifically listed in the 1999 Constitution.

The impasse was as a result of President Muhammadu Buhari’s inaction on the Senate’s non-confirmation of the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, who was twice rejected by the upper legislative chamber.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo had said the EFCC was not listed in the constitution, and that the nomination should not have been sent to the Senate in the first instance.

The Senate therefore resolved to suspend confirmation process of the affected nominees pending the legal clarification of Osinbajo’s comment.