Buhari keeps lobbyists in suspense as battle for EFCC top job steps up
The intense lobbying for the chairmanship of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has heightened since the return of President Muhammadu Buhari from his private time in London.
Lobbyists seeking to get their nominee to replace acting EFCC Chairman Ibrahim Magu, have recommended two Commissioners of Police (CPs) for the position.
Some governors are also said to be among those against Magu’s substantive appointment.
President Buhari is, however, keeping his decision on Magu to his chest while his body language is giving sleepless nights to the arrowheads behind the plot to remove Magu.
But Buhari may have to take a decision on Magu on or before December 4 when the Federal High Court in Abuja will deliver judgement on the consolidated suits challenging the continued stay of Magu.
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If President Buhari decides Magu’s fate before December 4, he would have beaten the court to it and make the judgment an academic exercise.
Magu was appointed by President Buhari on November 9, 2015. But the Eighth Senate under former Senate President Bukola Saraki twice declined to confirm his nomination.
A source confided to our correspondent that influential individuals have brought the names of the two CPs (names withheld) to the Villa on many occasions for the President’s consideration.
The source said: “It is an open secret in the Villa that those against Magu have not relented. They took the two CPs to an Emir, asking him to prevail on the President to choose one of them as Magu’s replacement.
“But the royal father declined and politely told them to take the gentlemen to the President themselves since they also have access to him.
“But the President is taking his time on the matter. He is not unmindful of the stellar performance of the EFCC under the watch of Magu in terms of remarkable convictions and recoveries of stolen assets.”
It was also gathered that some governors and lawmakers are not happy with the idea of Buhari re-presenting Magu for confirmation.
They alleged that Magu “does not weigh political implications of some of the investigations being conducted by the EFCC.”
These governors and senators from the ruling APC and opposition PDP were said to be uncomfortable with the retention of Magu on the grounds that the anti-corruption czar would move against them once his confirmation process is concluded.
The senators were said to be apprehensive of Magu’s incorruptible stance on corruption matters. A governor, who spoke in confidence, said: “There is no doubt about it, the acting chairman of EFCC has done well, but the problem with Magu is that he does not appreciate that he is working in a political environment.
“If there are delicate issues at hand, Magu proves difficult. Fighting corruption in an environment like this requires some tact and diplomacy.
“The EFCC chairman has not been sparing those who are even making a strong case for his substantive appointment.”
But some stakeholders have argued that there is the need for Buhari to forward Magu’s name without further delay.
They also insisted that the retention of Magu would enable him to complete certain sensitive cases for the benefit of the country.
It was gathered that Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu of the Federal High Court in Abuja will rule on the suits against Magu before her on Dec 4.
The judgment will be on consolidated suits challenging Magu’s stay in office in acting capacity.
Justice Ojukwu adjourned to decide Magu’s fate after the court heard and adopted final briefs of argument in five separate suits bordering on the legality or otherwise of his tentative leadership of the anti-graft agency.
Whereas four of the suits that came up for hearing prayed the court to declare Magu’s stay in office as illegal since his nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari was twice rejected by the Senate, the fifth suit urged the court to hold that he could validly remain as the Acting Head of the agency despite Senate’s decision against him.
Defendants in the case are President Buhari, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Senate, as well as Magu and the EFCC.
Though a total of 12 legal actions were filed before the court after President Buhari gave Magu the nod to remain in office, notwithstanding the rejection of his nomination, seven of them were subsequently struck out for want of diligent prosecution.
The court in 2017 consolidated all the suits, based on a joint application that was filed by President Buhari and the AGF.
Sections 2 and 3 of the EFCC (Establishment Act) 2004 on the composition of EFCC and appointment of chairman read in part: 2: (l) The Commission shall have a chairman who shall be the Chief Executive and Accounting Officer of the Commission, who should be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent, among other conditions.