The Senate has requested that President Muhammadu Buhari nominate a replacement for the Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, following the rejection of his nomination by the legislature on Wednesday.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly said the rejection had ended Magu’s chairmanship of the EFCC in acting capacity.
Magu, however, denied the allegations against him in the report, saying the DSS never invited him to defend himself, urging the lawmakers to disregard the report.
After all questions had been asked, President of the Senate, Senator Bukola Saraki, who presided over the plenary, asked the Clerk to the Senate to confirm how many letters were received from the DSS.
He said, “Only one letter was received in my office on the 3rd of October, 2016, from the Department of State Services. Only one letter was received. The one of yesterday (Tuesday) was actually sent because a request was made again after the renomination. The one of yesterday, dated 14th March, 2017, was to reaffirm the content of the earlier letter.”
There were reports that the DSS issued two conflicting reports on Magu; one was addressed to the Clerk of the Senate, while the other was sent through the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang, who had refused to comment on the second letter when he was asked by journalists.
The Senate President, thereafter, put Magu’s nomination to voice vote and the nays had it.
Angered by the rejection, former Majority Leader of the Senate, Senator Ali Ndume, raised a point of order, in which he accused the Senate of double standard.
He said, “Yesterday, we got a letter from Nigeria Customs Service, signed by an Assistant Comptroller General (and sent) to the Clerk. We said that was not the right thing to do.
“This letter or report should have been written and signed by the Director-General of the DSS. By the wish of God and nature of democracy, the majority will have their way and the minority will have their say. All I am saying is that there are two letters here.”
Saraki, however, ruled Ndume out of order.
Melaye also moved a motion, saying, “The consequence of the decision of the Senate to reject the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu, I therefore move that the Senate, by resolution, ask the highest public officer in the EFCC to take over the leadership of the EFCC.”
Saraki, in his response, said, “The decision we have taken today is that we have not confirmed Ibrahim Magu as the chairman and, as such, it goes to show that it requires for the President to renominate another candidate. And in the interim, of course, somebody else will have to carry on that exercise.”
Although the Senate did not screen Magu in the first attempt to confirm his nomination on January 25, 2017, the lawmakers had stopped the process based on the DSS report on him, which it said was negative.
Among others, the DSS in the first letter, accused Magu of breaching the EFCC protocol by being in possession of the EFCC documents in his private residence during the chairmanship of Farida Waziri.
The DSS also cited his arrest, detention and suspension by the Nigeria Police. It also made a reference to Magu’s lifestyle, alleging that an individual paid N40m for the EFCC’s boss residence in Abuja.
The Senate, after rejecting Magu’s nomination in January, had communicated the rejection to the President.
But Buhari, in his response to the Senate, said the issues raised on Magu had been clarified and urged the lawmakers to confirm him as Chairman of the EFCC.
Consequently, the Senate discreetly wrote the DSS on March 7, 2017, asking for a new report on Magu.
Magu can’t head EFCC, DSS insists
The DSS replied the Senate on Tuesday, insisting on its earlier report on Magu.
The new letter read, “Your letter, NASS/CS/SA/01/17/08/02, dated 7th March, 2017, requesting security report on the above named nominee, refers.
“The security report being requested on Ibrahim Magu Mustapha, the nominee for the Executive Chairmanship position of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has already been submitted to the Senate via this service’s letter No. SV.114/2 of 3rd October, 2016, containing 14 paragraphs.”
The letter was signed by one F. O. Adams on behalf of the Director-General, DSS.
Reports cannot be ignored—Senators
The lawmakers, who drilled Magu for about two hours during the confirmation hearing for his appointment on Wednesday, insisted that the issues raised by the DSS could not be ignored.
Senator Dino Melaye, after several lawmakers had asked various questions to which Magu responded, recalled that there were two letters from the DSS, which had placed a moral burden on the EFCC boss.
He said, “Mr. Ibrahim Magu, nominee for the position of the chairmanship of the EFCC, having gone through these reports; the first report indicted you but, because of the letter from Mr. President, you are here again. Just yesterday, this report was received from the DSS. Paragraph 14 of that report reads thus: ‘In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.’
“I conclude that there is a case right now in the police station, which you are aware of, where EFCC people raided a particular house and C of Os were taken and those C of Os were found in the market; and police have investigated and two of the C of Os have been returned to the owner.
“Under your watch as EFCC Chairman, do you still think you, after this report and as a result of what has happened to the C of Os of an innocent Nigerian, are qualified to be the Chairman of EFCC or we take you to Golgotha?”
Also, Senator Barnabas Gemade pointed out that there were “three major accusations” in the DSS report, “one which is dealing with security fact and the second one is that one Air Commodore Umar Mohammed secured accommodation for you, and the third one is an issue of integrity.”
He added, “They say that perception is very important and this issue is of integrity. They said Umar, whom I do not personally know, is a dubious personality and this report, therefore, tends to show that your friendship with this Umar Mohammed indicates that your integrity is also in question and you have not responded to that matter. As a senator, who is Umar Mohammed and what is your relationship with him?”
Here is the letter the Department of State Services sent to the Nigerian Senate that made it to deny Ibrahim Magu confirmation as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission:
RE: NOMINATION OF MR IBRAHIM MAGU MUSTAPHA AS EXECUTIVE CHAIRMAN OF ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC) SECURITY REPORT OF THE NOMINEE
August 2008, following a search at his residence during the tenure of Farida WAZIRI (AIG/Rtd) as the commission’s chairman, some sensitive EFCC documents which were not supposed to be at his disposal were discovered. He was subsequently redeployed to the police after days of detention and later suspended from the Force. In December 2010, the Police Service Commission found Magu guilty of “Action prejudicial to state security, withholding of EFCC files, sabotage, unauthorised removal of EFCC files and acts unbecoming of a Police officer,” and awarded him severe reprimand as punishment.
“4. Notwithstanding, sequel to the appointment of Ibrahim Lamorde as Chairman of the EFCC in 2011, he made the return of Magu to the EFCC a top priority. Both men had worked together at the commission when Lamorde served as Head of Operations of the agency. Magu remained a top official of the commission until he was appointed to succeed Lamorde.
“5. Magu is currently occupying a residence rented for N40m, at N20m per annum. This accommodation was not paid for from the commission’s finances but by one Umar Mohammed (Air Commodore/Rtd), a questionable businessman and ally of subject who has subsequently been arrested by this service. For the furnishing of the residence, Mohammed enlisted the Federal Capital Development Authority to award a contract to Africa Energy, a company owned by the same Mohammed to lavishly furnish the residence at the cost of N43m.
“6. Investigations show that the Acting EFCC Chairman regularly embarks on official and private trips through a private carrier, Easyjet, owned by Mohammed. In one of such trips, Magu flew to Maiduguri, alongside Mohammed and the MD of Fidelity Bank, Nnamdi Okonkwo, who was being investigated by the commission over complicity in funds allegedly stolen by the immediate past Petroleum Minister, DiezaniAlison-Madueke.
“7. Furthermore, the EFCC boss has so far maintained a high profile lifestyle. This is exemplified by his preference for First Class air travels. On 24th June, 2016, he flew Emirate Airlines’ First Class to Saudi Arabia to perform the Lesser Hajj at the cost of N2,990,196. This is in spite of Mr. President’s directive to all public servants to fly Economy Class.
“8. Investigation also revealed that Magu parades a twin personality. At one level, he is the czar who has no friends, no favourites and is ready to fight corruption to a standstill. However, with a key friend in the person of Umar Mohammed (Air Commodore/Rtd), a controversial businessman, he has betrayed the confidence reposed in him by the present administration. Whereas Magu portrays himself as very secretive, he has fostered a mutually beneficial relationship with Mohammed who, by his confession, approaches ‘clients’ for possible exploitation, favours and associated returns. This was facilitated with official secrets divulged by Magu and from which dealings he is believed to have been drawing considerable benefits.
“9. This was evidenced by the number of official and classified documents he made available to his associates, especially Mohammed. After a search of Mohammed’s premises, a forged letter of the Office of the Vice President, dated 20th May, 2016, was recovered. The letter was a fictitious investigation report from Vice President to Mr. President, requesting for approval to commence further probe into a matter allegedly involving Hon. Minister of State Petroleum. Attached to the letter were two EFCC letters dated 13th April, 2016, and another 24th March, 2016, addressed to the Vice President being investigation reports on the activities of Emmanuel Kachikwu and his brother Dumebi Kachikwu. Similarly recovered during the search were information on assets and personal details of Kachikwu.
- Also, following the arrest of three former Airforce chiefs by EFCC, namely, Alex Badeh, Umar and Amosu from whom huge sums of money and property were recovered, Umar and Alex Badeh were arraigned in court. It was only after the arrest of Mohammed by this service that the EFCC hurriedly arraigned Amosu. Mohammed later confessed that he never wanted Amosu tried, describing him as his former boss and he saw in MAGU, a willing accomplice.
“11. Furthermore, findings revealed that in a bid to settle some personal scores, subject placed one Stanley Inye Lawson on a Security Watch Action, while in actual fact Lawson was working in the interest of the Federal Government. However, the action was later expunged following the discovery that Lawson was falsely accused by Magu for personal reasons.
“12. The circumstances surrounding Magu’s return to EFCC at the instance of the former chairman, Lamorde, and their close working relationship ever since is a clear indication of his culpability in the allegations of corrupt tendencies of the Lamorde led EFCC.
“13. To cover his tracks, Magu uses only his police cronies to execute operations. This, coupled with discoveries that such police cronies have acquired a lot of landed property, lends credence to the questions about his integrity.
“14. In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test and will eventually constitute a liability to the anti-corruption drive of the present administration.”