EXCLUSIVE: Why SSS wrote separate reports to Presidency, Senate on Magu

SSS operatives
SSS operatives

The actual trigger for the State Security Service (SSS) to have written the report upon which the Senate rejected Ibrahim Magu’s nomination for the top job at the anti-graft EFCC has been uncovered.

At a hurriedly arranged press conference about the same time the Senate was ending a closed-door session on Thursday, the spokesperson for the Senate, Abdullahi Sabi, announced that Mr. Magu’s nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari as EFCC chairman had been rejected. He cited “available security report” for the rejection.

On Monday, the Senate Leader, Ali Ndume, claimed the Senate  did not reject Mr. Magu’s nomination but only suspended discussions on the matter until the SSS’ concerns are resolved.

PREMIUM TIMES’ ongoing investigation into the procedural issues involved in the handling of Mr. Magu’s nomination showed the State Security Service actually turned in two reports on Mr. Magu. Both, though signed by one official, Folashade Ojo, on behalf of the Director General, Lawal Daura, are contradictory, having different conclusions. 

Reasons the SSS acted the way it did – directly sending a report to the Senate to block a presidential nominee – have remained unanswered.

Nigerian Senate
Nigerian Senate

PREMIUM TIMES investigations, however, reveal that the SSS acted only after it received requests from both the presidency and the Senate to vet Mr. Magu.

The Presidency, through Mr. Buhari’s senior special assistant on National Assembly, Ita Enang, made the request that Mr. Magu be vetted via an August 26 letter SSAP/NASS/SEN/I67 to the SSS.

The Senate’s version went to the SSS through its Clerk on September 21 via letter NASS/CS/SA/01/16/08/1.

While the Senate sought vetting of Mr. Magu and other nominees for the EFCC Board, the presidency asked that only Mr. Magu be screened.

Incidentally, the SSS replied both the Senate and the Presidency on October 3 with separate reports SV.114/2 and SV.114/3 respectively.

A review of how the Presidency, the Senate and the SSS handled Mr. Magu’s nomination revealed procedural lapses and questions the capacity of Nigeria’s secret police to gather factual information about subjects under investigation.

VIOLATING PROCEDURE

The Presidency made the request for Mr. Magu’s confirmation in July through a letter signed by Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo in his capacity as acting president when Mr. Buhari travelled abroad for medical treatment.

But it was after one month of seeking the confirmation – and after eight months in acting capacity – that the presidency sought security vetting  for Mr. Magu.

EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu
EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

By standard practice, nominees of the president get security clearance before their names are sent to the National Assembly for confirmation.

Since Mr. Magu’s nomination did not come with security clearance, the Senate, whose members, including its President, Bukola Saraki, have at different times been investigated by Mr. Magu, had a window to approach the intelligence agency for security vetting.

However,  the most serious issue arising is the fact that claims made by the SSS in its reports are not factual.

A fact-check by PREMIUM TIMES over the weekend exposed the falsehood in the reports. For instance, our report showed the SSS lied on the claim that Mr. Magu lives in a rented Abuja apartment paid for by a “questionable” business man and retired air commodore Umar Mohammed at the rate of N20 million per annum.

Meanwhile, the two SSS reports gave contradictory conclusions. The one to the Senate advised against Mr. Magu’s confirmation, saying he had failed the integrity test; but the SSS asked the Presidency to give the subject “benefit of doubt and be considered” in view “of his achievements since assumption of office in acting capacity” although his “integrity may be in doubt”.

MUTED PRESIDENCY, SENATE

The Presidency could not be reached to comment for this story. Repeated calls and a text to Femi Adesina, Mr. Buhari’s special adviser on media and publicity, were neither answered nor returned.  His colleague, Garba Shehu, initially promised to get back but did not do so.

The presidential assistant on the Senate through whom the presidency’s request for security vetting was made, Mr. Enang, did not also answer calls or reply our text message.

Similarly, the Senate’s spokesperson, Aliyu Abdullahi, did not answer several calls and a text message.

Photo credit: www.newsflashngr.com
President Muhammadu Buhari
Photo credit: www.newsflashngr.com

 

SENATE DID NO WRONG

A senior lawyer and presidential adviser on anti-corruption campaign, Itse Sagay, said the Senate did no wrong by approaching the SSS for information on Mr. Magu.

“It is not wrong for the legislature to ask an agency for information on somebody under its consideration. You don’t need any power for that,” Mr. Sagay said.

He, however, said the Senate did not act in good faith, saying “the whole thing is stage managed.”

“Senate wants an excuse for turning down the appointment.”

Asked for his comment on our finding that the Presidency sought vetting of Mr. Magu after he had been nominated, Mr. Sagay said, “I don’t know about that. There is no basis for that (SSS) report. The man has held positions before. The whole thing is bogus.

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  • B. Messi

    THE GLARING INCOMPETENCE OF THOSE RUNNING THE COUNTRY AND THE REAL REASON(S) WHY NIGERIA IS IN A HUGE MESS!

    While the Senate sought vetting of Mr. Magu and other nominees for the EFCC Board, the presidency asked that ONLY Mr. Magu be screened.

    But it was after ONE MONTH of seeking the confirmation – and after EIGHT MONTHS in acting capacity – that the presidency sought security vetting  for Mr. Magu.”

    “By standard practice, nominees of the president get security clearance BEFORE their names are sent to the National Assembly for confirmation.”

    Asked for his comment on our finding that the Presidency sought vetting of Mr. Magu after he had been nominated, Mr. Sagay said, “I don’t know about that. There is no basis for that (SSS) report. THE MAN HAS HELD POSITIONS BEFORE. The whole thing is bogus.”

    *THE INCOMPETENCE & INTRIGUES OF BUHARI’S RIGHT HAND MEN WILL/HAS SUNK NIGERIA.

    • Kallah Bature

      I am seriously beginning to have my doubts on the ability of the Presidential Assistant on the Senate to do his job diligently.The incessant embarrassment of the Executive through him MUST stop.The bungled case of Magu’s confirmation is one mistake too many.

      • forestgee

        Errand boy should not be your worry but his masters

  • i.k.c

    We have been saying Premium Times is supporting President Buhari to destroy Nigeria,
    now the truth has come out. See what Premium Times wrote in this story! Premium Times
    said “The Presidency could not be reached to comment for this story”. Can you see?

    Did President Buhari hide in the toilet after the news was released that SSS wrote false reports
    to the Senate to block confirmation of EFCC Chairman, Mr. Magu? How can Premium Times say
    President Buhari cannot be reached again? Even if President Buhari has gone into hiding out of
    shame, how about Vice President Yemi Osinbajo?

    Did Buhari and Osinbajo throw away their phones?
    How come that nobody inside presidential villa can be reached again? But when they were telling lies,
    they could be reached. Can you see it? Premium Times just wants to cover this thing up for Buhari.
    I saw Buhari only yesterday in convoy in Abuja. How can you tell me Buhari i saw cannot be reached?
    No way will i believe that sort of excuse. Go there, jump the fence and enter his bedroom to ask him how
    come he does not know anything about his own government if SSS is doing its governance separately.

    • Julius

      You are either insane or you do not have an ideal of what you are saying. Either way, its rubbish and incoherent.

    • Sir Demo

      What a jejune!

  • share Idea

    PT please keep up your media propaganda. EFCC that is notorious in leaking secret government information to the press does not understand that in democracy when the heat is so much on the leader he/she can sacrifice anybody in order to retain his position.

    Buhari is fighting so many wars and now, he need new allies, and the new allies are demanding some farvours from him. Hence, the drama that is unfolding in presidency. More drama will keep popping up as we approach 2019 election.

    Magu should know that an individual can not fight institutions, it has never happened in any democracy. Magu is a security threat to Buhari and Nigeria. If he has been fighting corruption legally, he will not have any problem with some of the cabals that are fighting him. However, in his case, he chooses who to arrest and detain people more than constitutionally allowed.

  • www.electionoffenders.ng

    When Will Nigeria Have Leaders Who Have No Other Agenda Other Than The Progress & Prosperity of Nigeria?

    Since Independence Our Leaders Have Been Focused on Narrow/Personal Interests.

    Whats Best For My Tribe?, Whats Best For My Religion?, Whats Best For My Friends? What Best For My Political Party?, Whats Best For My Village?, What Will Give Me More Money To Steal?, What Will Make Me More Powerful?, What Will Destroy My Enemies?, What Will Stop Me From Facing Justice?? etc.

    In The Next Elections, DUMP all these thieving and vision less leaders.

    Irrespective of party, look for a man or woman with track record of honesty, capability and who have a vision for Nigeria.

    We must chase these corrupt and irrational politicians out of town!

    • forestgee

      Excellent…Sentiments will block or delay implementation of your recommendatation

  • musa Ayo

    …and the quagmire continues till Buhari uses it as an excuse for failing in the anti corruption war!

  • thusspokez

    Reasons the SSS acted the way it did – directly sending a report to the Senate to block a presidential nominee – have remained unanswered.

    This is not only a sackable offence but criminal one too. Folashade Ojo who signed both documents should be indicted by the police.

    Since Mr. Magu’s nomination did not come with security clearance, the Senate, whose members, including its President, Bukola Saraki, have at different times been investigated by Mr. Magu, had a window to approach the intelligence agency for security vetting.

    At the risk of self-referencing, this was the conclusion I made in my comment titled: “Gross unprofessional inner workings of the Buhari government” a day ago on this website.

  • Lukuti

    We are our own enemies. The commentaries here are so irritating. They largely portray a hopeless situation for Nigeria. If being educated only increases level of sentiment and bigotry the future certainly will not be better. I want to state emphatically that I am not in support of many programmes and agendas of this government and neither do I support the style of the anticorruption campaign and handling of many its cases. However, if PT as a newspaper is confidently accusing the SSS of double standard, anomalies, misinformation and conspiracy with nonstop accusations; what stops the SSS from refuting this allegations and what stops the senate from refuting it? Because we are beclouded by sentiment simple logic becomes difficult to discern.

    • Abdulmojeed Nojeemdeen

      Well Spoken

  • thusspokez

    VIOLATING PROCEDURE

    Without making excuses for politicians — most politicians and their appointees have no clue about running anything let alone government –, every country has a civil service to guide the politicians. So, were was the civil service in the president’s office; and what guidance did it give to the team in-charge of the selection process?

    Clearly, the Nigeria’s civil service should accept some blame for the gross unprofessional inner workings of the Buhari government, because it is its responsibility to put the government in straight and narrow; and adhere to due process and operate within the law — which in this case, it has failed to do.

  • Julius

    lol. Naija ooo. Everybody is now a security expert !

  • Benny

    I am beginning to question the ‘Professorship’ of Itse Sagay. So, because a man has held a position unscathed before, exclude him from being tainted tomorrow? This man needs to see his doctor urgently.

    • Sir Demo

      Are u sure, it is not time to go for an examination yourself? What Prof is said that before he was appointed into the previous position a security check was conducted.

      • Factsay

        even at that, if u say that past govts were corrupt, dont u think that same past corrupt govts can corruptly clear unqualified persons?

        There is nothing like u qualified before. If the law requires that someone shud be checked, then he must be checked irrespective of his previous checks. Besides, most allegations against Magu are contemporary issues.

    • Kelly

      I have doubt about that Prof’s sanity, his utterances these days leaves me gasping for breath. I get more confused every time he talks since Buhari gave him this position, I wonder if this is the same Prof. Sagay ??

    • Factsay

      Mr. Sagay’s mentality has been damaged by historical secret corruptions that characterized his life, thus, his assertions exhibit his corrupted mind

  • Factsay

    Mr. Sagay is a disgrace to his profession. Anytime he opens his mouth he exhibits deep rooted corrupted mind and views.

    These are the people that destroyed Nigeria. In his mind, because someone has held office before, it automatically means the person clean. Is he kidding me?!!

    For me, the fact that someone has worked in the past should raise an alarming alert of a potential corruption risk, because our past is known to be corrupt and anybody who has ever served our past military and civilain govts should be seen as a suspect of corruption.

  • Gary

    Mr. Sagay, in his new role as advocate of benevolent dictatorship in Nigeria, is engaging in precisely what PT has spent the better part of three days doing now on behalf of Magu: selectively highlighting facts that favor a preconceived conclusion.
    Then they accuse the SSS of tailoring its reports to please a particular audience. All parties in this instance- PT, Sagay and the SSS- all stand equally guilty of showing no commitment to integrity. And stand accused of trying to influence public opinion rather than the public interest. And that is so shameful.

    Was Magu thoroughly vetted before he was named as acting EFCC Chairman? If he was, what the the SSS say then? If was not, why and who takes responsibility for that gross oversight and misleading the President to make a wrong choice and the ensuing mess over his confirmation?

    When did holding previous government positions offer a lifetime security clearance for public office? In civilized democracies, public officials have to routinely undergo background checks to maintain their positions or retain their security clearances. Good folks turn bad or go rogue after a while in some cases. Nobody was born a spy or corrupt but can be corrupted by associates or circumstances.
    So Mr. Sagay makes absolutely no sense by trying to sidestep the procedural issue of having the Senate request a background check on Magu.

    Then the credibility of the SSS as institution, now led by a relative of the President, is being openly challenged and called into question by Magu’s increasingly irate social media supporters.
    The SSS is a key part of the country’s national security apparatus and plays a role in the personal protection of the President. It MUST of necessity be insulated from politics and it’s credibility not subject to question by omission or commission.
    But one thing must remain uppermost: that the institutions of our government should never be undermined nor subordinated to the personal whims of any official. Not the President and certainly not that of an unelected public official like Ibrahim Magu. The country is bigger than all of us.

    • So oju abe niko

      Even as you struggled to write balanced opinion, it is apparent that you would rather see Mr Magu guilty as charged. You sir also have a “preconceived conclusion”. The only entity that is genuinely serving public interest by providing honest information to the public in this particular instance is the PT. I have read every article that PT wrote on this issue and it has been fairly balance. If their fact-checking reveals Mr Magu’s innocence, would you have preferred that they alter the report? SSS provided a false report to the senate in this case; the report becomes important because the Senate claims the rejection of the appointment is based on Mr Magu’s indictment in a security report. The SSS report aside, the senate could have rejected Mr Magu on a host of other issues, like the penchant for EFCC to try cases on the pages of newspaper, illegal detention without valid court orders, etc (btw, all previous EFCC chair are similarly guilty) and the Senate would have been in order.

      On a personal note, I think the EFCC mandate has to be reviewed and streamlined. At this point, they are largely duplicating police work. Apart from the few high profile cases, most of the routine financial cases EFCC investigates just like the police are best handled privately. Mainly, the cases involve litigants with connection to EFCC using EFCC as debt collectors on private contracts. Routine contract disputes that should ordinarily be settled in a civil proceeding are routinely criminalized in support of the party with EFCC connections.

      The other question is why should the EFCC chair always have to come from the police rank and file. The head of EFCC, SSS, Police Service Commission and the NSA need not be a police or a military person. The EFCC and PSC in particular should always be manned by a civilian, preferably a senior lawyer or a management expert. The other two positions, the NSA and the head of SSS, can be headed by civilians or retired military personnel, but should not be an exclusive preserve of the military.

      • Gary

        There is yet no proof that the SSS presented a false report or acted out of malice in its submission to the Senate. Just like the Senate and Saraki were accused of acting out of malice, PT has now walked back its earlier report about the sequencing of events that led to the submission of two reports.
        PT has merely reporter the refutations, apparently fro Magu’s camp, of some of the charges made against him. The SSS has offered no rebuttals yet but that does not make them true.
        Nor has PT dug into the ownership of the company paid to refurbish the Abuja residence and if indeed, any EFCC files were found in the home of Magu’s friend, Mr. Umar.

        It is quite a stretch to therefore draw any conclusions that the SSS report was a tissue of lies and fabricated to bring Magu down. No, Magu has fine enough of that in his eight month acting stint to convince any civil rights minded democrat to object to his confirmation.
        Truth be told, there are very few heroes in the unfolding tragedy of the Buhari government. He and his coterie of loyalists and kinsmen thought they could run the country by themselves and have turned out to be spectacular failures by their incompetence and parochialism.

        • Lukuti

          I believe the SSS are following this news more than all of us put together, because it is their role to monitor every sensitive issue in the country. It is also on record that issues of this gravity when related to the SSS does not stay this long to get their response. I expected you to tell us why SSS haven’t come out to refute all the information we read here on PT. All the security agencies waste no time in rejecting false allegations in order to put the records right. It is part of international best practices.

      • paul irumundomon

        The presidency and Senate, did not seek the advice of premium times, unfortunatrly.

  • serubawon70

    Mr Sagay is not the issue. The issue is concoted security report without basis in reality targeting an outstanding fighter of corruption. Mr Sagay gave his own opinion. But that does not change the facts on ground.

  • Wise Head

    Prof Sagay is on the wrong job. He should be seconded to the information ministry to assist Lai Mohammed

  • paul irumundomon

    When you try to separate truth from opinions in nigeria, you get lost in between your arguments as to what to believe.