EXCLUSIVE: Disregard SSS, Senate, keep Magu as acting EFCC boss, anti-corruption advisers tell Buhari

Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu
Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu

Regardless of the position of the Senate and the State Security Service, SSS, on the suitability of Ibrahim Magu for the top job at the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, the Presidential Advisory Council on Anti-corruption Campaign has advised President Muhammadu Buhari to keep him (Mr. Magu) in acting capacity.

The Senate on Tuesday rejected the re-nomination of Ibrahim Magu by Mr. Buhari as the substantive EFCC Chairman after the SSS reaffirmed its position that the nominee would constitute a liability to the administration’s anti-corruption campaign because he lacks integrity to lead the country’s anti-graft agency.

However, the council’s chairman, Itse Sagay, in an interview with PREMIUM TIMES late on Tuesday, described as “perverse” Senate rejection of Mr. Magu and insisted he is the “best for the job”.

Mr. Sagay, a professor of Law and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, disclosed that members of the council met (using conference call facility) in the wake of Mr. Magu’s failure to scale the Senate hurdle for the second time on same ground.

“We consider the rejection as extremely perverse, negative, not based on merit and a sort of vendetta,” said Mr. Sagay. “So we agreed he should continue to serve in that position as acting chairman if he is not confirmed by the Senate.”

Mr. Sagay is a staunch supporter of Mr. Magu and his council had earlier investigated the SSS allegations against the acting EFCC chairman and, consequently, considered them invalid.

The council’s advice may have been part of what Mr. Buhari considered to re-nominate Mr. Magu in January, telling the Senate investigations had absolved the nominee of culpability in respect of the SSS’ allegations.

But Tuesday, on the eve of the of his confirmation hearing, SSS wrote back to the Senate to reaffirm its position that Mr. Magu should not be confirmed because he has failed the “integrity test”, brushing aside the outcome of investigations by the presidency.

The SSS letter, seen by PREMIUM TIMES, was a response to the Senate which had on March 7 sought security report on Mr. Magu.

The development is strongly suggestive of lack of coordination in the Buhari administration or that Mr. Magu did not enjoy the full support of the president.

In fact, SSS had issued two reports on same day, October 3, with varying conclusions, though signed by one person, Folashade Bello, on behalf of the Director-General.

By re-nominating Mr. Magu in January and telling the Senate allegations against him were false, the SSS’ competence and capacity was brought to doubt. But surprisingly, the President did not query the SSS headed by his kinsman, Lawal Daura, over the service’s claims which he dismissed in his own letter to the Senateand as to why two varying reports were issued on one subject.

Nevertheless, the anti-corruption council has advised the President to re-nominate Mr. Magu for the third time, Mr. Sagay told PREMIUM TIMES, apart from keeping him in his current acting capacity.

“At his own time, at the President’s convenience, he should be re-nominated. But until that is done, Magu should continue to be there as acting chairman to continue the excellent job he has been doing. He is the best candidate for the job.

“Regardless of whatever report anybody writes, Magu is by far the best candidate and we should stick by him,” Mr. Sagay said.

Asked if his council was worried about the repeated blockade mounted by the SSS, an agency under the Presidency, against a nominee of the President, he said, “that’s an issue for the President himself to resolve.

“It does not directly concern us. Our job really is to consider what is best for the country in the fight against corruption.”

He said the council’s report would be formally communicated to the President today, Thursday, by its executive secretary.

Apart from the security report, Mr. Magu had a below-par day at his confirmation hearing, saying he was oblivious of at least three matters under the body he heads.

He could not specifically mention the amount the EFCC had recovered from looters. He admitted “it is not everything I know” when he was told his operatives sold a C of O recovered in a raided property.

After the hearing, one Senator, Rilwan Akanbi (APC-Oyo South), told PREMIUM TIMES he was one of the lawmakers that had backed Mr. Magu but blamed him for his performance during the hearing which he said worsened his case after the SSS report.

“Senate should not be blamed,” Mr. Akanbi said. “He didn’t perform well; yet many of us shouted “nay” but “aye” was truly greater. Then, the Presidency didn’t help him. They had months to tidy things and ensure the SSS did not bring a negative report again.”

In his remarks after the Senate voted to reject Mr. Magu, Senate President Saraki expressed expectation Mr. Buhari would consider it “normal” to replace the acting chairman.

Mr. Magu was appointed acting chairman in November 2015, after the removal of Ibrahim Lamorde.

On the two occasions that his name was sent to Senate, Mr. Buhari was vacationing abroad. In fact, the first nomination was made via the letter signed by Mr. Osinbajo in June 2016.

Presidential spokesperson, Femi Adesina, said on Thursday via his twitter handle the president would react only after receiving an official notification of the Senate resolution by the lawmakers.


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  • FELIX OHAEJESI

    True talk @ Sen. Akanbi.
    Mr. Didn’t prepare well and could not defend himself.
    Knowing too well that he has lots of enemies in the house (beginning with The Senate President), he should have prepared very well to defend himself.
    Also, as Sen. Akanbi rightly pointed out, the presidency on their own part has failed with regards to working on the DSS, knowing the situation on ground.

    • Julius

      I would think that his resume / track records should outweigh his hearing performer !. How many of that same Senators can perform well under questioning ? Just a few I will submit. So , thats an after-thought excuse from that Senator.

    • Sun Tzu

      Stop blaming buhari, because the two times magu name was sent, was by the VP. read between the lines.

  • Gerald Okoduwa

    The so called DSS report was manufactured by the Saraki Corruption Cabal. Magu said at the hearing that the person who signed the latest letter was not known at DSS, yet the senators ignored the observation and went ahead to act their previously prepared script with Dino Melaye as the star actor. We are no fools. The guilty are afraid of justice. Blocking Magu is not the solution.

    • Ceejay Iloelunachi

      Are u inferring that Magu is the only person out there that can do this job for this govt? I advise the presidency to seek someone else. Whatever political side you belong to, the fact remains the senate acted on a report. Same report that would have been used as reasons to raid someones home at night by either the DSS or EFCC.

  • otitokoro

    Yes Buhari should show the visionless, rapacious and self serving NASS some teeth. Tell them who is the boss. What are they gonna do ? Seriously, nothing. Nigerians rise up and insist on Magu NOW!

    • Steve Obazue

      Don’t you think you are getting it wrong? PMB needs to tidy his house; he needs to ensure the agencies under his control are in sync. You don’t blame a thief (who has been looking for a way to rob you), for walking into your house, when the gateman left one of the gates unlocked.

      Besides, security clearance is the norm for all nominees, and not just in Nigeria. Would you expect the Senate, for instance, to confirm as an Ambassador for Nigeria, someone with a questionable past? If PMB doesn’t want to sort whatever ish is going on between the EFCC Acting boss and the DSS boss, then he should just nominate someone else as boss of EFCC, cos this is getting embarrassing to his Government.

      • Sun Tzu

        Stop blaming buhari, because the two times magu name was sent, was by the VP. read between the lines

    • Africa

      You are on point!

    • Okokondem

      I agree with you wholeheartedly, but how would you propose Nigerians go about standing up to the NASS? I am seeking answers and not being critical. I too strongly believe that the Nigerian masses have a role to play as far as their governance is concerned but the problem is what is that besides simply complaints and criticisms.

  • emmanuel

    Sagay is a case of a demented fellow. See how Trump has been struggling to carry on with what he thinks is good for the USA? In Nigeria the rule of law is nor the foor and oppressed and the government is above the law.
    This was how Lamorde carried on like a Deer swallowed Python, not knowing that he was more a thief than those to he left un-prosecuted.
    This is another case of a corrupt soul leading fight against corruption.
    We have else seen how in early February 2017, The EFCC, Attorney General and Minister of information could not tel Nigerians til date what the exact amount of loot recovered is. Of course we suspected that some of those mies may have grown wings under the watch of Sagay’saint Magu.
    As for Buhari, he has So-klin, Ariel, Omo, Waw etc which he cleans corrupt men with and they come as white as snow.

  • Gary

    The Magu fan club, paid and volunteers, are out full throttle screaming at the nation thst the end is nigh unless their man is kept at the EFCC.
    They are now harassing and pummeling President Buhari who gave this average police officer the chance to head the agency for not imposing Magu on the country, due process be damned.
    Pray, what is so special about Magu that even otherwise educated and enlightened folks have become so invested in his fortunes. How many of these sycophants knew this man and his antecedents until he was appointed by Buhari? Has he been more effective than say, Nuhu Ribadu who ran the agency within the ambit of the law and was not in the habit of violating the civil rights of suspects and persons of interest to the EFCC.

    It is alarming when those who should know better encourage cutting corners and due process in order to achieve a preconceived outcome. No, the President has rightly chosen to not influence the professional judgment of his security agency in its vetting of Magu. That judgement was passed on the Senate and influenced the rejection of Magu as substantive head of the EFCC. The story should have ended there but like everything else with this Presidency, vested interests treated us to a charade of AGF Malami probing and clearing Magu of the weighty charges leveled against him by the DSS in order to renominate him for confirmation. It is only in Nigeria, that the AGF embarks on his own probe to overrule the judgement of our own FBI. If Magu was not fully vetted by the Senate before his first rejection, he cannot claim to have been shortchanged the second time. And the DSS again maintained that he’s unfit for confirmation and again he was rejected.
    So here we go again: the people are subjects to a media campaign in which a paper tiger is being packaged as an indispensable hero without whom the Republic will fall. The gullible will go along to put a fascist in office and then turn round to wail when he turns round to do what fascists do: ignore the rule of law and citizens’ rights in the name of fighting corruption.
    The war in corruption does not need Magu to succeed. The country is awash with people of integrity and competence who also have a respect for the rule of law and due process -retired judges, the likes of Ishola Williams and even Nuhu Ribadu who can do the job.

    • Justice and Fairness

      Before going into the merits or demerits of your argument. It is a complete insult to the intelligence of Nigerians and a contemp to our moral values that a Senate headed and filled with crooks and criminals most of whom have been firmly indicted, to arrogantly sit in judgement (and determination of the fate) of one who is currently exposing their rotten and patiently criminal affairs. I don’t blame them though I blame the Baba, who is just there, seemingly completely out of touch. Is this a case of Senilty?

      • absam777

        Baba has lost his balls. I suspected this when he shook Saraki’s hands. The guy is very fetish.

    • Mr. Dee

      Gary you must be a familiar stranger to Nigerian politics or the polity itself. What do you mean by cutting corners or following due process? Magus name was sent to the Senate twice, Is that not due process?. DSS your so call “your own FBI” had earlier exonerated him from all the tromp up charges. Yet again pressurized by vested interest to forward same allegations that has no grounds in law just to reject him by the same cabals that are ripping and stealing Nigeria wealth with impunity.
      Subjects like you would always defend corruption because you benefit tremendously from the spoils of a “fail nation”. you will always support the status quo no matter how many Nigerians are impoverished by these devilish skim by your greedy politicians.
      Nuhu Ribadu near suffered similar fate.

  • absam777

    Not even Ribadu achieved half of what Magu has achieved to date. What do you expect thieves to do when they catch a policeman, love him? The loser in the whole saga is the president who is gradually becoming a lame duck.

    • Gary

      Nice to see E-rats are now choosing sides between Magu and Buhari.
      Lai and Aso Rock are now reaping the fruits of useless propaganda: your operatives are now using government resources to attack the President. Good luck guys, please pass the popcorn while you entertain us.

      • absam777

        This issue pass the Jonathanians. Magu is cleaning up your mess. Don’t just eat popcorn, send them down with the usual drink …………ogogoro / apetesi / kai kai.