UPDATED: Senate right to reject Magu as EFCC chairman, Court rules

Acting EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu [Photo: Channels TV]

An Abuja Division of the Federal High Court has affirmed the decision of the Senate to reject Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.

Mr. Magu was nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari twice. In both times, the Senate rejected the nomination.

The court made the decision two weeks ago, but PREMIUM TIMES only got copies of the ruling on Thursday.

According to the ruling, Justice John Tsoho ruled that the applicant was wrong in its assumption that the Senate was only there to confirm any choice made by the executive.

The judge said the Senate has the powers to ensure that only suitable persons are appointed to the position of chairperson for the anti-corruption agency.

The applicant, Oluwatosin Ojaomo, had asked the court to declare as illegal the rejection of Mr. Magu by the Senate.

According to the motion contained in a 20-paragraph affidavit, filed on January 24, Mr. Ojaomo asked the court to reverse the rejection of Mr. Magu on the grounds that the Senate “lacked powers to reject a nominated candidate for the said position”, following his (Ojaomo’s) interpretation of the EFCC act, 2004.

According to the motion, Mr. Ojaomo sought the determination of two issues by the court: whether the senate had powers to reject a validly nominated candidate for the position of EFCC chairman, by the presidency.

He also asked the court to determine if the senate was not bound by the provisions of the EFCC act 2 (3) to confirm any candidate nominated by the presidency for the said position.

The applicant argued that the provisions of section 2; subsections (i) (ii) (iii) as well as section 2 (3) of the EFCC act, 2004 does not give the Senate the authority to scrutinise any choice of a candidate made by the president for the position.

According Mr. Ojaomo, the provisions of the sections that the Presidency ‘Shall” nominate a candidate while the senate “shall” confirm the nominated candidate means that the role of the senate is only to affirm the decision of the presidency and not to question it.

In his ruling however, Mr. Tsoho said the sections referred to by the applicant were misconceived.

According to the judge, the said sections provide that the presidency makes the nomination “subject to” the ratification by the Senate.

“More importantly the expression; ‘subject to’ used in section 2 (3) of the EFCC act is very instructive. It has been categorically stated that the phrase, ‘subject to’ introduces a condition, a limitation,” the judge noted among other points.

“On the issue of the authorities therefore the expression subject to should be understood to simply mean; ‘depending on’. Accordingly the import of section 2 (3) of the EFCC act is that the appointment of a chairman made by the Presidency is dependent on confirmation by the senate.

“The Senate is thus confirmed with authority to ensure the choice of only suitable and credible persons for the appointment to that office. The submission of the plaintiff however gives the impression that the senate only exists to rubber stamp the President’s appointment of a chairman. Such view runs counter to the proper intendment of section 2 (3) of the EFCC act 2004 and is misconceived. Consequently this suit is struck out,” the judge ruled.

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