Partners for Electoral Reform (PER), a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) said Senate’s rejection of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was a setback to anti-corruption fight.
Chairman of the organisation, Mr Ezenwa Nwagwu, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the issue was not to glorify anyone as sole corruption fighter as it was being demonstrated.
He said that it was clear that Magu came with purpose and courage and that his determination to curb corruption was strong.
Nwagwu said that what was happening was “corruption fighting back’’.
“The National Assembly, especially the Senate, has become an extension of the Governors’ Forum; majority of these governors are under investigation.
“In fact, the Senate President’s wife is under investigation and the courage to fight is only coming from the present leadership of the EFCC.
“So, to ask that the same body to be the one confirming the man who has put them on the spot is illusionary; secondly, there are issues around the bailout funds and it’s a huge scandal that is erupting.
“The national assembly, many of them are former governors and have been implicated in it and what that means is that if you allow a Magu, many of them will be rubbished with the kind of courage he has.
“So, there are issues around whether the presidency didn’t know about the report of the DSS and all of those things are palace intrigues.
“I call it palace intrigues because the conflict between EFCC and the DSS is about inter-agency rivalry that Nigeria is known for and all the pettiness that goes with it is what is playing out and nothing more,’’ he said.
Nwagwu said that he expected the senate to take itself above pettiness and act in a statesman’s manner for the good of the country.
He said that those who conceived the idea of the different arms of government checking the other never thought of a situation where persons in one arm would be those who were being investigated by another arm.
“That is the challenge now and for me, the day he was rejected was a sad day for Nigeria, yet people are saying it was because he did not perform well at the national assembly,’’ he said.
The NGO boss said that the gift of the garb was not a condition for diligence or performance as they were many people who could not communicate well yet came top in class.
He said that Magu’s rejection was a deep conspiracy against the anti-corruption fight in Nigeria and nothing more.
However, Mr Festus Okoye, Executive Director, Human Rights Monitor, said that there was no mystery or mistake to Magu’s rejection by the senate.
Okoye said that the Constitution of Nigeria recognised duality of power and did not give the president of the country the power and authority to be the sole decision maker in relation to appointments.
“What it has done is to give the president the power of nomination and to the senate, the power of confirmation of the nomination.
“The powers being wielded by the executive in terms of nomination and the powers being wielded by the senate in terms of confirmation are the powers of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“So, if the organ given the power to confirm says the person has failed an integrity test, I do not see why we should not sleep because of it.
“Secondly, I think it is incongruous and a disservice to our democracy for us to wrap our institutions around individuals, for us to insist that only one individual can do the job of fighting corruption in Nigeria,’’ he said.
Okoye said that rather than insist on breaching the Constitution and that only one individual could do the job, Nigeria should return to the drawing board and do what was right.
He said President Muhammadu Buhari, in his wisdom, should nominate somebody else to take that position, adding that Magu’s rejection may not be because the “lawmakers has skeleton in their cupboard’’.
Okoye said that since Magu failed the integrity test involving issues of corruption and abuse of office, it was not right to claim that he was rejected because the lawmakers were corrupt.
Mr Clement Nwankwo, Executive Director, Policy and Legal Advocacy Centre (PLAC), said that the national assembly had liberty to take any action it dimmed fit in its statutory responsibility.
Nwankwo said “if the national assembly rejected Magu based on integrity report, so be it; it should not be an issue at all.’’
On his part, a lawyer, Mr Frank Tietie, said that Magu’s rejection was a welcomed development towards choosing leaders to head major institutions.
According to Tietie, who is Executive Director, Citizens Advocacy for Social and Economic Rights (CASER), since Magu has been implicated in corruption case, there is a case against his integrity.