AS the plot thickens to stop the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr Ibrahim Magu, from becoming the substantive chair of the Commission, three names have popped up as his possible replacements. They are a former boss of the anti-graft agency, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu; the Comptroller-General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hamid Ali (rtd) and a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Amodu Ali, who is famous for investigating the $180million Halliburton bribery scandal.
Investigation by our correspondent revealed that the decision to prop up their names was part of the grand plot by the powerful forces opposed to Magu to stop his re-nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari. More names might also be propped up in the next few days. But the Transparency International- Nigeria and some civil society groups yesterday protested non-confirmation of Magu by the Senate.
The TI and others described the security report upon which the Senate based its decision as “curious.” A top source said: “These forces do not want Magu re-nominated by the President when the Senate returns from Christmas break. “This is why they have recommended some people (at least three for now) who have impeccable integrity like Magu as the next substantive chairman of EFCC.
“These are the Comptroller- General of the Nigeria Customs Service, Col. Hamid Ali (rtd), a former Chairman of EFCC, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, and a retired Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Amodu Ali who investigated the $180million Halliburton bribery scandal. “But President Buhari is just listening to arguments for and against Magu. The ball is in the court of the President.” There were however fears last night that these forces might go to court if Buhari re-nominates Magu.
They are trying to hang on to the report of the Department of State Security Service (DSS) to seek some ambiguous reliefs in court.” It was also learnt that pro- Magu sympathisers are also pressing buttons to have the ears of the President to stick to the Acting EFCC chairman. Another source added: “Representations have been made in the last 24 hours to those close to the President to insist on Magu. “Those sympathetic to Magu actually approached an influential governor to intercede and let the President get a second opinion on the DSS report.
“This situation is dicey as I talk to you because both sides are embroiled in intense politics of survival. “Those against Magu were busy yesterday celebrating that they have boxed the Acting EFCC chairman to a corner.” Apart from Transparency International, other civil society groups who protested against non-confirmation of Magu by the Senate yesterday include Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and Zero-corruption Coalition (ZCC) They made their position known in a statement by the Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani).
The statement said: “The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Transparency International-Nigeria (TI) and Zero-corruption Coalition (ZCC) express concern at the circumstances surrounding the nonconfirmation by the Nigerian Senate of Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of Economic and Financial Crime Commission (EFCC), upon his appointment by the President.
“We find it worrisome that the confirmation of the head of such a strategic anti-corruption agency is taking such a long time, having been first appointed in November 2015, and worse still at a time when the nation is reinvigorating the fight against corruption. “CISLAC, TI- Nigeria and ZCC wonder if there is more to the unfolding events than meets the eye. “We are further alarmed at the circumstances preceding the last session in which the Upper Chamber failed to confirm the appointee.
“The fact that the session was preceded by a rowdy sitting and the Senators resorted to a closeddoor session further highlights the lack of transparency in the confirmation process. “We find the Senate’s reliance on a security report from the Department of State Services (DSS) as a reason for the rejection of the President’s appointee very curious.
“While we acknowledge that the Senators have the power of confirmation as well as the right of recourse to relevant institutions for vetting, this must be applied strictly for public good and in very transparent and accountable manner. “CISLAC, TI and ZCC therefore call on the Senate to make public the security report it depended upon to reject the confirmation. “Merely reading it out in a closed session and applying it to arrive at such far reaching decisions fall short of the expectations of the electorate that they represent in the exercise of their powers.
“We call on the DSS to publicly confirm that they are the source of the report in question and authenticate the content for the Nigerian Public to know. “Considering that the DSS is also an agency in the executive arm, it should indicate if the report was also shared with the President who appoints the EFCC chairman. This is to ensure that it is discharging its functions as expected by law and procedure.
“We call on the Presidency to publicly state its position on the unfolding issues so that Nigerians can have a clear picture and draw their own conclusions as public support is crucial to a successful fight against corruption. “The position of the EFCC chair is a very sensitive one and its occupant must be held to the highest levels of integrity and credibility.
“A situation where individuals and groups hide under clandestine and unverified documents and reports to take decisions that could undermine the integrity of individuals and institutions at the forefront of the anti-corruption efforts will be a disservice to the nation and must not be allowed to stand.
“We notify the Senate that their inability to come clean on these would only fuel the perception that their failure to confirm the appointment of the EFCC chairman who has acted for one year is linked to their personal and selfish desire to protect themselves and scuttle the fight against corruption of which several of their members have been beneficiaries. “We urge all well-meaning Nigerians and the media to kick against all manners of unjust decision or resolution by the Nigerian Senate to sabotage the on-going anti-corruption fight in the country.”