Abuja court throws out suit seeking to oust EFCC chair, Magu, SGF Lawal

Ibrahim Magu

A Federal High Court in Abuja on Friday threw out a suit seeking a mandamus order to compel President Muhammadu Buhari to sack acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, and the suspended Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Lawal.

That was after the plaintiffs – Save Nigeria Group (SNG) and Kingdom Human Rights Foundation International (KHRFI) applied to withdraw the cases.

The groups filed the suit marked: FHC/ABJ/15/1072/16 on December 29, 2015, in the wake of the corruption allegations levelled by the Senate against Lawal and Magu.

The two groups were represented in court by Kingdom Okeke.

But on Friday, Okeke applied orally for the withdrawal of the case on the ground that his client had reconsidered their position on the matter in public interest.

After listening to Okeke’s application, Justice John Tsoho, in a ruling, struck it out.

Okeke told newsmen after court’s proceedings that ”the boards of the plaintiffs looked at the issue of the $43 million discovered in a flat in Osborne building in Ikoyi, Lagos and discovered that Magu had done well.

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“This money was just a microscopic percentage of funds stolen by the political class over the years.

“It is commendable that the EFCC under the leadership of Magu was able to discover this money and nobody could honour the invitation to come out and lay claim to it, prompting the court to make a final forfeiture order of the money to the Federal Government. So we decided to withdraw the suit in support of Magu.”

The plaintiffs had in the suit filed last year named President Buhari, Lawal, Magu, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, and the Senate as the defendants.

They argued that the Senate, having recommended the removal and prosecution of Lawal, the President was under obligation to suspend or sack him as the SGF.

They added that the Senate, having rejected Magu’s nomination as substantive chairman of the EFCC, the office had become vacant.

They urged the court to declare that the allegation against Lawal by the Senate “is a sufficient and reasonable ground to warrant and compel President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to sack or suspend Lawal as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation or compel him to resign as the SGF, pending when he is cleared of every allegation of corruption; on the ground that the President claims that his administration is fighting corruption.”

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They also urged the court to declare that “the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria had the constitutional powers to recommend the sack or suspension of Lawal as the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF) on the grounds of corruption allegation filed against him and his company, in view of section 88(1) (b) and (2) (b) of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended).

Babachir Lawal
Babachir Lawal

They also sought a declaration that the provisions of the Federal Civil Service Rules is applicable to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, and that under the Federal Civil Service Rules, a person appointed in acting capacity cannot act in such capacity for more than six months, in view of Rules 010101, 020603 and 020604 of the Federal Civil Service Rules 2008.

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“A declaration that the Senate’s rejection of the 1st Defendant’s nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) following the Senate’s votes and proceeding of Thursday 15 December 2016 is a reasonable and lawful ground to warrant and compel the 1st Defendant to appoint/nominate another person as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission without any further delay.

“A declaration that the office of the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is vacant on the ground of the Senate’s rejection and failure to confirm Mr. Ibrahim Magu, who has been acting in that capacity for more than six months.

“A declaration that the four-year term of office provided for in section 3 (1) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment) Act is only applicable to a substantive Chairman of EFCC who is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate; and not applicable to a person appointed to act in the capacity of Chairman of the Commission, pending the appointment and confirmation of a substantive Chairman.”