Why Magu must vacate office now –J. B Daudu (SAN)

  • Says senate rejection of Magu terminates his contract as acting chair of EFCC
  • Blasts Prof Sagay over his opinion on senate’s rejection of Magu

One time President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Mr. Joseph Bodunrin Daudu, SAN, on Wednesday described as illegal the continued stay in office by Mr Ibrahim Magu after the senate purportedly rejected his nomination as the substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Daudu (SAN) argued that the rejection of Magu by the senate activated section 2(3) of the EFCC Act which states that ‘The chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate’.

He argued that “the appointment of the EFCC Chairman is not only within the purview of the President but is subject to the confirmation of the Senate.

“What this means is that the rejection by the Senate of the nomination of Mr. Magu automatically ends his role within the EFCC,” adding that he is on seat today illegally.

Daudu, SAN, who is the national co-ordinator of Rule of Law Development Foundation, gave the clinical analysis of the development in a statement he issued on the matter.

He also used the opportunity to descend on Prof Itse Sagay (SAN) on his opinion on the issue to the effect that without the senate confirmation, Magu could remain on his seat for as as the law permits an individual to occupy the position.

He said the position of the eminent professor of law was a deliberate obfuscation of the EFCC Act on the matter, particularly its section 2(3).

He said it would be honourable for the eminent professor of law to keep quiet on national legal issues if he has nothing exciting to offer, saying his present contribution in the Magu’s case portrayed him as a delinquent.

Although the position of the senate on Magu’s case had dealt a serious crack on the red chambers, some popular voices had explained away Magu’s travail as corruption fighting back.

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Bar and Bench Watch reports that Magu at the last conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) which held in the Garden City, Port-Harcourt, had attacked the umbrella association of lawyers as a body of rogues and vultures.

He made the vitriolic comment when the incumbent President of the NBA, Mr Mahmoud (SAN) suggested that EFCC should only be restricted to investigating crimes instead of combining the role with prosecution of crimes to achieve better results.

Magu who kicked against what he called an organised attempt to whittle down the powers of EFCC so as to stop the on-going fight against corruption said the suggestion would not work.

He accused senior lawyers, particularly the SANS of working against EFCC to achieve results.

He vowed to move against some of them whom he said the commission had evidence against.

Although he later amended his comment to say that he was only referring to just the few ones amongst the august body of lawyers, many legal practitioners were not happy with him.

Magu had actually begun implementation of his blueprints for the EFCC by arresting judges, senior lawyers and dusting up files of many others, according to EFCC’s source which included that Mr J. B. Daudu (SAN).

But whatever he had as agenda to implement in EFCC was scattered by the purported rejection of his nomination by the senate.

However, J.B Daudu (SAN) who said he was reacting to the development on Magu’s case based on the provisions of the EFCC’s Act said there are many qualified and competent persons in the system who could do what Magu is doing at the EFCC, perhaps better.

He argued that his nomination having been rejected, he had no business remaining in office.

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His clinical analysis of section 2(3) of the EFCC Act vide a press statement which he issued on behalf of his Foundation on Wednesday, is indeed very persuasive.

The statement reads: “On Thursday December 15, 2016, the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria held an executive session during which it rejected the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC by President Muhammadu Buhari based on an adverse ‘security report’ authorised by the State Security Service, (SSS).

“This was after extensive hearing at Committee stage.

“Unsurprisingly, this action generated debate within the country centred around the question of what the status of Mr. Magu is and whether the rejection by the Senate does not have any legal effect on his status as Ag. Chairman?

“The statutory provision for the appointment of the EFCC Chairman is found in section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act Cap. E17 LFN, 2004 which states: ‘The chairman and members of the Commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President subject to the confirmation of the Senate’.

“There is no doubt that the appointment of the EFCC Chairman is not only within the purview of the President but is subject to the confirmation of the Senate.

“What this mean is that the rejection by the Senate of the nomination of Mr. Magu automatically ends his role within the EFCC.

“In its rejection of the nomination, the Senate Committee held that ; ‘The nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu is hereby rejected and has been returned to the President for further action’.

“What this statement suggests is that the next step as to the future of the EFCC is left to the discretion of the President.

“He can of course choose to re-nominate Mr Magu for confirmation or go for a different nominee for the position.

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“What are those next steps especially as it relates to Mr. Magu and his possible position at the EFCC?

“Eminent commentators such as Prof. Sagay have argued that the President should ignore decision of the Senate.

At the point this letter was received by the Senate, section 2(3) of the EFCC Act was triggered and there is therefore no lacuna for any law including the Interpretation Act to correct.

“The process of the appointment is in two stages, nomination and confirmation.

They are handled by separate arms of government. One arm cannot dictate supremacy to the other as that will amount to brazen infraction of the constitution.

“The suggestion by some professorial delinquents that the President should ride roughshod over the will of the Senate amounts to gross irresponsibility and anarchistic in outlook.

“Persons who have nothing useful to contribute to the future of this potentially great country should hold their peace rather than creating constitutional confusion and anarchy.

“Finally, on this point, it is important to reiterate that our constitution is built on the principles of the Separation of Powers.

“It is the hallmark of checks and balances specifically enacted to prevent dictatorship and impunity.

“Every leader must embrace its limitations, else we stand the risk as a nation to slide into chaos and confusion.

“President Buhari must consider the Magu experiment as a failure and treat the file as closed.

“There are better materials in the system that can run the EFCC within the ambit of the Rule of Law and make a success story of the establishment.

“The way corruption is fought is more important than the fight against corruption itself.

“If corruption is fought with wicked, impure, callous and sadistic measures or procedures, we run the risk of creating tin-gods and the fight itself will be in breach of citizen’s fundamental rights as guaranteed by the 1999 Constitution”.