Retired General, lawyers, rights group react to Senate’s rejection of Magu’s confirmation

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Magu: In the eyes of Saraki's Senate...

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*Senate is corruption’s Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD) – MURIC

*Says Red Chamber too clever by half, calls for masses’ action against Senate

*Senate not close to security report more than presidency – General

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*There are unanswered questions in the matter – Shitta-Bey

*Senate attitude not a surprise – Sekinah Lawal, NAWOJ Leader

*Social media responses uncomfortable with rejection of Magu’s confirmation

“It is noteworthy that Senate was actually hijacked ab initio for the singular purpose of frustrating President Buhari’s administration. Powerful forces had correctly predicted that Buhari would go all out for the jugular of corrupt elements in society. These powerful forces are now using a hijacked Senate to fight back.  The signs in the horizon are ominous. Senate is being used to fight the Buhari administration. Half of his ambassadorial nominees were recently rejected by Senate. The same Senate has rejected nominees known to have criticised Senate at one time or the other. This Senate has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that it is frustrating the current war against corruption.”

Reactions have trailed Thursday’s rejection by the Nigerian Senate of Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as a retired General, rights group, lawyers and social media activists have described the attitude of the higher chambers of the National Assembly as unfortunate and suspicious of a clique in the Assembly not wanting the ongoing anti-corruption war of President Muhammadu Buhari to succeed.

The DEFENDER had Thursday, like other media in Nigeria, broke the news of the Senate’s refusal to hold the confirmation screening of the anti-graft czar holding on to a security report available to it as an excuse.

But in their reactions, some prominent Nigerians including a former Commander in the Nigerian Army, Major General Abdullahi Martins (Rtd), the Professor Ishaq Akintola-led Muslim Rights Concerned (MURIC), Head of Chambers, Sikiru Ayodeji Shitta-Bey & Co, Barrister Imran Shitta-Bey and many others queried the manner of security report that could have existed that President Muhammadu Buhari would not have seen before transiting to the Senate the letter seeking confirmation of the EFCC’s top man.

In his reaction, General Martins said, “It is unfair to cite security report as an excuse for the refusal.  The executive that proposed him (Ibrahim Magu) as suitable would have done due diligence on him including the security report.  Does the Senate have better access to making such report without recourse to the executive? The refusal is purely political from a Senate that has lost public confidence and respect.  In any case there refusal would not change anything.”

Making his own submission in an email message sent to The DEFENDER, Barrister Shitta-Bey in his tactical response stated that there were unanswered questions in the matter, “For example, did the two arms of government have access to the same security report? If so, then strangely each arm of government has given a different meaning to the same report. This is a puzzle Nigerians can’t wait to unravel. Once the dust settles, we will know who and what to believe.”

His reaction detailed that, “The Senate is performing its constitutional role to screen and approve nominees of the President to the headship of government agencies such as the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). In doing so the Senate naturally looks into the background and track record of nominees and will naturally have access to security reports prepared by relevant security agencies of government.

“In the instant case, the Senate has cited report of the State Security Service (aka DSS) as calling into question the integrity of the President’s nominee to head the government’s key anti-corruption agency. Such ought not to be taken lightly given the pivotal role of the occupant of such a seat to the success of any government’s anti-corruption war. Of course, one would expect that before the Presidency presents its nominee for any position, it would have done its homework including satisfying itself that its candidate is without blemish and has a clean bill of health from relevant government security agencies.

“It must therefore have come as an embarrassment that the Senate will cite a state security report as reason for rejecting the nomination of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of EFCC. Certainly there are unanswered questions here. For example, did the two arms of government have access to the same security report? If so, then strangely each arm of government has given a different meaning to the same report. This is a puzzle Nigerians can’t wait to unravel. Once the dust settles, we will know who and what to believe,” Shitta-Bey said.

To the Chairperson, National Association of Women Journalists (NAWOJ), Lagos State Chapter, Hajjiah Sekinah Lawal, the Senate’s attitude is not a surprise.
“It is expected from our so-called Lawmakers not to confirm him since many of them have cases to answer with the EFCC. And considering the way and manner he has been going about some of the pending cases meticulously, it won’t come as a surprise that they wouldn’t want to confirm him. If that should be the case, it only shows that our politicians are really not ready to fight corruption. And this is very unfortunate.”

‘Senate hijacked by corrupt elements to fight Buhari administration’

In the meantime, the Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) has expressed his worry about the Senate decision saying that it was nonplussed by the development.

MURIC in a statement signed by its Director, Professor Ishaq Akintola, copy of which was emailed to The DEFENDER Thursday morning, said, “The Nigerian Senate yesterday rejected the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).  The Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC) is nonplussed by this development. It is an act of vengeance and a shameless anti-people decision. The rejection of Magu’s appointment by Senate is a declaration of hostilities against the anti-corruption crusade. The Nigerian Senate has just revealed its true colour as corruption’s undisputed numero uno Weapon of Mass Destruction (WMD).

“Senate has decided to take its pound of flesh for Magu’s no nonsense stance in EFCC’s role in the war against corruption. But the Nigerian Senate has been too clever by half. The Nigerian people are not stupid morons. They know why our lawmakers are baring their fangs.

“Nigerians know that the same EFCC under Magu is behind the exposure of alleged corrupt dealings of the Senate President whose forgery case is still in court. Magu is being punished for daring the Senate President. In acting capacity since November 2015, Magu’s screening which had been pending since July, 2016 was billed for last Thursday 8th December but it was postponed again till yesterday. Was the procrastination not a hidden message to the EFCC boss? ‘Back off and you will be confirmed. Persist and you will never be confirmed!’

“Although yesterday’s rejection may have put the last nail in the coffin, Nigerians need to know Senate’s modus operandi. This Senate believes that the executive arm of government must play ball even at the expense of the masses or face the consequences. Senate feels threatened by the war against corruption because its hands are not clean.

“We remind Nigerians of the ping-pong game on the 2016 budget. Senate found one excuse after another to frustrate the presentation of the 2016 budget to the detriment of the Nigerian people. Patriotism was sent to the winds and the real purpose of legislation which was to serve the people was ignored by Senate members.

“It is noteworthy that Senate was actually hijacked ab initio for the singular purpose of frustrating President Buhari’s administration. Powerful forces had correctly predicted that Buhari would go all out for the jugular of corrupt elements in society. These powerful forces are now using a hijacked Senate to fight back.

“The signs in the horizon are ominous. Senate is being used to fight the Buhari administration. Half of his ambassadorial nominees were recently rejected by Senate. The same Senate has rejected nominees known to have criticised Senate at one time or the other. This Senate has shown beyond any reasonable doubt that it is frustrating the current war against corruption.

“This Senate has shown that it only cares for the interest of its members and not that of the Nigerian people. Despite the current recession, it purchased 108 exotic Toyota Land Cruiser vehicles at the whopping cost of N31.5 million per car (totaling N3.6 billion) for its members. This is an act of insensitivity and a crime against poor Nigerians. This is in spite of getting car loans for its members in August 2015! Even the price of the vehicles was allegedly inflated because each vehicle costs N17 million only, ceteris paribus.

“Ten new exotic cars were delivered to Senate Deputy President in December 2015. The Senate president got more earlier. To circumvent extant laws, Senate is desperately amending the anti-corruption law. It sought immunity for its leadership. It is also feverishly engaged in stripping the president of his executive powers in virtually all matters simply because Buhari has remained adamant in his war on corruption.

“MURIC calls on civil society to rise against this hijacked Senate. We charge the arrow head of civil society, the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC), to do the needful. Workers must be mobilised at the appropriate time to make it impossible for the National Assembly to work against the interest of the masses. We warn that the jamaheer are doomed if Senate is allowed to frustrate the current war against corruption.

“We invite religious leaders, church clerics and Imams to mobilize their followers for a showdown with this greedy Senate. They are behind the hunger and starvation being faced by Nigerians. They are responsible for all our economic woes. A morally bankrupt NASS cannot represent the electorate. A non-violent people’s revolution targeted at the NASS has become expedient.

 Soyinka’s ‘stupid’, ‘morons’ comment

“This reminds us of Professor Wole Soyinka’s recent reference to Nigerians as ‘stupid’ and ‘morons’. We believe that Soyinka was grossly misunderstood. Those words were vituperations compelled by the docility of Nigerians in the face of massive fraud, monumental corruption and unequalled oppression. In other climes, massive demonstrations at the NASS after those shocking revelations would have forced its leaders to resign.

“Soyinka is shocked that Nigerians fail to know their real enemies. Those words were meant to express disdain for our nonchalance and passivity thereby jogging us to action. They were wake up calls. We must show this Senate that we are neither ‘stupid’ nor ‘morons’, MURIC said.

Responses from social media

Sani Abdullahi said: “Ibrahim Magu of the EFCC rejected by the Senate…
As far as PMB refuses to share money, allocates fat contracts and constituency projects to them, he will continue to have problem with them because 90% of them are there to make money. He must not share money to them.”

Anthony Igweike said: “How can they (confirm Magu), if you be one of them, will you confirm him?”

Chuks Isibor said: “Then he will continue to act in that capacity.”

Henry Ogoli said: “Very correct @ Chuks Isibor. There’s no time limit to acting capacity. The guilt is always afraid and because the senate is full of fears, they’re afraid of a strict & firm personality.”


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