ANALYSIS: Twice rejected – what is next for Magu and the EFCC?

by Mark Amaza

For the second time in four months, the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu was rejected by the Senate as the nominee to be the substantive head of the anti-graft agency.

After Magu was rejected by the Senate in December based on a report from the State Security Services (SSS) which accused him of being corrupt, President Muhammadu Buhari again nominated him for the same position. The Senate once again rejected the nomination on the same report despite the fact that in December, two reports had emanated from the SSS with the other one clearing Magu for the position.

The question now becomes: what next for Magu and for the EFCC?

It is apparent that when President Buhari has faith in an appointee, he sticks by that appointee no matter the opposition. This was evident in how he cleared the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, David Babachir Lawal of corruption allegations. This has also shown itself in how he has opted to stick by Magu.

However, it does not seem likely that Magu will be nominated for the third time unless the President is absolutely confident he will pass the screening. This will mean intense lobbying of the Senate to overlook the report of the SSS and confirm him.

In the alternative, Magu might be allowed to continue in his role as the Acting Chairman since there is no time limit to that and it does not impede the work of the Commission.

If another nomination is sent and confirmed, it will make the person the fifth chairperson of the commission in 13 years of its existence: Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri, Ibrahim Lamorde and the incumbent, Ibrahim Magu. Of these four chairpersons, only Ribadu completed his first term of four years as stipulated by the EFCC Act.

Without doubt, there is a slippery banana peel under the seat of the chairperson. This is to be expected as leading an agency that fights corruption as the EFCC will bring the chairperson at loggerheads with entrenched interests it will likely be investigating.

This is why it is imperative that as much as possible, the nominee for the office must be someone with clean hands, a person of integrity and conviction who cannot be easily blackmailed or pressured into doing the wrong thing.

Without this happening, the chairperson of the agency will fighting two wars: one against corruption and the other to save himself or herself. In many ways, these two are one war.

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