by Alexander O. Onukwue
Is there a need for Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo to tender an apology to the Senate for his comments on Magu’s nomination?
The Nigeria Senate, on Tuesday, 4th July, expressed its displeasure at the statement by the Acting President that the Presidency did not have to depend on the confirmation of the Senate for a substantive Chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Osinbajo’s words were based on Femi Falana’s interpretation of an item of law, comparing the requirements of a section of the Constitution, in comparison with the stipulations in the EFCC Act. The Acting President said that “even a pocket book lawyer knows that when a legislation conflicts with the constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails”.
On this premise, Osinbajo – a Professor of Law, Senior Advocate of Nigeria and a former Attorney-General of Lagos State – agreed with Mr Falana “that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the Senate”.
Femi Falana has been one of the fiercest critics of the National Assembly, often confronting them on the issues of Corruption and their role in tampering with the 2017 Budget. Falana has been particularly critical of the Senate President. On the reverse, he has largely been in support of the Presidency, though the recent Hausa audio recording of President Buhari’s Eid-al-fitr message was an unfortunate thing.
As a teacher and still teacher/interpreter of law but now a top member of the Executive, does that make Prof Osinbajo lose his right to make observations and have opinions on the point of law? The answer to that is more in the negative. If for no other reason, the head of the Executive is also a lawmaker in his right, even if his duties are different from the Legislature and the Judiciary.
Osinbajo’s opinion was within his rights and privilege. He did not seek to change any law; he only made an inference from laws already written.