Olawale Atande: Should we be concerned about the Senate’s non-confirmation of Magu?

by Olawale Atande

On Thursday the 15th of December, the Senate announced it would not be confirming Mr. Ibrahim Magu as the EFCC chairman. They based their decision on a “security report” submitted to them by the DSS. This comes 7 months after the Vice President, then acting as the President when Buhari was away for a 10-day visit to the United Kingdom, wrote a letter to the senate asking for Magu to be confirmed.

The report, which has not been released to the public, allegedly contains some damning revelations about the dealings of the acting EFCC chairman as reported by several news outlets. The report accused Magu of living a double life, revealing confidential EFCC secrets to unauthorised persons, living way above his paygrade and associating with persons of questionable character.

The report, prepared by the DSS, states that Magu lives in a N40 million house that attracts an annual rent of N20 million which was not paid by the EFCC but by an indicted Air Force officer, Commodore Umar Muhammed (retd.) who the DSS has previously detained and accused of having a questionable character. The report also stated that Magu had previously been removed from the EFCC for possessing unauthorised EFCC files during the tenure of Farida Waziri but was returned to the commission when Ibrahim Larmode assumed leadership of the commission.

Based on these findings by the DSS, it advised that Magu would not be a suitable candidate for the Chairmanship of the EFCC. Subsequently, his confirmation was denied by the Senate who returned his name to the Presidency for further action.

However, there have been concerns in some quarters that there might be more to the Senate’s non-confirmation of Magu. It should be noted that the Senate President, Bukola Saraki, his wife and quite a number of senators are under EFFC investigation for various cases of corruption. If the investigated senators believe that Magu is not playing ball, it would not be out of place for the senators to prefer a more amenable EFCC chairman.

There have also been allegations that a cabal within the Presidency consisting of the Chief of Staff, Abba Kyari, the Director of the Department of State Services, Lawal Daura and the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami have been bent on making sure the Senate reject Magu’s confirmation. It is alleged that these members of Buhari’s kitchen cabinet are vexed with Magu for going after their associates and not toeing the line. They allegedly connived with the Senate President by agreeing to cease his trial at the Code of Conduct as a tit-for-tat for the Senate’s rejection of Magu.

If there is any truth to these allegations, it portends great danger for Nigeria’s corruption drive. It means that a few unelected individuals can decide which corrupt person is left off the hook and which is allowed to face justice. It means a cabal can run the wheels of governance right under the president’s nose. This takes us back to 2010 when it was said a cabal, and not late President Yar’Adua, was running his government while he was ill.

If these allegations against Magu are true, then his rejection by the Senate is in order and we should not be concerned. In fact, we can say we dodged a bullet. The President should forward the name of a suitable and qualified candidate in Magu’s stead.

However, if there is truly a cabal at work here then there is cause to worry. It makes it worse that an alleged member of the cabal, Abba Kyari, has been accused of corruption. If corrupt persons have taken over Buhari’s government, then we have a disaster on our hands.

The President needs to take back control of his government. Schemes and machinations intended to influence the appointment of people into strategic and important positions should not be tolerated. If his close advisers will not abide by his pledge to fight corruption then they should be let go.

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