Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo has ruled out the possibility of President Muhammadu Buhari replacing the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, whose nomination has been rejected by the Senate twice.
He said the President did not find the security report prepared by the Department of State Services which is the basis of his rejection a strong reason to replace Magu.
According to a report by an online medium,The Cable, Osinbajo spoke with some journalists from select media houses and social media activists at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
He said that despite being rejected twice, the government was still at liberty to renominate Magu.
He, however, said he aligned himself with the argument of a lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), that Senate confirmation was not needed for the EFCC chairman based on the provisions of Section 171 of the constitution.
He said. “It is up to the Senate to make their judgment (on Magu), and it is up to us say what we want to do. If our candidate is rejected, we can re-present him.
“No law says we can’t re-present him. And again, there is the other argument, whether or not we need to present him for confirmation and that’s a compelling argument from Femi Falana.
“His argument is that under the Constitution, Section 171, and if you look at that section, it talks about the appointments that the President can make. They include appointments of ministers, ambassadors and heads of agencies such as the EFCC.
“In that same Section 171, the Constitution rightly said that certain appointments must go to the Senate such as ministerial and ambassadorial appointments. Those of heads of agencies like the EFCC do not have to go to the Senate.
“That’s what the constitution says. But the EFCC Act, which of course as you know is inferior, says that EFCC chairman should go to the Senate for confirmation.
“I am sure that even a pocket book lawyer knows that when a legislation conflicts with Constitution, it’s the constitution that prevails. I agree with Mr. Falana that there was no need in the first place to have sent Magu’s name to the Senate, but we did so and it was rejected by the Senate, but I believe that it can be re-presented.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong about the fact that Senate has rejected him. Senate has acted in its own wisdom to say ‘No, we don’t want him’, and we can say, ‘This is our candidate… we like the gentleman and we want him to continue.”
The Vice-President said Buhari could have interfered with the DSS report that indicted Magu if he wanted to.
Rather than doing so, he said the President decided to hear Magu’s account, after which he felt convinced to retain him.
“We should commend the President for not interfering with what the DSS said. The DSS came up with a report and the man who was accused refuted it.
“He explains and gives a reason. When that happened, the President looked at what Magu said and what the DSS wrote and he said ‘I am satisfied with what Magu said’.
“He then decided to retain Magu as the nominee for EFCC. I don’t see any reason why that should be contested.
“The President has not interfered with what the DSS said. If he wanted to interfere, he would have ordered the DSS to keep quiet. He didn’t do that, but he said ‘I don’t think the DSS report is meritorious enough to withdraw his nomination.’
“The President reserves the right to say, ‘this is who I want’. I’m fully in support of Magu as the EFCC chairman just as the President is,” Osinbajo said.
The Vice-President also said it was not only in Nigeria that lawmakers reject nominees based on reports.
He said despite the mounting opposition against the nomination of Attorney-General of the US, Jeff Sessions, is currently serving in the administration of President Donald Trump.
“You see the American example… There are various reports. People come up with all sorts of things. Look at Jeff Sessions (US attorney-general) for instance, there were many reports. Some accused him of being a racist, some of this and that, but he is in office today,” he said.