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The Senate will not rescind its decision to reject the appointment of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu, to substantive capacity, New Telegraph investigations have revealed.
This is, however, notwithstanding its official statement to welcome President Muhammadu Buhari’s peace initiative on the deteriorating Executive/ Legislative face-off. Most of the senators, who spoke to our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, for obvious implications, said that the move by the President to broker peace and end the current executive-legislative acrimony was welcome. Ironically, they reasoned that though such move was a responsible initiative, the upper chamber would, by no means, be persuaded by anybody to reverse its position on Magu.
The lawmakers said that they would be surprised and embarrassed too, if President Buhari should attempt to convince the Senate to confirm Magu, in total disregard to the report of the Department of State Services (DSS), which indicted the EFCC acting chairman of corruption. According to the lawmakers, Buhari’s insistence that Magu must be confirmed to head the anti- graft agency, despite the unfavourable security report on him, is antithetical to his (Buhari’s) professed fight against corruption in the country. One of the senators said: “The decision of Mr. President to broker peace between the Senate and the executive is a welcome development. It shows that he is aware and also worried that the current bickering between the two arms of the same government is not healthy for our democracy.
“As a senator, I am also seriously concerned about the recurring quarrels between the National Assembly and the Executive because it is negatively affecting governance; it is hampering development. However, as important as the peace initiative is, it cannot be to persuade us to confirm Magu because there is a pending security report against him.” Another senator also told New Telegraph that: “The President did well by setting up a committee to reconcile the Senate and the executive, but that reconciliation effort cannot make the Senate to change its position on Ibrahim Magu because we cannot sweep the DSS’ report under the carpet. ”
In fact, I am of the opinion that President Buhari is setting a bad precedence in this country by not removing Magu from that office, three weeks after the Senate rejected his nomination for the second time.
Nigerians all know that Senate did not reject him based on its own report or observation, but based on security report from the DSS.” Also speaking, one of the senators noted that by setting up a reconciliation committee to bring the two arms harmoniously together, President Buhari had demonstrated that he was concerned about the adverse effects of continuous bickering between the Senate and the executive.
The lawmaker, however, frowned that the President had not thought it necessary to take decisive actions on critical resolutions of the Senate on some public officers serving in the executive arm. He stated that his silence on Magu and Col. Hameed Ali (rtd), the Comptroller of Nigerian Customs Service (NCS), was encouraging them to disregard and disrespect the apex chamber.
“Peace is good and every sane human being wants to have peace. However, if President Buhari really wants to have peace with the parliament, let him call his appointees to order and also comply with the resolutions of the Senate.
“I am telling you this, and I want you to take this seriously, if it is about Magu, that initiative will not yield fruit. In fact, his removal of Magu from that office will mark the beginning of any peace initiative; else, we will continue to deceive ourselves, and there won’t be any peace at the end of the day.
The Customs boss also needs to be cautioned and disciplined by the President for being rude to the Senate.” One of the senators who spoke with our correspondent on the condition of anonymity, described as bizarre, the President’s insistence on Magu, in spite of the indictment from the DSS.
“I can best describe what is happening as bizarre because the President gave the impression that he was going to fight corruption and rout it out from our system. But unfortunately, his body language speaks to the contrary. For God’s sake, what is so unique and special about Magu? I am saying this because we have also heard that the socalled peace initiative was targeted at persuading the Senate to confirm Magu.
“I wish him luck in whatever he is doing to bring the two arms of government together because it will enhance good governance and rapid development in the country, which is why we are in government. But if it is to apply diplomacy and get Senate to confirm Ibrahim Magu, that will be a great miracle if it happens because I will liken it to raising the dead from grave,” the lawmaker said.
Meanwhile, senators have reacted to the call by Muslim Rights Concerns (MURIC), in which it urged President Buhari to shut down the Senate before the Chamber could shut down the people, accusing the apex assembly of sliding into authoritarian dictatorship. Senator Yele Omogunwa (APC, Ondo South) reminded the group that Nigeria is running a democratic system that is anchored on separation of powers, which provides for checks and balances, stressing that no arm has the constitutional power to shut down another arm. “Have you forgotten that there is separation of powers for checks and balances?
Their call is an indication that they do not understand the meaning of democracy. The framers of the constitution are wise enough not to allow for what they are calling for,” he said. Similarly, Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe (PDP, Abia South) pointed out that such call was borne out of ignorance, because it is undemocratic and unconstitutional for the President to contemplate shutting down any arm of government. “Anyone making such call is unaware that we are running a constitutional democracy. No arm of government can shut down another arm of government,” Abaribe told New Telegraph.