Strong indications have emerged that members of the Senate are angry with Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo over his recent comment that the appointment of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission did not need legislative approval.
Osinbajo’s comment, going by the reactions gathered from senators on Saturday, may frustrate the reconciliatory move by the Presidency on the recent crisis between the executive and the legislature.
The lawmakers also hinted that the Senate may seek the help of the judiciary on the enforcement of its rejection of Magu.
According to them, the upper chamber of the National Assembly may need to approach the judiciary for the correct interpretation of the rejection of Magu’s nomination.
Some lawmakers said they were already studying the provisions of the constitution to prove that the acting EFCC chairman should be removed.
They specifically said they wanted to determine who was right on Magu between the executive and the legislature.
The Senate had twice rejected Magu’s nomination by President Muhammadu, citing a security report by the Department of State Services, which indicted the nominee.
The lawmakers had said the rejection of Magu meant that he could not continue to act in the capacity.
But Osinbajo, last week, ruled out the possibility of President Buhari replacing Magu with another nominee. He said the President did not find the DSS report, which is the basis for Magu’s rejection, a strong reason to replace him.
According to the Vice President, despite being rejected twice, the government was still at liberty to renominate Magu.
Senator Shehu Sani (APC/Kaduna Central) berated Osinbajo for his comment, when he was leading a peace committee seeking to manage the crisis between the two arms of government.
He said, “As far as I am concerned, given his position as the chairman of the reconciliation committee, he should have concentrated on ensuring harmony and mobilising support from the Senate, other than making further statements that may further worsen the situation.”
Similarly, Senator Chukwuka Utazi (PDP/Enugu North) faulted Osinbajo, saying, “Any lawyer who says that what the Senate did or its stand is unconstitutional is not telling the whole truth; it is half-truth,” he said.
Utazi, who is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, which has the oversight of the EFCC, stated that Section 60 of the Constitution empowered the Senate to take its action on Magu.
Also, Senator Mao Ohuabunwa (PDP/Abia North) said he was studying what the provisions of the EFCC Act on nomination and confirmation of the agency’s chairman.
He said, “I want to clarify the fact about whether we have the powers to say he shouldn’t act (as chairman of EFCC) because acting appointment is within the powers of the executive. Ours is to confirm the nominee and make the appointment substantive. And I don’t think there is anything in the Act that talks about acting. That is their business.”
In his submission, Senator Rafiu Ibrahim (APC/Kwara South) said Osinbajo spoke as the Vice President and not the President. He said the Senate would take a step when Buhari himself speaks on Magu.
“The Vice President is not the President. We are waiting for the President,” he said.
Also speaking, Senator Isiaka Adeleke (APC/Osun West) said it was the prerogative of Buhari to appoint Magu and that of the Senate to confirm or reject the appointment.
The Chairman, Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Senator Sabi Abdullahi, could not be reached for the position of the Senate on the Presidency’s insistence on Magu. The spokesman was said to be on pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia.