Is Ibrahim Magu a vindictive character?

On Tuesday, March 28, 2017, the Senate put on suspension for two weeks, the screening of 27 nominees of President Muhammadu Buhari, for the office of Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs).

The decision was to protest the displeasure with the continued retention of Ibrahim Magu as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as a result of his failure to get confirmation and approval from the Senate.

It should be noted, however, that such confirmation is a mandatory oversight function of the legislative upper house. According to the resolution of the Senate, the two-week interlude was to enable the Senate President to meet with President Buhari to communicate the sentiments of the chamber concerning Magu, who still officiate as the Acting Chairman of the EFCC.

In the opinion of the Senate, the constitution did not make any provision, in which, the president is granted the powers to retain the nominees already rejected by the Senate.

The Senate concluded that Magu’s case was a clear violation of the constitution of Nigeria. In reaction, the Senior Special Assistant to the President on National Assembly Matters (Senate), Senator Ita Enang said: “We appreciate the Senate, we won’t quarrel with them, we have listened to them, we have taken the points they have made and we will always listen to them and work with them because they are an arm of government.”

In another development, Prof. Itse Sagay, an erudite constitutional lawyer and Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption had a different view on the matter. He said that the Senate’s role in such appointments was “merely” to confirm.

The discordant opinion of the presidential appointees had tended to blow hot and cold. While Enang attempted to land softly, Sagay called-off the bluff of the Senate on the adoption of the word “merely”, which has angered the senators. At this point, we can only note that the face-off between the Senate and the Presidency on Magu is yet to be resolved.

The purpose of this piece is to look at one of the allegations against Magu, who is still Chairman of the EFCC in an Acting capacity. One of the damming allegations against him by the Department of State Services (DSS) is that he used the commission to fight his imaginary or real enemies.

Since the security report on Magu, opinion has varied on whether the acting chairman can actually deploy the legal authority of the commission to fight his enemies. Of all the allegations levelled against Magu, I have found this one an interesting subject to write and drop it on the floor of public opinion.

During the travails of Magu, Senator Peter Nwaoboshi raised a point of order on the floor of the Senate. He said that the EFCC Acting Chairman had been terrorising senators because he was not confirmed, and asked that, he should be removed from the agency with immediate effect. About two days later, the anti-graft agency was said to have concluded arrangements to investigate Nwaoboshi and his younger brother.

The said action of the EFCC was purportedly aimed at the N2.1 billion contract, which was awarded to their corporate interest.It was for the purpose of a contract to supply two government agencies of Delta State.

The supply was actually for the new construction and waste management equipment to the Delta State Direct Labour Agency, and the Delta State Waste Management Board respectively. Evidence has shown that after executing the contract with payment effected in favour of Bilderberg Enterprises Limited, the Nwaoboshis decided to buy some properties in Lagos and Delta states.

For instance, they bought a 12-storey building in Apapa, Lagos, at a cost of N805 million, a warehouse at Apapa wharf in Lagos for N800 million and, that his Bank Verification Number (BVN) is linked to 23 bank accounts.

And lastly, it was alleged that he did not disclose in his assets declaration record with the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) that they operated such several bank accounts.

From the above, it is clear that the EFCC cannot dictate to the Nwaoboshis what they should do with their profit after executing the supply contract. The two brothers were at liberty to invest the said profit in accordance with their decisions. Obviously, the anti-graft agency had no business whatsoever with the profit margin of Bilderberg Enterprises Limited.

That the Nwaoboshis have their BVN traced to 23 bank accounts is a non-issue, but that Nwaoboshi did not declare it on his asset declaration record is a matter for the court of competent jurisdiction to adjudicate upon.

After all, his younger brother is the sole signatory to some of the bank accounts. There is no evidence to indicate that the senator was a signatory to any of the bank accounts after taking his oath of office and allegiance as senator of the Federal Republic.

The question is: is the EFCC Acting Chairman, actually fighting back because his confirmation by the Senate has become a mission impossible?

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