The Federal High Court in Abuja has validated Senate’s rejection of Mr. Ibrahim Magu as acting chairman of the EFCC, ruling that the Senate is conferred with the authority to ensure the choice of “only suitable and credible persons for appointment to the office”.
A lawyer, Mr Oluwatosin Ojamo had filed a suit in January 2017, questioning whether the Senate President and the Senate can reject a valid appointment made by the President as it relates to Acting ECFF Chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu, in accordance with the provisions of the EFCC Act.
Ojamo had also questioned if the upper legislative chamber can refuse to confirm any appointment made by Buhari to the office of the anti-graft agency.
Joined as respondents in the suit are Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki, and the Attorney-General of the Federation, AGF.
The presiding judge, Justice Tsoho, however, ruled on January 15, 2018 that contrary to the plaintiff’s submission, section 2 subsection 3 states that the chairman and members of the commission other than the ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President and the appointment shall be subject to a confirmation of the Senate.
He pointed out that the use of the word “shall” in a legislation usually denotes mandatories, while the plaintiff recognises the use of the word “shall” as conferring the mandatory and unqualified powers of the President to appoint the chairman of the EFCC.
The judge also held that doing otherwise would give the impression that “the Senate only exists to rubberstamp the President’s appointment of a chairman for the EFCC, and such viewpoint is misconceived and runs counter to the proper interpretation of section 2 subsection 3 of the EFCC Act.”
The court’s ruling was conveyed to newsmen yesterday by the Senate spokesman, Sabi Abdullahi, who asked President Muhammadu Buhari to as a matter of urgency sack Magu, reiterating that senators would not confirm nominees of Central Bank of Nigeria, CBN, unless Magu is replaced.
The lawmakers advised President Muhammadu Buhari to comply with the court judgment, warning that failure to do that, it would henceforth not attend to nominations from the Presidency
Abdullahi stressed that the impasse would persist until its power of confirmation of nominees to the boards of commissions established by enabling laws, but not listed in the 1999 Constitution as amended was clarified.
His words: “By this (court) judgment, for those who have been worried that the MPC never met, I think this is a window for the MPC to see the light in meeting.
“If the Executive does the needful, provide another Nigerian of credible character, of which we have millions of them – 180 million of them – even by arithmetic error, we should be able to get good people.
“So, it is our hope and prayer that our amiable president will find this judgment in order and will be submitting very soon, another nominee, to carry on with the good work of anti-corruption, especially now that we are very proud of him as the AU anti-corruption ambassador.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC boss has insisted that there is no going back in the fight against corruption in Nigeria.
At a press briefing on the outcome of the just-concluded 30th Ordinary Summit of the African Union, AU, in Ethiopia, Magu said the war against corruption in the country will be fought like never before.
“I think you are seeing what we are doing. We are even encouraged by the fact that the Judiciary in Lagos has created a special court and that is a plus,” Magu declared.