A source in the Presidency told NE last night that President Buhari “will not abandon Magu.”
There were indications yesterday that the government may renominate Magu for the beleaguered office for the third time.
It was however learnt that the President may step into the row by opening talks with the leadership of the National Assembly and other stakeholders, including the Department of State Security Service (DSS).
The two organisations invited Magu to London to speak at an international conference on money laundering and assets recovery on March 2.
The Executive Secretary of PACAC, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye, who spoke exclusively with our correspondent, said all the advisers to the President on corruption have discovered that the Senate acted on old report.
Owasanoye said: “There was no fresh investigation conducted by the DSS. The Senate only relied on the old report. The DSS did not provide any new information for the Senate.
“For all intents and purposes, we believe it was unfair for the senators to reach the conclusion they have reached.
“We think there was no new information from the DSS. The Senate ought not to have rejected Magu
“The Senate was privy to two reports from the DSS. It ought to have satisfied itself by considering the two and not one as it did.
“The Senate also knew that the President had looked into the two reports and sent his conclusion to them, but they did not take cognizance of the President’s letter which overrides the DSS reports.
“Even when Magu told the Senate that he was not with his response to the query issued to him, we expected the Senate to have asked him to bring his defence the following day in the spirit of fairness.
“If you look at the proceeding in the Senate, there were too many gaps to be closed.”
Asked of the committee members’ position on Magu, the PACAC Secretary said: “We believe that there is nothing inhibiting him from being in office as the Acting EFCC chairman. We are of the opinion that he should remain in office.
“If you look at Section 171 of the 1999 Constitution, the President is empowered to retain him as long as he wants in acting capacity. As long as the President remains in office, Magu can continue to act as EFCC chairman.”
Responding to a question, Owasanoye added: “If there is something new, we would have modified our position.
“But the Senate acted on old report without considering the President’s points in the re-nomination letter.”
According to Section 171 (1) of the 1999 Constitution, power to appoint persons to hold or act in the offices to which this section applies and to remove persons so appointed from any such office shall rest in the President.
(2) The offices to which this section applies are namely
(a) Secretary to the Government of the Federation.
(b) Head of the Civil Service of the Federation.
(c) Ambassador, High Commissioner or other principal Representative of Nigeria abroad.
(d) Permanent Secretary in any Ministry or Head of any Extra-Ministerial Department of the Government of the Federation howsoever designated; and
(e) any office on the personal staff of the President.
(3) An appointment to the office of the Head of Civil Service of the Federation shall not be made except from among the Permanent Secretaries or equivalent rank in the Civil Service of the Federation or of a State.
(4) An appointment to the office of Ambassador, High Commissioner, or other Representative of Nigeria abroad shall not have effect unless the appointment is confirmed by the Senate.
(5) In exercising his powers of appointment under this section, the President shall have regard to the federal character of Nigeria and the need to promote national unity.
(6) Any appointment made pursuant to paragraphs (a) and (e) of subsection (2) of this section shall be at the pleasure of the President and shall cease when the President cease to hold office;
Provided that where a person has been appointed from a public service of the Federation or a State, he shall be entitled to return to the public service of the Federation or of the State when the President ceases to hold office.”
As at press time, it was gathered that the presidency may nominate Magu for the third time.
It was learnt that President Buhari may step into the controversy over Magu before effecting a re-nomination.
A highly-placed source said: “I think the Presidency will re-nominate Magu. His advisers on the fight against corruption want Magu retained.
“But the President is likely to engage the leaders of the National Assembly, especially the President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Dogara.
“There is likelihood that the session might be enlarged to include some stakeholders like the DSS leadership.
Speaking with our correspondent last night, a presidency source said in confidence: “The President is set to receive official communication from the Senate. But I can assure you that the President will not abandon Magu.
Barely few days after the Senate rejected his nomination, Magu has been invited by two leading anti-corruption organisations, the Transparency International and Global Witness to speak at an international conference on money laundering and assets recovery on March 21, 2017 in London.
He is expected to deliver a paper on the topic: Give Us Our Money Back – Nigeria’s Fight Against Corruption: A Critical Conversation.
A statement by the Head of Media and Publicity of EFCC, Mr. Wilson Uwujaren said: “The invitation from the Global Witness and Transparency International is in recognition of the invaluable role the Magu-led EFCC has played in his more than one year in office in recovery of stolen funds.
“ It also coincidentally comes a few days after members of the Nigerian Senate chose to overlook the strides achieved by Magu and instead refused his re-nomination by President Muhammadu Buhari as the substantive chairman of the EFCC.
“The international conference, which is coming on the heels of the 2016 London Anti-Corruption Summit, will focus on the progress of Nigeria’s asset recovery and anti-corruption efforts.
“It will also feature a panel of discussions for “critical exchange of views” between officials and non-government experts from Nigeria and the United Kingdom.
“A few international personalities have been invited along with Magu to participate in the conference.
“Among those from Nigeria are Lai Mohammed, Minister of Information; Prof. Itse Sagay, Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption, PACAC; its secretary, Prof. Bolaji Owasanoye and Olanrewaju Suraju of the Human and Environmental Development Agenda.”