Buhari writes Senate, clears SGF BD Lawal and EFCC’s Ibrahim Magu.

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Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir David Lawal, may have something to smile about as the Presidency has written the Senate, to allow him remain in office.

Recall that on Wednesday, December 14, 2016, Senate demanded the SGF’s resignation and prosecution, over alleged infractions involving public procurement, particularly, contract awards by the Presidential Initiative on North0East (PINE).

Following an interim report of Senate’s Ad-Hoc Committee on Mounting Humanitarian Crisis in North-East, the Red Chamber indicted the SGF of sharp practices, in expending funds meant for alleviating sufferings of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the North-East.

The report also said Lawal allegedly owns one of the companies which awarded contracts in the rehabilitation of the North-East.

The report equally said Lawal resigned from the directorship of the company in September, 2016, but was still a signatory to the company’s account.

Thereafter, Senate wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari, demanding Lawal resign from the cabinet.

In his reaction, Buhari ordered the Attorney General of the Federation and Justice Minister, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to investigate Lawal and the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, on corruption charges.

Two letters from the Presidency landed in the Senate on Sunday, January 22, 2017.

The first letter urged the Senate to set aside its December 14, 2016 resolution calling for Lawal’s resignation and continue with legislating for the country.

The second ostensibly re-nominated Magu as EFCC chair.

A top Senate source confirmed to newsmen, last night, that the president has re-nominated Magu.

“I can confirm that to you,” he said.

On the SGF’s clearance, the source simply quipped: “I don’t know about that one.”

Regardless, it was gathered that, during Saraki’s meeting with president Buhari on December 29, 2016, at the Presidential Villa, Magu’s rejection came up for discussion.

Buhari was said to have told Saraki he was not ready to substitute Magu’s name, despite the Department of State Services (DSS) report which indicted him.

Source revealed that the Attorney-General of the Federation’s probe gathered that Magu was not living in a multi-national apartment in Abuja.

It was also learnt that the allegation that Magu once flew in a chartered aircraft with a bank MD, whose bank was once invited over funds by the former Minister of Petroleum, Mrs. Diezani Alison-Madueke, to Maiduguri, Borno State was unfounded, as it was discovered that the MD had never been to the state capital all his life.

Although Saraki did not explicitly make any commitment to Buhari, to ensure that Magu’s name scales through in the chamber, those familiar with the outcome of the meeting, said the Senate President did not object to assist Magu during the confirmation hearing.

On December 15, 2016, Senate Spokesman, Abdullahi Sabi, after an Executive Session, announced Magu’s rejection to the Senate Press Corps.

Sabi based the action of the Red Chamber on a damning report by the DSS.

Sabi said then: “The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to inform the general public that based on security reports available to the lawmakers, we could not proceed and confirm the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the executive Chairman of EFCC. 

“Accordingly, the Senate hereby rejects the said nomination and has returned the said nomination to Mr. President for further action. There is no confusion here. We have said it is based on security reports. 

“Please, all public officers go for security screening and we are saying based on security reports, we cannot proceed and confirm. We are rejecting it and returning it to Mr. President for further actions. That is just the statement. It is as simple as that. That is exactly what the Senate has said and I don’t have any other explanation more than this,” Sabi said.

Former Senate Leader Ali Ndume, who was one of the key lawmakers, who lobbied for Magu, was removed a fortnight ago by members of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) caucus in the Red Chamber.

He was replaced by Senator Ahmed Lawan, who has since assumed duty.

Meanwhile, Justice Mojisola Olatoregun Ishola of the Federal High Court, Lagos will on February 13 hear a suit against Magu for still parading himself as Chairman.

The suit was instituted by a lawyer and activist, Mr. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa.

The lawyer is praying the court to restrain Magu from parading himself as such.

Adegboruwa is also asking the Senate not to entertain any further request for Magu’s confirmation.

The defendants are the Senate, the Attorney-General of the Federation, the EFCC and Magu.

When the case came up yesterday, Adegboruwa announced appearance for the plaintiff. But there was no representative for the defendants.

Justice Olatoregun adjourned the suit to February13 and ordered service of processes on the defendants.

In a 39 paragraphs affidavit deposed to by Adegboruwa, he traced the appointment of Magu back to November 9, 2015, contending that he had been functioning in acting capacity as EFCC Chairman, beyond the six months allowed by law.

Adegboruwa said since the Senate had rejected Magu, he could not thereafter be illegally functioning in acting capacity.

Citing the provisions of section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act, Adegboruwa argued that the section makes confirmation by the Senate, a condition precedent to the appointment of the EFCC chairman.

He argued that since the provision of Section 2 (3) of the EFCC Act was activated by forwarding the nomination of Magu to the Senate, he could not defy the decision of the Senate, which rejected him for the substantive appointment.

Adegboruwa stated that notwithstanding the clear decision of the Senate not to confirm Magu, he has continued to parade himself as EFCC Chairman.

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