President Muhammadu Buhari and the Senate are set for a collision as the Upper House has rejected his clean bill for the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Babachir Lawal and the re-nomination of Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The Senate had rejected Magu as substantive EFCC chairman and accused Lawal of corruption by awarding contracts for Internally-Displaced Persons (IDPs) to companies he owned.
But Buhari, in separate letters on Magu and Lawal to the Senate, said that the Upper House did not give the SGF fair hearing.
In a reaction to the President’s action, Senate spokesman, Senator Aliyu Abdullahi Sabi, said that the Upper House stands by its decision on the two officials and will go ahead to complete its investigation into the diversion of funds meant for the IDPs and reconstruction of the North East zone.
Buhari had in a letter read during plenary yesterday by the Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki, re-nominated Magu as EFCC’s Chairman and cleared Lawal of alleged corruption based on the report of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami.
The President requested the Upper House to reconsider its rejection of Magu as the substantive chairman of the EFCC.
Saraki had read the President’s letter after the Senate returned from its one and half hours closed-door session.
Buhari recalled that the Senate in a letter No. NASS /85/R/016 dated 15th December, 2016 conveyed to him its resolution not to confirm the appointment of Magu as the chairman of the EFCC based on security report issued by the Department of State Services (DSS) and addressed to the Senate via a letter dated 3rd October, 2016.
He said: “I have taken due note of the contents of the aforesaid resolution as it concerns the nominee, particularly the conclusion of the Distinguished Senate not to confirm the nomination of Magu due to a security report on the nominee issued by the Department of State Services (DSS) and addressed to the Senate via a letter dated 3rd October. 2016.
But, the Chairman of the Ad-hoc Committee on the Diversion of North East Funds, Senator Shehu Sani said Buhari’s letter clearing the SGF of corruption allegations “is a funeral service for the anti-corruption fight.”
Coming under Order 43, Sani said: “It is shocking to me that such a letter can come from the Presidency with such misinformation and outright distortions.
“They lied by saying that the committee didn’t invite the SGF: the committee invited the SGF and the letter was acknowledged by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the SGF, Mr. Aminu (Nadehu) spelling not sure.
“To make sure that we buttressed our point, we made a paid advert in three or four national dailies: this one was published on December 2, 2016 and the SGF is clearly mentioned as one of those that are expected to come and appear before the National Assembly,” he said.
According to the Kaduna-born politician, “If they have the intention of simply reaching a predetermined conclusion by covering up on the issues raised by the committee, that is one thing.
“Second, the issue was raised that only three members of the committee signed that interim report, that was also a second lie coming from the Presidency.
“I have a copy of the interim report which was initially signed by seven members of the nine- members of that committee and I am going to submit it to the Clerk of the Senate.
“Even if it is nine and then three people signed, we still have a quorum, but here I have seven people.
“I will say also that I listened to the list of the names that were read and they omitted the chairman who is myself. I know that I am not very big in frame but I believe my name shouldn’t have been omitted,” he said.