The Majority Leader of the Senate, Ali Ndume, on Wednesday insisted that the lawmakers did not reject the nomination of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
In a text message sent to our correspondent, Ndume stated that the Senate, at the closed door session on Thursday, agreed to withhold Magu’s confirmation pending the decision President Muhammadu Buhari would make on the security report by the Department of State Services that indicted the nominee.
According to him, the rejection of Magu was “brought in” after the collective decision of the lawmakers.
Ndume’s message read, “My position on Magu is clear and I stand by it. Magu has not been rejected.
“Check our Votes and Proceedings (of Thursday); it is clear and concise. The Senate President, (Dr. Bukola Saraki), while reporting the progress of the executive session, said, ‘following the security report on Magu, the Senate decided not to confirm Magu and communicate the same to Mr. President, the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federation.’
“That was our position and the Senate President aptly reported the progress of the executive session. So, I wonder how and where rejection was brought in. We have not rejected him because that cannot be done in a closed session and the confirmation processes have not taken place.”
A check through the Votes and Proceedings of the said date showed that the Senate resolved “not to confirm” Magu based on the DSS report.
The part relating to the confirmation of Magu’s appointment read, “The Senate President reported that the Senate in a closed door session deliberated on issues bordering on the workings of the Senate in particular and the National Assembly in general.
“The Senate also deliberated on the screening of the nominees for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as it relates to the security report on them.
“Following the security report on the EFCC Chairman, the Senate decided not to confirm the chairman and communicate the same to Mr. President.
“The Senate also decided to refer the other nominees to the anti-corruption committee for screening since there was no adverse security report on them.”
The statement read by the Chairman, Senate Committee on Media and Public Affairs, Sabi Abdullahi, shortly after the closed door session, however, said Magu was “rejected” by the Senate.
The statement read, “This is an official statement from the Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. It is the statement on the confirmation of the nomination of the chairman and members of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
“The Senate of the Federal Republic of Nigeria wishes to inform the general public that based on security reports available to the Senate, the Senate cannot proceed and confirm the nomination of Ibrahim Magu Mustapha as the Executive Chairman of the EFCC.
“Accordingly, the Senate hereby rejects the said nomination and has returned the said nomination to Mr. President for further action.”
Ndume had told our correspondent in an exclusive interview on Sunday, before his visit to President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday, that the Senate might consider Magu if Buhari could fault the DSS report.
He said, “The nomination was not rejected. We didn’t confirm him because we needed clarification. Rejection is a different thing. Do we reject somebody in a closed session? We have only stepped down or suspended it because certain clarifications are needed. That is different from rejection. Rejection is that we will write that the nominee has not been confirmed.”
When asked if that indicated the possibility that the Senate could confirm Magu, Ndume said, “He has not been rejected. The truth of the matter is that we were supposed to consider Magu on Thursday.
“Unfortunately, there is a letter from the DSS that we need to get clarification from Mr. President before we could go further.”
When asked if the Senate might go ahead with Magu’s confirmation if Buhari dismissed the DSS report, he replied, “Yes. He (the President) doesn’t have to say ‘I am re-presenting Magu.’ No.”
Ndume added, “Again, the letter (report) was not to the Senate; the letter was addressed to the Clerk (of the Senate) and nobody writes to the Senate except through the Senate President. It was the President who made the nomination and it is not the Senate that clears anybody.
“What is required of us is that when the President nominates someone, the nominee comes with their security clearance. That is where the confusion is.”
But Abdullahi, while briefing journalists on Tuesday, dismissed Ndume’s claim, stating that he (Abdullahi) remained the spokesman for the Senate and whatever he said remained the official statement of the chamber.