Minute by Minute: The day Senate rejected Ibrahim Magu as EFCC Chairman
Exactly three months after he was rejected by the Senate to have him confirmed as the substantive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu suffered the same fate on Wednesday when the Senate declined to confirm him for the second time, citing a damning letter by the Department of State Services (DSS) as reason for the decision.
The Senate also said Magu should cease to act as the chairman of the anti-graft commission and a replacement should be sent by the president for confirmation.
The letter of the DSS dated March 14, 2017, which was almost similar to the first one that led to his rejection last December, indicted him for corruption, living a double life, and concluding that Magu lacks the integrity and was not fit for the purpose to head the EFCC.
Following his rejection by the Senate last December, President Muhammadu Buhari re-nominated Magu in January, explaining that he had been cleared of wrongdoing, following investigations into the DSS’ allegations by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami.
However, Wednesday’s rejection came after almost two hours of grilling, during which Magu attempted to field questions bordering on the DSS report, his relationship with Air Commodore Mohammed Umar (rtd), internal corruption in the EFCC, allegations of human rights abuses, refusal to obey court orders, inter-agency rivalry and other issues.
The first indication that Magu was up against a brick wall came when Senator Shehu Sani (Kaduna Central), demanded explanations into the circumstances that led to the death of one Desmond Anulogu in EFCC’s custody, since Magu had described the agency’s holding cells as similar to hotels.
In his response, the acting EFCC boss said the death was unfortunate.
On the first DSS report, which was again raised by the Senators, Magu initially said he was not prepared to defend himself against the report of the DSS, as he had already responded to the President in writing and preferred to “avoid a bad relationship with a sister agency”.
Also, while fielding other questions, Magu did not provide clear answers to some questions and claimed ignorance of some of the allegations against the EFCC bordering on corrupt practices.
He was also unable to provide a figure on the amount of money that has been recovered since he became acting chairman of the EFCC almost two years ago.
One of such questions was a query on how some Certificates of Occupancy (C-of-Os) seized during the raid on the home of an individual, were discovered in the “market”, after some EFCC officials allegedly tried to sell the land linked to the C-of-Os.
The issue, according to Senator Dino Melaye (Kogi West), was now with the police and two of the C-of-Os had been returned to the owner.
Brandishing the DSS report, Magu reminded the Senate that two reports had been written about him by the DSS, but one of the reports was missing.
He also questioned the credibility of the DSS, alleging that the agency did not accord him fair hearing.
“Two different reports submitted the same day about the same person, that goes to tell you the credibility of such an institution. What does it say of an agency that submitted two varying reports on the same person the same day?
“On the case of the stolen C-of-Os, it is not everything that is done in the EFCC I have knowledge of. The EFCC is too big, if not for today, I did not know that there was a case pending against EFCC staff with the police.
“But I will now go back and investigate it and give you feedback after my investigation,” Magu said.
Explaining his relationship with Commodore Mohammed, Magu said they did not know each other until their appointment as members of Arms Procurement Panel set up by the presidency.
He, however, did not address the allegations that he flew on a private jet owned by Commodore Mohammed, or other allegations raised on his association with the retired air force officer in the report.
Magu, nonetheless, clarified that his official residence belongs to the estate of the former Minister of Information, Prof. Dora Akunyili, now late, whose son needed money to return to the U.S. and rented the house to him.
Aside the report of the DSS, the Senate also based its decision on what it described as Magu’s lacklustre performance during the screening exercise on Wednesday, abysmal attempts at answering questions, and not defending himself over the allegations raised against him in the report.
Senator Ali Ndume (Borno South), an avid supporter of Magu, however, raised a point of order indicating that the letter from the DSS was not signed by the director-general of the agency.
“I have two letters here. None of them is addressed to you (Senate President). One is addressed to the Clerk, one is addressed to the National Assembly.