By Mustapha Usman
The Senate on Wednesday rejected the confirmation of Ibrahim Magu as substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
This is coming eight months after the name of Mr Magu was submitted to the upper legislative chamber for screening.
President of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, announced the screening date during plenary on Tuesday.
Three months ago, the Senate refused to screen Mr Magu, saying that its action was based on a security report by the State Security Services, SSS.
However, the Senate had then given approval for the screening of the four members of the EFCC board whose names were sent alongside Mr Magu by then acting president, Yemi Osinbajo.
The SSS security report, among others alleged that the Acting EFCC boss is occupying a N20 million per year accommodation, allegedly rented for him by someone under EFCC investigation; lives a flamboyant lifestyle and flouted the president’s order against public officers flying first class when he went on pilgrimage.
But in a letter to the Senate in January, President Muhammadu Buhari re-nominated the anti-graft chief for the position.
At the confirmation hearing, the senators took turn to grill the acting chairman of the anti-graft commission and questioned both his sincerity and integrity.
The State Security Service, SSS, had again presented another incriminating security report against the embattled acting EFCC boss.
The deputy senate president, Ike Ekweremadu, asked about the operations of the EFCC on disobeying court orders and cases of human rights abuse.
Another senator, Atai Aidoko, asked about the operational procedure in detaining suspects on investigation, to which Mr Magu said a human rights activist once said that the EFCC cells are like hotel rooms.
On the N20million house rented for him, he said he only stayed there because of its close proximity to work and to avoid late night movement.
Senator Shehu Sani asked Mr Magu “to expatiate on your activities on human rights” and what are his findings “on the activities on the Paris Club fund”.
“How much funds has been recovered since you took charge of the commission.” Another senator, Duro Faseyi, quipped.
Mr Magu said it is difficult to give report on how much has been recovered from fight against corruption, saying the agency is not always right on its decisions but strives to do its best.
A senator from Bauchi, Hamma Misau, questioned why governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria who released money to Dasuki is not being investigated by the EFCC.
In response to Mr Misau’s question on Dasuki, Mr Magu said EFCC had invited all who needs to be invited.
When its the turn of Dino Melaye, he read Paragraph 14 of the new SSS letter Senate on Mr Magu, which says “In the light of the foregoing, Magu has failed the integrity test.
“Every nominee before the Senate, we do request for screening by DSS. It did not start with you (Magu) and it won’t end with you,” Mr Melaye said.
Mr Magu said two reports were submitted in one day about him and that questions the integrity of the SSS as well.
“Myself and Senator Dino Melaye have been fighting corruption before he became a Senator,” Mr Magu added.
But Senator Olujimi interjected, saying “Mr Magu, I feel for you. it is clear there are inter-agency problem in Nigeria.”
It is however unclear if the president will re-present his name again or appoint another person as the chairman of the commission.