Buhari May Block NASS Final Push to Oust Magu

The new bill stipulates EFCC must be headed by AIG, not ACP Senate set to concur with bill already passed by Reps

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EFCC Chairman - Magu
EFCC Chairman - Magu

Soni Daniel

A final push by the National Assembly to oust the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has virtually been consummated with a bill to that effect already passed by the House of Representatives pending concurrence by the Senate this week.

Competent NASS sources said Sunday night that the bill, which was passed by the House of Representatives two weeks ago, deliberately jerks the qualification for the office of the chairman of the anti-crime agency from Assistant Commissioner of Police, ACP, to Assistant Inspector General of Police, AIG, aims to replace Magu with a superior police officer before the 9th NASS takes off on June 11, 2019.

But Presidency sources hinted the President might not assent to the bill even if the Senate concurred with the House of Representatives before the end of the current 8th NASS.

Magu, who was recently promoted to the rank of a Commissioner of Police, CP, has had a running battle with the NASS having been rejected twice and having been represented the same number of times by President Muhammadu Buhari for the same post.

The bill was spearheaded by some arrowheads in the House immediately the Senate rejected Magu’s confirmation for the second time and the refusal of the Presidency to replace him as demanded by the lawmakers.

But it was not clear last night how the lawmakers hoped to get the bill passed and assented to by the Presidency before the expiration of the current NASS, which does not have more than a few days to wind up and pave the way for the 9th NASS on June 11.

Incidentally, the Senate has few days to go as the lawmakers will only sit on Tuesday, May 28 (tomorrow) as there is a public holiday on May 29 (Inauguration day).

The current National Assembly is expected to be dissolved on June 7 while the 9th NASS will be inaugurated on June 11.

Details of the new bill sighted last night by Vanguard, effectively seeks to amend certain sections of the EFCC Establishment Act of 2004 and raises the bar for the appointment of the head of the agency.

To give effect to that, four House bills seeking to amend the EFCC Act had been harmonised into one and it passed the third reading on Tuesday.

The passage followed the adoption of the report by the House Committee on Financial Crimes.

In the series of amendments to the Act, the lawmakers amended Section 2 of the EFCC Act relating to the composition of the commission.

Before the amendment, Section 2 read, “(1) the commission shall consist of the following members: (a) a chairman, who shall (i) be the Chief Executive and Financial Officer of the commission; (ii) be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent; and (iii) possess not less than 15 years cognate experience.”

After the amendment, it reads, “(a) A Chairman, who shall (i) be a retired or serving member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Inspector-General (AIG) of Police or an equivalent and possessing not less than 20 years cognate experience; (ii) a legal practitioner with at least 20 years post-call experience.”

The Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, is a commissioner of police. The House also removed the Secretary of the EFCC from tenured offices in the leadership of the commission.

On the qualifications to be considered in the appointment of the EFCC Secretary, a paragraph “e” was added to Section 8(1), which reads, “A person who is qualified to practise as a legal practitioner in Nigeria and has been so qualified for not less than 10 years.”

An amendment was also made to Section 27(4), making it compulsory for the EFCC to obtain ex-parte order from court before seizing suspected assets.

Also, the House deleted Section 1(2) relating to the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, which has now been domiciled with the Central Bank of Nigeria as demanded by the EGMONT Group, from the EFCC Act.

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