The Senate yesterday denounced the position of its Leader, Senator Ali Ndume, that the Upper Chamber did not reject the nomination of the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
The upper chamber insisted yesterday, that Magu’s nomination was actually rejected. That was as the apex legislative chamber also refuted reports in the media that it was facing some cracks within the leadership as a result of the utterances of Ndume on Magu’s failed confirmation.
Making clarifications on the resolution of the Senate on Magu’s confirmation hearing, which did not hold last week Thursday as earlier scheduled on the Senate’s Order Paper, Spokesman of the Senate, Senator Aliyu Sabi, said that the Senate rejected the nomination based on security report submitted to it by the Department of State Services (DSS). Sabi also said that the Senate did not receive two security reports on Magu as claimed by the Senate Leader, noting however, that the purported second report was allegedly sent to the Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on National Assembly Matters (Matters), Senator Ita Enang.
On the allegation that the security report upon which Magu was rejected by the Senate was not signed by anybody, the Spokesman said that it was not possible for the Senate to act on a document that was not signed. Commenting on Ndume’s statement that the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Engr. Babachir Lawal, was not indicted by the Senate, Sabi noted that the motion which gave rise to the probe that indicted the SGF was sponsored by Senators Baba Kaka Garbai and Ali Ndume.
The lawmaker maintained that the position of the Senate on Magu last Thursday had not changed and that only the position stated by him (Sabi) should be regarded as the position of the Senate, stressing that the leader could not be the spokesman of the Senate, neither could he do the work of the Senate leader. His words: “The call to national duty is crucial.
So, I am here based on series of calls and text messages from you about what you think are conflicting messages. It has been become critical for the Senate to clarify issues. “The Eighth Senate believes in its integrity. We uphold and promote the rule of law, which is the basic thing about our democracy.
We are committed to doing things differently to stabilize the polity in the collective interest of Nigerians. “I would like to make the following clarifications: I’m holding the votes and proceeding of Thursday.
We had two votes and proceedings because we had to go into joint session to receive President Muhammadu Buhari. “Our votes and proceedings are the official records of what transpired in the chamber. I briefed you on Thursday to the effect that the Senate is announcing that in view of security reports available to the Senate, we were unable to confirm Magu.
“We then rejected and returned the nomination to Buhari for further action. Media reports emerging, especially from interviews granted by Senator Ndume, meant we have to clarify issues. “For the records, I am the official spokesman of the Senate and I intend to discharge this with honour and integrity because the sanctity of the institution is crucial to the sustenance of democracy. To clarify, I have only one point of reference, which is, the votes and proceedings.
“The Senate also deliberated on EFFC with regard to security report available, but referred the other nominees to the Senate Committee on Anticorruption for screening since nothing was found about them.
“This is the only official position of the Senate. What I say, I say on behalf of the Senate. Nigerians should be guided. There is no ambiguity in what we said.” He continued: “Senate is an institution and we are working with the Constitution, and whatever rules we use, our powers are drawn from the con stitution.
“We also want the media to be guided on the matter because of some misleading news in the public domain. “Even with respect to SGF, you as journalists can do your proper investigation. The Genesis was the motion raised by Senator Kaka and Senator Ndume and the Senate decided to take a look at the abuses and SGF was found to be part of the abuse”. On the allegation of two separate reports, Sabi said: “Truth is sacrosanct. For every line of command, there is a line of communication.
For the records, the leader that I know is Saraki and the administrative leader is the Clerk to the Senate. As a routine, when you have a nominee, security report should be given.
“The report we are talking about was sent to the Acting Clerk of the Senate. If you talk about two reports, which one is the second one? I heard a report was sent to the Senior Special Assistant to the President of the Senate, Senator Ita Enang but I am not holding brief for him.
“He is a liaison officer and if there is any communication, Saraki or Clerk is in charge. It will be unfortunate for anyone to say that Senate will be subjected to a report sent to the liaison officer. This does not undermine his office. He is one of the highest-ranking officers. Let us not bring Ita Enang to crossfire. It is the prerogative of the Senate and they have exercised that prerogative.”
Speaking further on whether the Senate would consider Magu’s case if resubmitted by President Buhari, he noted that “we are all guided by processes. If Buhari is going to resubmit the communication for re-nomination, he must come with the necessary reports, either negative or positive.” While confirming that the report on Magu was signed, he said, “the report was signed. The Senate can’t just get a document from anywhere and work with it. Even petitions are signed, let alone a serious matter like this.”
On the alleged crack in the Senate as a result of Ndume’s statement, Sabi said: “The Senate leader is the Senate leader, but I am the spokesman; he can’t do my job and I can’t do his job. He is my leader and I am his spokesman, but we have different responsibilities.”
He noted that Nigerians were more interested in seeing how the government could take them out of the economic recession rather being treated to further state of tension. “Nigerians are looking forward to all of us to take them out of recession. The media should also be guided to create environment for leadership to avoid tension,” he admonished.