The refusal of the Senate to confirm Ibrahim Magu as substantive chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is unconstitutional, the Pioneer chairman, Nuhu Ribadu has declared.
In his reaction to the stand-off between Magu and the Senate, Ribadu stated that going by the Nigerian Constitution, the National Assembly has no business screening Magu or anyone in law enforcement sector.
He said the resistance by the Senate shows that the anti-corruption war is working despite plans to stop it.
“The fight between senate and Magu is another sign that the war is going on very well because everybody wants to stop it. It is a very clear indication that Magu is doing his work and I totally agree with what the government has done in terms of allowing them to continue with the work, Ribadu told The Sun.
He continued, “My own take about subjecting the office of the EFCC leadership to clearance from the National Assembly or the Senate in particular, I think it is unconstitutional. It is wrong because it is possible through that, you will even completely kill this war against corruption. And you will scatter it! And Nigerians do not want that.
“It is against the constitution because the constitution of Nigeria says if you are doing this type of work, if you are in the law enforcement sector or security, you should not be subjected to the scrutiny or approval of the National Assembly. Like the Inspector General of Police does not go through screening; the National Security Adviser does not go through screening; the Director-General of the Department of State Service (DSS) does not go through screening; the Comptroller-General of Immigration does not go through screening; the Comptroller-General of Customs does not go through screening; the Director-General of the National Intelligence Agency (NIA) does not go through screening. All of them. So, why do you single out the EFCC and the ICPC? And they are even doing more in terms of serious work that requires independence more than any of them.
“Going by the spirit of the constitution, the intention of those who wrote that constitution, we are supposed to exclude offices like that from the control of the legislature. I mean, it is a simple fact. Do you expect this National Assembly to clear a person who is prosecuting many of them? So, do you want us to just get someone who will not go and do any work? I mean, we are just being unfair to Nigeria if that is the position we are taking and I feel Nigerians need to look at it and reflect very well on this matter.
“The constitution of Nigeria, at the time when it was promulgated, the intention was not to subject institutions like this to screening. And the case of Magu is a clear indication that the war against corruption is going on very well. I am 100 per cent in support of that.
“Whenever you see a leader or head of the anti-corruption is very quiet and he is a friend to all and he is liked, then the work is not going on.”
Ribadu went further to revealed ways the government can curb corruption to its barest minimum.
“Ways to fight corruption to zero is what is happening now; fight it to a standstill, get people jailed, take the money they have stolen, go after the grand corruption, the big ones that are benefiting.
“Continue to go that direction. It is a tough one, it is a difficult one, but through that gradually, we will get to a point where we will be able to say yes, we will overcome it,” he said.