By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Christiana Ekpa
The Senate has renewed its call for the replacement of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The spokesman of the Senate, Aliyu Sabi, who briefed journalists after the plenary to express the pleasure of the Red Chamber over a court judgement, said the recent court judgement in suit between the Senate (defendant) and a private citizen, Oluwatosin OJaomo, (plaintiff), has vindicated Senate to have the constitutional powers to reject or confirm appointees of President.
He said Senate’s rejection of Magu has been strengthened by a court judgement which affirmed the powers of Senate in confirmation of Presidential nominees, adding that the senate earlier stands on not confirming the nominees of the President until Magu is removed as the Acting chairman of EFCC still stands.
He recalled that twice the senate received the nomination of Magu and rejected twice, adding that the President must withdraw the statement that the senate does not have the powers to reject the appointees of the President but should just confirm.
While commending the judiciary for being the last hope of the common man and the democracy, Sabi said the judge in the judgement ruled that the senate has powers to confirm or reject the nominees of the President.
Meanwhile, the court judgement made available to journalists showed that, a private citizen, Mr. Oluwatosin Ojaomo in a 20 paragraph affidavit sought a declaratory order of the court to determine if Senate has powers to confirm Mr. Ibrahim Magu as Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The plaintiff (Ojaomo)’s move was at the instance of Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo’s earlier statement that Magu’s confirmation might not be needed to pass through the Senate.
Osibanjo, a professor of Law drew inspiration from Femi Falana (SAN)’s position that Ibrahim Magu needed not to go through Senate if Mr. President has decided to appoint him. He cited provisions of the Constitution, 1999 as amended to substantiate his point.
In the suit, Hon. Justice J.T. Tsoho relied on statutory provisions of EFCC Act in section 2(3) which states inter alia: “the Chairman and members of the Commission other ex-officio members shall be appointed by the President and the appointment shall be be subject to confirmation of the Senate.”
“Accordingly, the import of section 2(3) of the EFCC Act is that the appointment of a Chairman made by the President is dependent on confirmation by the Senate”, the document indicated.
Meanwhile, the Senate has said it will meet with President Muhammadu Buhari led executive to discuss the possibility of including the Nigerian Army among the agencies of government whose budget should be in the first line charge to enable the Nigerian military draw their revenue directly from the federation account.
The Senate Committee on Army, headed by Gorge Akumeh, made this disclosure at the 2018 budget defence of the Nigerian Army, during which the committee lamented what it described as poor and inadequate releases of the 2017 budget of the Army by the finance ministry.
According to the chairman of the committee, the army has done very well within the contest of what is released to them. He expressed hope that if the budget of the army is released early and acted on, they will do much better.
“The financial implication of Nigeria security challenges is enormous and there is need to ensure 100% releases by the government”, he said.
James Manager, who specifically made the advocacy for a first line charge for the military, said for the country to survive, there is the need for peace, adding that national security is where the relevance of the army comes.
While pointing out that the army is already overworked due to the enormity of the insecurity in the country, Manager lamented that yet there is lack of tools to enable them tackle the challenges facing the country, pointing out that adequate funding of the Nigerian army is a prerequisite for the survival of the Nigeria as a country.
Also, Senator Alaosaudora, emphatically warned that the senate does not want any abandoned project, suggesting that this should be taken into consideration in roll over plans of the army.
He urged the army hierarchy to prioritise the old projects which were captured in the last budget before initiating new ones. This, he said will help in very significant level to address the issues of abandoned projects.
Also, Senator Ibrahim Danbaba, in his remarks, regretted that even in cases where the senate proposed adequate funds for the army, the government often reduces the budget and even release less than what is approved by the senate.
Defending the 2018 budget of the Nigerian Army, the Chief of Army Staff, General Tukur Buratai, said only 57 per cent of the army’s budget proposal in the 2017 was released, adding that it is not enough for the military to fight effectively the insecurity across the country and north east in particular.
He intimated the senate that the army has expanded its division from five to eight divisions and are currently fighting insurgency across the states. Buratai further lamented that the envelop system had affected their efforts at achieving result desired in fighting insurgency, especially given that the funding issues have affected the allowances of the soldiers.
The army chief called for the exemption of the army from the envelop system, because of the current structural changes in funding the fight against security threats. He promised that the army will not allow abandoned projects, as they only commence project they have the funds to complete.