A federal high court sitting in Abuja says the senate acted within the law when it rejected the nomination of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
According to the judge, JT Tsoho, the senate is not a rubber stamp body and was only acting in compliance with the EFCC law when it screened and rejected Magu.
The judgment was made available to journalists on Thursday at a press briefing.
Magu was twice rejected as EFCC chairman by the senate, but he has remained in acting position since November 2015.
The suit marked FHC/ABJ/CS/59/2017 in which judgement was delivered, had the senate and Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) as defendants.
Judgement was delivered on the suit on January 15.
Oluwatosin Ojaomo, the plaintiff who filed the suit, had asked the court for ” a declaratory order of the court deeming that the 1st defendant has confirm the appointment by the president of the federal republic of Nigeria of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in accordance with provisions of the EFCC Act, 2004.
“A declaratory order of this honourable court that the 1st defendant does not possess the statutory power reject the appointment of Ibrahim Magu as the chairman of EFCC according to EFCC Act, 2004,” the judge held.
“An order of this honourable court activating it statutory power of the interpretation of the provisions of section 2 (1)(a)(I)(ii)(III) and 2(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004 with respect to the appointment of the chairman of the EFCC by the president of federal republic of Nigeria and the subsequent confirmation of the appointment by the senate of the national assembly of federal republic of Nigeria according to the dictates of the law.”
Tsoho held that in as much as the president had powers to appoint, the senate has same to powers to confirm or reject.
He said the plaintiff’s view that the senate only exists as a rubber stamp of the president is “misconceived.”
“The EFCC Act, 2004. Section 2(3) provides as follows – ‘The chairman and members of the commission other than ex-officio members shall be appointed by the president and the appointment shall be subject to confirmation of the senate’. Firstly, the use of the word shall in a legislation usually denotes mandatoriness,” Tsoho said while delievering the judgement.
“Therefore, while the plaintiff recognises the use of the word shall as conferring mandatory and unqualified powers on the president to appoint the chairman of the EFCC, sight must not be lost that the same word is used in respect of confirmation by the senate of such appointment.
“Therefore interpretation of the word shall should logically have the same effect regarding both situations.”
“The senate is thus conferred with authority to ensure the choice of only suitable and credible persons for appointment to that office. The submission of the plaintiff however gives the impression that the senate only exists to rubber stamp the president’s appointment of a chairman.
“Such view point runs counter to the proper intendment of section 2(3) of the EFCC Act and is misconceived.”
Consequently, the judge struck out the suit.
Speaking with journalists on Thursday, Sabi Abdullahi,spokesman of the senate, said Magu “stands rejected” until a superior court upturns the judgement
“What I am telling you that this is the judgement. All I am saying is that for now until another court superior court says otherwise. They have been sending nominees but the issue has not be resolved and the point we are making is very clear,” Abdullahi said.
“The fact that we rejected a nominee, our own understanding of the law and practise is that nominee stands rejected and cannot perform that duty but some people said no you can give him acting capacity.”
He added that national assembly would not starve the EFCC of funds because Magu was rejected by the senate.