The Presidency and Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) have reacted to the endorsement by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo of the continuous stay of Ibrahim Magu as the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, on Wednesday said Osinbajo’s statement on the confirmation of Magu, was a personal opinion.
In an interview in April, Osinbajo had ruled out the possibility of his principal, Buhari replacing Magu, adding that Senate confirmation was not needed for the EFCC chairman based on the provisions of Section 171 of the constitution.
The statement had peeved the lawmakers at the upper chamber of the National Assembly which subsequently agreed to suspend confirmation of all appointments made by the Presidency.
The senators also asked the acting President to withdraw the statement “without further delay.”
However, Shehu while speaking with journalists in Abuja said the statement was Osinbajo’s personal opinion which he made as vice-president.
He said, “Our understanding is that some remarks made by the Acting President some months ago when he was the Vice-President, because the President was around at that time, an opinion he gave is being misconstrued.
“A senior lawyer in the country offered an opinion, in which he said some categories of public officers, traditionally cleared by the National Assembly, need not go through that process, that those ones can be appointed through presidential fiat; they don’t have to go through screening.
“But several months ago, in his position as Vice-President, Prof. Osinbajo gave a personal opinion, saying what this lawyer said makes sense.”
“There is no official position by the government of Nigeria, and the Federal Executive Council never sat down to take a decision to say that some categories of officials will not be sent to the National Assembly any longer.
“The authority of the Senate, under the Constitution to screen and pass nominees, has never been questioned by the government or the Federal Executive Council.
“From the time the Vice-President gave that opinion till now, more than 20 nominations have been forwarded to the Senate and quite a number of them have been screened, sworn in and are now occupying positions.
“Therefore, this is not a big issue as some people want to make it. The party, government and the National Assembly will sit at a round table and this matter will be discussed and resolved.”
Also on Wednesday, the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), declared that the position of Osinbajo on Magu was not a decision of the Federal Executive Council.
Speaking with pressmen after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, (FEC), Mr. Malami said the Federal Executive Council never discussed the continued stay and possible re-nomination of Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the anti-graft agency.
He said: “The fundamental consideration about the alleged statement is the fact that at no point ever did the Federal Executive Council sit down to arrive at the decision in one way or the other as far as the issue of nomination or otherwise is concerned.
“So, I do not think it constitutes an issue for the Federal Executive Council to make any clarification about because it has never been considered by the FEC.”