- Some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SANs) have berated the Senate over their demands on acting EFCC chairman
- The lawyers said the Senate lacked powers to direct the acting president to remove Magu as the acting chairman for EFCC
- The upper legislative chamber had threatened showdown with the executive arm over Magu’s continued stay as acting chairman of the anti-graft agency
Senior lawyers including the Presidential Advisory Committee Against Corruption (PACAC) chairman, Prof Itse Sagay, on Wednesday, July 5, said the Senate's demand for the acting president to retract his statement was illegal.
NAIJ.com gathered that the lawyers said the Senate lacked powers to direct the acting president to remove Magu as the acting chairman for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The PACAC chairman said: “How can they say he should remove somebody? That is an executive power. The Constitution empowers the President to appoint the chairman of EFCC and other such agencies directly."
Others senior lawyers include, renowned legal author Sebastine Hon, Seyi Sowemimo, Chief Gani Adetola-Kaseem, Chief Emeka Ngige and Ahmed Raji.
In a report by The Nation, Prof Sagay said the upper chamber should be ready to bear the consequences of bringing government to a halt should it make good its threat to suspended all confirmation of appointments until compliance with its resolution.
“So, if they’re uncomfortable with the fight against corruption and feel threatened by a man who is upright, committed and will not be distracted from doing his job, if they’re not comfortable with that, it’s unfortunate. But nobody is going to listen to them as far as that is concerned.
“If they threaten to bring government to a halt, they will bear the responsibility and consequences that will arise. Let them be ready to take the consequences of their actions,” he said.
He also said the provision in the EFCC Act that the commission’s chairman’s appointment was subject to Senate confirmation was invalid for being inconsistent with the Constitution.
“This is a Senate that does not realise that it is part of the legislature and not an executive body. And they want to do both the legislative and executive work together, which will totally eliminate the principle of separation of powers. That’s the sort of people they are. They’re legislators, but they’re hungry to be the executive body," the professor of law said.
Chief Ngige who described the Senate’s demand as “ill-advised”, said that threatening the executive amounted to arm-twisting.
He urged the lawmakers to approach the Supreme Court for determination of the issue.
The senior advocate said: “The Senate lacks constitutional power to compel the Acting President, Prof. Osinbajo, to withdraw his statement on the need not to seek Senate’s confirmation of appointment of the EFCC Chairman, Mr. Magu.
“If the Senate is aggrieved, it can go to court and not resort to grandstanding, which will needlessly heat up the already charged polity.”
Sowemimo, another senior lawyer likened the National Assembly’s demand on the presidency to blackmail. He said the best approach was for the lawmakers to seek judicial opinion.
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NAIJ.com previously reported that the Senate called for the suspension of consideration and confirmation of appointments by President Muhammadu Buhari over a comment credited to Acting President Yemi Osinbajo that executive appointments did not require legislative approval based on Section 171 of the Constitution.
The protests came from the lawmakers when a letter from Osinbajo asking the Senate to confirm the nomination of Mr. Lanre Gbajabiamila as chairman of the National Lottery Commission, which was read by president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, at the plenary.
Meanwhile, in the video below, NAIJ.com asks Nigerians if they regretted voting for President Buhari. Their responses will surprise you: