The Federal High Court in Abuja Wednesday has declared that the chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu was not supposed to remain in acting capacity in perpetuity.
Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, in one of the five separate judgements she delivered related to Magu’s position on Wednesday said, “Without sentiment, the acting tenure is not meant to last as long as the substantive office. The acting tenure is not meant to be used to install the person in perpetuity or use that window of the lacuna to install the person in substantive capacity.”
She also rejected Magu’s contention that his appointment by the President did not require Senate’s confirmation, saying “in view of the provision of Section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, and Section 171 of the Constitution, “it would be an aberration for this court to hold that the appointment of the EFCC chairman does need senate confirmation.
“Senate confirmation is compulsorily required. Senate confirmation is to ensure the checks and balances needed in our democracy”, adding that that the contention of Magu’s lawyer, Mr Wahab Shittu, was inconsistent with the law as she knows it. She declared that the EFCC was not an “extra-ministerial body” like those created under Section 153 of the Nigerian constitution in which the appointment of their members and chairmen by the President did not require Senate confirmation.
She however dismissed requests to remove Mr Ibrahim Magu as the acting Chairman of EFCC, despite her position that his unending stay in office in acting capacity was undesirable.
Five separate suits had been instituted in 2017 to seek judicial pronouncement on Magu’s continued stay in office since 2015 without senate confirmation.
The judge refused to sack Magu as prayed in three of the suits where the plaintiffs contended that Magu was not supposed to continue in office as EFCC chairman either in acting or substantive capacity, having been rejected by the senate on two different occasions.
She held that Magu could continue to act as the EFCC’s chairman at the pleasure of the president because there was a lacuna in the law which failed to spell out a time limit for an acting tenure. According to her, Section 2(3) of the EFCC (Establishment) Act, 2004, which provides that members and the chairman of the commission could only be appointed by the president subject to the confirmation by the senate, did not spell out the duration of an acting capacity.
“As the law stands today, in my humble view, the period of the tenure of the acting chairman of the EFCC lies with the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to decide,” she said in her fudgement.
The other two other suits in which the plaintiffs contended that senate confirmation was not required for the president to appoint Magu as the EFCC chairman were resolved against the plaintiffs