Lagos-based human rights lawyer, Femi Falana has again criticized members of the national assembly for exercising power beyond their constitutional limit.
He also described the senate headed by Senator Bukola Saraki of Kwara Central as morally bankrupt to screen the leadership of anti-graft agency such as Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC.
Falana spoke to Channel TV during the week against the backdrop of the Nigerian Senate’s rejection of the acting chairman of EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.
He described the rejection of Magu and subsequent calling for his replacement as “impunity”.
According to him, section 171 of the constitution has vested exclusive power in the president to appoint any person to hold certain office or act in that capacity.
For example, the constitution allows the president to appoint secretary to the government of the federation, permanent secretaries, heads of service, and heads of extra ministerial department such as EFCC without the confirmation of the Senate.
The exception is ambassadorial position or headship of foreign mission, he said.
Falana said the presidency was ill advised for sending name of the EFCC’s boss to the Senate for confirmation in the first place because there is no constitutional provision that compels such action.
He said the section 2(3) of the EFCC act that the executive tries to fulfill is superseded by section 171 of the constitution.
He advised the lawmakers to seek the amendment of the constitution if they must remove such constitutional power of the president because as the law currently stands “refusing to confirm the nomination of a public officer does not annul the acting capacity of such an officer.”
He also said that senators who are standing trial or being investigated by EFCC should not have been part of the screening exercise conducted for Magu because of their conflict of interests.
“This senate will not have approved the nomination of Magu because not less than 15 members are either standing trial or they are under investigation for corrupt practice.
The fact that you are standing a trial or under investigation means you cannot sit.”
Falana said the senate headed by Saraki could not have confirmed Magu.
“The senate President, Dr. Bukola Sataki ensured that Mallam Nuhu Ribadu was removed when he was to be charged over the collapse of Societe Generale Bank. Lamode was removed when he invited the wife of the Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki. Magu could not have been confirmed because EFCC is investigating the allegation that $3.5 billion from Paris-London loan refund has been traced to his account. How could the house headed by such a man confirm Magu,” he asked.