By Ikechukwu Nnochiri
The Federal High Court sitting in Abuja, on Wednesday, declined to declare the continued stay of Mr Ibrahim Magu as the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, as illegal and unconstitutional.
However, the court, in a judgement delivered by Justice Ijeoma Ojukwu, said it was a mandatory requirement of the law that Magu’s appointment must be confirmed by the Senate to be validated.
It held that the EFCC is not an extra-Ministerial department of the Federal Government, and as such, the law provided that anyone nominated as its Chairman by the President must pass through necessary “checks and balances” by the Senate.
The court held that whereas section 171 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended, granted the President powers to appoint heads of extra-Ministerial departments at his pleasure, section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004, made it mandatory that any nomination to EFCC Chairmanship position must be screened by the Senate to satisfy the interest of the public.
“Public interest is very paramount in the appointment of any person to head to the EFCC”, Justice Ojukwu held, saying there was a lacuna in the law since section 2(3) of the EFCC Act did not put a limitation to President Muhammadu Buhari’s powers to re-appoint Magu, subject to confirmation by the Senate.
“The lacuna has given the the President the proverbial knife and the yam”, Justice Ojukwu noted, saying there was need for a renewed consciousness that laws must be implemented in accordance with public interest.”
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