The report of the Ayo Salami panel of inquiry is immaterial to President Muhammadu Buhari’s power to appoint a new chair for the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Presidency has said.
Garba Shehu, Senior Special Assistant, Media, and Publicity to the President, stated this in a reaction to a PREMIUM TIMES report on how some lawyers and activists faulted the President’s non-disclosure of the report of Salami panel prior to his Tuesday’s nomination of a new substantive chair for the anti-graft agency.
Last year, the Salami panel probed corruption allegations including diversion of recovered assets levelled by the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami, against EFCC and its officials under the leadership of Ibrahim Magu, as the acting chair of the commission.
But while the public was waiting for the panel’s report submitted to Mr Buhari in November to be released to the public, the presidency announced on Tuesday that the President had sent the name of the head of Lagos zonal office of the EFCC, Abdulrasheed Bawa, to the Senate for confirmation as the substantive chair of the Nigeria’s foremost anti-corruption agency.
Commentators interviewed by this newspaper on Wednesday argued that Mr Buhari ought to have made the Salami panel’s report public before appointing a new substantive chair of the anti-graft agency.
They argued that it smacked of lack of public accountability for the President to nominate a substantive chair for the commission without the public first being aware of those who were indicted or exonerated by the panel.
‘Buhari’s power not dependent on report’
Mr Shehu, asked by our reporter to respond to the comments on the proprietary of Mr Buhari’s action, stated the Salami’s report had nothing to do with the power of the President to appoint a new EFCC chair.
“The power to appoint the Chairman of EFCC is not dependent on the report of the inquiry or any other report. Procedurally and administratively, it is independent of the report. The report of the investigation panel is a different ball game,” Mr Shehu stated, in a message sent to PREMIUM TIMES.
He added, “the provisions of the Constitution clearly empowered the President to appoint persons to hold offices and act in that capacity and to remove such persons.
“The EFCC act requires Senate approval and that is what the President is seeking.”
‘White Paper to be issued on Salami panel’s report’
Meanwhile, Mr Shehu, said the office the President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and the AGF, Mr Malami, were already working towards issuing a White Paper on the report of the Mr Salami-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
“There is going to be a White Paper on the report of the Justice Salami Judicial Commission of Inquiry and the responsibility for doing that is with the office of the Chief of Staff, Professor Gambari. That is being done with the supervision of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice,” Mr Shehu stated.
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