The recent disclosure by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that an alleged sum of N2,922,236,310 was paid to 54 senators during David Mark’s tenure as Senate President may have all to do with Ibrahim Magu’s lingering non-confirmation than any fight against corruption, Vigi360 investigations reveal.
Reports leaked to the media by the anti-graft agency claimed 5 of the 54 senators are still in the Senate, including a principal officer believed to be the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, but Vigil360 gathered from a serving senator and former governor that the number of serving senators who benefitted from the payment are far higher than the 5 claimed in media reports.
It was revealed that Magu is deliberately using his EFCC to target the said 5 senators who he believes are the core of the opposition to his confirmation as the acting Chairman of the Agency.
The payments made early in 2015, became an ace for Magu in the unending imbroglio engendered by the rejection of his nomination by the Senate, after the acting Chairman was reportedly made aware of moves by the Senate to make a final push for the Presidency to forward a new nominee for Chairman of the commission.
The resumption of investigation into the alleged payments had aroused suspicion of witch-hunt targeted at some senators, after the EFCC picked up David Mark as the arrowhead of the alleged beneficiaries. Mark, since the current 8th Senate, has been largely withdrawn and reserved in activities at the Red Chamber but the EFCC had no option but to arrest him as its blackmail against the anti-Magu force in the Senate threatened to unravel.
The anti-graft agency arrested the former senate president on December 14 over the alleged fraudulent payments during his tenure, which operatives of the agency claimed was a misappropriation of funds meant for projects at the National Assembly.
Mark had few days after his release slammed the agency’s allegations as “spurious, contrived and baseless.” He also accused the agency of chasing shadows.
And while the agency may indeed be chasing shadows, its acting Chairman is actually chasing his confirmation.
Vigil360 was reliably informed that Magu is uncomfortable over feelers from the Villa that the Presidency may have concluded on forwarding a new nominee to the Senate for confirmation. The decision is believed to be a tradeoff for the speedy consideration and passage of the 2018 budget as well as confirmation of pending nominations into various board appointments.
The Senate, it will be recalled, had suspended further consideration of nominations from the Presidency, following the latter’s failure to heed its request that a new nominee be forwarded after it rejected Magu’s nomination on the second time of asking.
Magu’s fate is also not helped by the disposition of the All Progressive Congress (APC) leadership in the Senate which considers itself critical to the party’s 2019 prospects and is against his nomination.
Unfortunately, the N2.9b blackmail has been dismissed by sources at the centre of the allegations as another of Magu’s media grandstanding and triumphalism and will in no way alter his already “decided fate.”