According to Saharareporters.com, Mrs. Farda Waziri had just returned from a spending spree in preparation for her new job. Now she has been asked to stay away until confirmed. It is amazing how we rush to embrace illegality when we are involved then turn around to criticise when we are not the beneficiary.
To think she has continued to report at the EFCC head office even when Nigerians are crying over how she was appointed.
Senate Asks Waziri to Stay away from EFCC
From Sufuyan Ojeifo in Abuja, 05.23.2008
Senate President David Mark yesterday asked the acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mrs. Farida Waziri, to stay away from office pending her confirmation by Senate.
THISDAY, however, confirmed that she still reported to the head office of EFCC in Abuja yesterday and left around 3pm, although without accepting the handover notes presumably on learning of the Senate directive.
Also yesterday, THISDAY was informed that Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde, the former acting chairman of the commission, was “in a fix” over different directives he has received in the last one week over his status.
At the National Assembly yesterday, Mark directed the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Nar-cotics, Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, Senator Sola Akinyede (Ekiti South), to interrogate the facts that she was already acting and had indeed assumed office with a view to advising her appropriately on what to do in the circumstance.
He said that if it was found out that she was already acting in the office of the commission’s Chairman, the Comm-ittee Chairman should write to her to leave and not resume until she had been confirmed by the Upper House.
According to him, “Ascertain if she has resumed or not; if she has, tell her to leave the place alone because she cannot resume until we have confirmed her. Please, go and get your facts.”
He also said that the Committee should investigate all issues surrounding the appointment while screening her as well as the five other members of the commission nominated for senate confirmation and report back in one week to plenary for confirmation hearing.
This followed a heated debate on the floor of the Senate on the propriety of her appointment in acting capacity by President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua prelude to his executive communication seeking confirmation of her appointment as substantive chairman of the commission.
The debate was prompted by the observations raised by Akinyede to the letter sent to the Senate President by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Michael Aondoakaa, in which he justified Yar’Adua’s action.
Shortly after the Senate Leader, Senator Teslim Folarin, introduced the first item on yesterday’s order paper and moved a motion calling on the Senate to consider Yar’Adua’s request for the confirmation of the nominations of Waziri and the five other members in accordance with Section 2(3) of the EFCC Act, 2004, with the Minority Whip, Senator Sani Yerima seconding it, Mark put the motion to question and members unanimously voted for it.
Mark said thereafter: “I think the normal practice is for us to refer the request to the committee except anybody has any objections to make. The committee would be given one week to conclude the assignment and report back for confirmation.”
But Akinyede said he had observations to make in respect of the letter sent to the Senate President on the appointment by Aondoakaa in which he attempted to justify Yar’Adua’s action since the letter was a reply to his (Akinyede’s) letter to him (Aondoakaa).
He told the Senate that he wrote a letter to the Attorney-General when Waziri’s appointment in acting capacity was announced Thursday, last week, to draw his attention to the breach of the provision of the EFCC Act, 2004.
According to him, “There was an appointment made in acting capacity and that was why I issued a letter to the Attorney-General because there is no provision for acting Chairman, as the position does not exist. But I am surprised that the Attorney-General wants to justify the appointment.
“The Attorney-General argued that the action of Mr. President is covered by Chapter 123, Section 11 (1) of the Interpretation Act on appointment which states that where an enactment confers a power to appoint a person either to an office or to exercise any functions, whether for a specified period or not, the power includes - (a) power to appoint a person by name or to appoint the holder from time to time of a particular office; (b) power to remove or suspend him; (c) power, exercisable in the manner and subject to the limitations and conditions (if any) applicable to the power to appoint- (i) to reappoint or reinstate him; (ii) to appoint a person to act in his place, either generally or in regard to specified functions, during such time as is considered expedient by the authority in whom the power of appointment in question is vested.”
Akinyede stated further, “The EFCC Act said the senate confirmation must come first. If this is allowed to pass, it is going to erode the authority of the Senate. This justification by the Attorney-General is worrisome and I want the senate to look into this.”
He also referred the Senate to Section 147(2) of the Constitution: “Any appointment to the office of Ministers of the Government of the Federation shall, if the nomination of any persons to such office is confirmed by the Senate, be made by the President,” saying that the same procedure was applicable to the office of the EFCC Chairman.
He declared that the authority of the Senate was under threat and urged his colleagues that the threat must not be allowed to stand.
Senator Lee Ledogo Maeba (Rivers South-east) shared the position of Akinyede, arguing that the Senate was already under attack.
According to him, “On whether or not to clear Waziri, we are being blackmailed to clear the woman. Ibrahim Lamorde has been acting for several months. If the President wants to appoint a substantive chairman, he should do so in consonance with the provisions of the EFCC Act, 2004. I see the appointment of Waziri as acting chairman as a breach of procedure.
“This nomination is already very controversial and the best thing to do is to send it back to Mr. President. The Chairman of the Committee has already received a bashing from the Attorney General and the Chairman has said that it was not correct and what other different report can we get from the Committee chairman after screening?”
But Senator Kanti Bello (Katsina North) said it was unfortunate that allegations were being made, pointing out that “if a Senator has got an information, he must lay it on the table.”
He maintained that the allegations that Waziri had resumed office should be investigated and confirmed before making it.
Senator Abubakar Sodangi (Nasarawa West) advised the senate to return the nominations to Yar’Adua to enable him represent them in line with due process as clearly enshrined in the EFCC Act, 2004.
However, Senator Sani Ahmed Yerima (Zamfara West), who is a member of the Senate Committee on Drugs, Narcotics, Anti-Corruption and Financial Crimes, disagreed with his colleagues, saying Yar’Adua was right to appoint acting Chairman for the EFCC, prelude to Senate confirmation.
He said Senator Akinyede, who is the chairman of the committee, was not in a position to write the Attorney-General of the Federation in the first instance on the announcement of the appointment of Waziri as acting Chairman.
On his part, Senator Anyim Ude (Ebonyi South) said that the development had brought into focus the issues of due process and the authority of the Senate, stressing, “On due process, I associate myself with Senator Akinyede because the procedure has been breached, hence the controversy we are in now.”
The contribution by Senator Uche Chukwumerije (Aba North) was mediatory as he called for a middle-of-the road approach on the issue so that Waziri and other members of the Commission could be screened with a proviso that the Senate would no longer tolerate any breach of procedure after this.
He noted that Senator Akinyede made an important point on the issue of threat to the authority of the Senate but expressed concern that the debate on the issue was tending along sectional lines.
“Let us overlook this and say only this and never again. We can pass a resolution…. Let us very reluctantly accept this and pass a resolution that we will not accept any other breach after this,” Chukwumerije said.
Deputy Senate Leader, Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba (SAN) (Cross River Central), said some of the issues raised by Senator Akinyede were of serious constitutional nature.
He, however, stated that the claim that Waziri had already resumed office at the EFCC was premature, stressing, “These are facts the committee must find out. I read in the papers that she was to have resumed last Thursday, but that she has not resumed.”
He continued: “At the moment, EFCC is rudderless. Lamorde has been posted to Bauchi State; whether Waziri has taken over or not is fact the Committee must investigate. The committee must go on with the screening and in the process find out if she has resumed.”
The Senate President at this point referred to the Attorney-General’s letter to Senator Akinyede, which was routed through his office, saying the argument contained therein to the effect that President Yar’Adua was right in appointing an acting Chairman for the EFCC was worrisome.
According to Mark, “He (Aondoakaa) gave the impression that the President can appoint chairmen in acting capacity before Senate confirmation. The letter appears to be justifying that certain appointments can be acting and later confirmed by the Senate.
“The advice to Senator Akinyede is to ascertain whether she (Waziri) has resumed at the EFCC. If she has, tell her to leave office because she cannot resume until after we have confirmed her. Go and get the facts. She has no business resuming except this senate confirms her. Find out whether he has resumed and draft an appropriate reply to the Attorney-General.”
He said the letter from the Attorney-General did not need to be laid on the table.
Mark tasked the Committee to report back in one week. Akinyede had wanted clarifications on whether the one week was for investigating the facts of Waziri’s resumption in the EFCC office in acting capacity.
But Mark said: “The assignment you have been given is screening for the purpose of confirmation.”
Yar’Adua’s letter, nominating Waziri and five other members, was read on the floor of the Senate on Wednesday, about seven days after the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Ambassador Baba Gana Kingibe, had announced her appointment in acting capacity.
The letter, entitled: “Appoin-tment of Chairman and Members of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)” by Yar’Adua had read: “The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission is an agency established by an Act of the National Assembly in 2004 charged with the responsibility for the enforcement of all economic and financial crimes law among other things.
“The appointment of the Chairman and members of the Commission is provided for in Section 2 subsection 1 and sub-subsections A and B of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Establishment Act, 2004 except for the appointment of the Secretary of the Commission who is also a member of the Commission, which is provided for separately in Section 8, Subsection 1 of the Act.
“By virtue of Section 2 subsection 3 of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission Act, which confers upon the President the powers to appoint the Chairman and members of the Commission other than the ex-officio members, subject to confirmation by the Senate, I have appointed the following as members of the Commission: Mrs. Farida M. Waziri, AIG retired - Chairman; Barrister Basil M.C. Anago - member; Barrister Paul Harris Ogbole - member; Mr. Banjo Olaniyan - member; Alhaji Mohammed Jibo -member; Mr. Emmanuel Akomoye - member/secretary
“Their Curriculum Vitae are attached hereto. The purpose of this letter is to request the Senate to kindly confirm their appointments in the exercise of the powers conferred upon them by Section 2 (3) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Act of 2004.”
Meanwhile, THISDAY has learnt the government has reportedly written to Lamorde, asking him to hand over to Waziri “immediately” – although her appointment is yet to be confirmed by the Senate.
The police authorities have also asked him to proceed to Ningi, his new posting as Area Commander, “immediately” – even though he is yet to hand over officially to Waziri.
This could leave a leadership vacuum at the commission.
Also, President Yar’Adua was said to have given Lamorde permission to attend some conferences in Australia and Switzerland which is still running.
Although he had to return home on learning of the announcement of Waziri’s appointment, the presidential permission allowing him to attend the conferences is still valid since it has not been withdrawn.