The Federal Government of Nigeria is set to approach the Supreme Court for a judicial interpretation of Section 171 of the 1999 Nigerian Constitution as it concerns the appointment of Mr Ibrahim Magu as chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The Nigerian Senate had twice rejected Magu’s nomination to the position by President Muhammadu Buhari, citing reliance on a report prepared by the Department of State Services (DSS).
The presidency insisted on Magu’s appointment to the position and subsequently adopted an argument canvassed by senior lawyer, Mr Femi Falana, that the senate had no legal role to play in the appointment of the EFCC chairman.
Subsequently, the senate recently refused to consider other nominations sent to it by Acting President Yemi Osinbajo for claiming that senate confirmation was unnecessary for Magu’s appointment.
A source within the presidency on Sunday told newsmen that the presidency had received legal advice on the differences in the constitutional interpretations on matters of certain federal appointments.
The source stated that the legal advice which was prepared as a working document recommended that a judicial pronouncement, preferably by the Supreme Court, would settle the matter.
He added that although the Presidency believed that Section 171 was clear that certain appointments did not require Senate consent, it (the Presidency) was not behaving as if its interpretation of the law had become a policy.
The source also said that the legal advice had unearthed a ruling of the Supreme Court on the matter, where the current Chief Justice of Nigeria, Justice Walter Onnoghen, before his elevation as the CJN, had ruled in line with the view of the Presidency on the matter.
Onnoghen was quoted to have ruled that wherever and whenever the Constitution speaks, any provision of an Act/Statute on the same subject matter, must remain silent.
Punch reports that the source also cited the example of the late Prof. Abraham Babalola Borishade whose nomination as minister was initially rejected thrice by the senate but former President Olusegun Obasanjo sent his name a fourth time and he was confirmed as minister.