It has emerged that an internal cold war is raging in the Federal Cabinet after the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami on Wednesday engaged in acts of disloyalty toward Nigeria’s Acting President Yemi Osinbajo by openly contradicting him concerning the future of Ibrahim Magu as EFCC chairman.
Addressing journalists after a meeting of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, Mr. Malami, displayed recalcitrance and reckless insubordination when he said the decision to allow Magu continue in office was not a collective one but Osinbajo’s personal decision. According to him, the Federal Executive Council never discussed his continued stay as EFCC Chairman or his possible re-nomination as chairman of the anti-graft agency.
The Nigerian Senate had twice rejected Mr. Magu’s nomination as EFCC chairman, citing negative security reports.
But the Acting President had in April said Mr. Magu enjoys his confidence and that of President Muhammadu Buhari.
“I’m fully in support of Magu as the EFCC Chairman just as the president is…” Mr. Osinbajo had said. The Acting President who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN) had agreed that Magu did not need a senate confirmation to be the chair of the EFCC. He had argued that the office which he occupies is not one of those that the constitution had envisaged an approval of the occupant by the upper legislative house.
On Tuesday, the Nigerian Senate had declared war against Mr. Osinbajo for allegedly questioning their constitutional authority to confirm the nomination of appointees by the executive arm. The senators therefore resolved that there would be no further confirmations for executive appointees until Magu is sacked.
When asked for comments by State House correspondents after the FEC meeting on Wednesday, Mr. Malami breached the principle of cabinet members speaking with one voice when he said Mr. Osinbajo’s stance was a personal decision never discussed at FEC.
“The fundamental consideration about the alleged statement is the fact that at no point ever did the Federal Executive Council sit down to arrive at the decision in one-way or the other as far as the issue of nomination or otherwise is concerned.
“So, I do not think it constitutes an issue for the Federal Executive Council to make any clarification about because it has never been considered by the FEC,” he said.
The Attorney General has been hugely criticized by Nigerians for alleged lack of commitment to the anti-corruption war, which was a key campaign promise of President Muhammadu Buhari. The preponderance of opinion is that he is against Mr. Magu as EFCC chairman. It is believed that he is secretly working in tandem with Senators to unplug him from office.
Nigerians blame the office of the attorney general for EFCC’s loss of some high profile cases recently. They allege sabotage.
Mr. Osinbajo is yet to respond to Mr. Malami’s claim.
As acting President, he has the powers to sack him.
A source at the Presidency told CHECKPOINTCHARLEY that a cold war has been going on at the Presidency, with majority of Buhari’s appointees taking sides with the cabal led by chief of staff Abba Kyari that is believed to have hijacked power since the president left the country for another medical care in the United Kingdom.
“Most of the ministers and aides from the North are behaving as if they have a problem with the fact that Osinbajo is in charge.
“There is a problem of loyalty.
“It is obvious that he does not have their full backing. There are clandestine moves to undermine him, just like they did to Jonathan,” the source said.
Recall that the plot to undermine Osinbajo started when those mandated by Buhari to write a letter to the Senate, informing the senators of his intention to proceed on medical leave, wrote that Osinbajo will “coordinate” the business of governance in Buhari’s absence.
That mischief had over heated the polity until there was a consensus by legal luminaries that, by virtue of the provisions of the constitution, once the president goes on vacation, the vice becomes acting president.