The Presidency has decided to approach the Supreme Court for interpretation of section 171 of the Constitution (as amended) that deals with the powers of presidential appointments.
The move , the Daily Times gathered, is to resolve the lingering crisis between the Executive and Legislatives arms over Ibrahim Magu’s appointment as Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
A source closed to a meeting held between some senior lawyers and some top officials of the Presidency couple of days ago at the Villa, said the new thinking was based on legal advisory made available to the government on the different interpretations of the law on the matter.
The presidency had recently insisted that President Muhammadu Buhari would retain Magu as the Acting EFCC chairman despite the avowed threat of the Senate to withhold further confirmations of president’s appointees that requires its confirmation if Magu is not removed.
But multiple sources told The Daily Times last week that the federal government is reluctant to approach the Supreme Court on the issues of power appropriation and that of Magu on the grounds of certain unresolved issues within the judiciary and the outcome of the apex court’s pronouncement.
The source had said, ” The federal government is conscious of some certain unresolved issues within the judiciary and alleged conduct of certain judicial officers” ,
But another source close to the meeting held between senior lawyers and top government officials said on Sunday that the presidency is now convinced that the legal advisory it received on the matter would resolved the matter in its favour with the prepared working document .
The legal advice – a judicial pronouncement on the matters regarding certain presidential appointments by the Supreme Court, will settle the matter.
Also that a pronouncement of the apex court was necessary because even though the Presidency rightly interpreted Section 171, its interpretation will not become the position of the law except the apex court make a definite pronouncement.
The legal experts at the meeting also 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 currently expressed by 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.
“The divergent positions being held by the executive and the legislature on the subject of confirmation is one that requires timely and ultimate resolution. Such resolution could only be reached through judicial process.
“Such interpretation would lay to rest the lingering crisis between the two arms,” the source stated, quoting the recommendation made in the legal advisory.
The source further disclosed that the legal experts were unanimous in their views on Magu, saying that the lawyers argued that what was playing out on Magu was purely political and not legal issues over his confirmation.
He said, “the rumblings in the discourse on his confirmation have more to do with politics than with the law.”
Andrew Orolua, Abuja.