The Nigerian Senate is an arm of government that must be respected in any decision it takes in the course of exercising its powers as an independent institution, the presidency said Tuesday.
The comment came in reaction to the decision of the upper legislative chamber to suspend consideration of his nominees for Resident Electoral Commissioners in protest against Ibrahim Magu’s continued stay in office as the acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
The senators had declined to confirm Mr. Magu as substantive chairman of the anti-graft office after two requests by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The president sent a list of 27 nominees to the Senate last week.
The senators also protested alleged disrespect of the National Assembly by appointees of the president.
The Senate has been locked in prolonged supremacy battle with the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Babachir Lawal, and Comproller-General of Customs, Hameed Ali.
Mr. Lawal and Mr. Ali declined separate summons of the Senate last week, over issues bordering on alleged corruption and non-compliance official dress code, respectively.
But speaking in response to the lawmakers, President Buhari’s Senate liaison officer, Ita Enang, said the administration will respect the decision of the lawmakers and pursue dialogue with them.
“We will not question the power of the senators to take decision on how they want to conduct nomination hearings,” Mr. Enang told PREMIUM TIMES by telephone Tuesday afternoon. “We will not go fighting with them”.
Instead, “we will listen to their grievances and reason along with them,” Mr. Enang said shortly after the Senate took the decision to protest Mr. Magu’s continued stay in office.
He declined to say if the president will now ask Mr. Magu to step aside, saying he will “not go into specifics.”
Shortly after rejecting Mr. Magu penultimate Wednesday, the senators urged the president to relieve the EFCC chief of his job and name a temporary replacement pending fresh nomination of a substantive chairman.
Today’s development marked the second time in recent months that the Senate would move to force the hands of the executive on national issues.
In November 2016, the senators threatened to boycott plenary to protest a prolonged delay in conducting re-run elections in Rivers State.
The Independent National Electoral Commission swiftly announced dates for the elections, which held the following month.