Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, on Wednesday expressed his willingness to testify before the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential investigating the alleged financial infractions against the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu.
Malami was directly reacting to a letter by Magu requesting the probe panel to summon him to appear and give evidence on some of the allegations.
The Minister disclosed this during an interview on Arise TV on Wednesday which was monitored by our correspondent.
Malami, who stated that he has nothing to hide from the public, expressed his willingness and readiness to appear before the Justice Salami led investigative panel if a summon is served on him.
While responding to a question put across to him, Malami said: ‘So, if indeed the Ayo Salami panel invites Abubakar Malami as a person or the AGF in the person of Abubakar Malami for any testimony, for any clarification, for examination or cross-examination for that matter, Abubakar Malami will wholeheartedly, gladly within the spirit and context of the rule of law be there to testify, be there to be cross-examined, be there to be examined within the context of the rule of law.
‘Our position as a government is to be submissive to the rule of law and the rule of law component of it requires that when we are called upon to clarify issues, when we are called upon to be examined, when we are called upon to be cross-examined, Abubakar Malami will be there and will gladly cooperate with the inquiry institution and that indeed was an attribute of the government that translated to the victory we are seeing today arising from P&ID.
‘Abubakar Malami has along the line, within the chain of the arbitral process, submitted to uncountable invitations, responded to uncountable requests for clarification of issues and indeed executed uncountable witness statements for the purpose of putting the record straight and the case of Salami will certainly not be an exception.’
Magu has asked the Justice Ayo Salami -led Presidential panel probing him to summon the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice (AGF), Mr Abubakar Malami to appear before it.
Magu anchored his request on the constitutional principles of fair hearing as provided under section 36 of the amended document.
The AGF had in a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari recommended the sacking of the Magu of alleged infractions in office.
Malami, in a memorandum to the President, anchored his recommendation on several grounds ‘raging from diversion of recovered loot to insubordination and misconduct.’
Acting on the said letter, the president constituted a probe panel, led by a former President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami (retd) with about seven other members including the Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Force Criminal Investigation and Intelligence Department, Mike Ogbizi.
The panel which also had representatives from the Office of the National Security Adviser, the DSS and other related agencies, has since commence it’s investigation against Magu.
However, in two separate letters by his counsel, Mr Wahab Shittu, the suspended anti-corruption czar argued that it was pertinent and necessary for the AGF whose petition formed the basis of his investigation by the panel to be invited to tender documents.
The letters, dated August 4, also prayed the panel to recall ‘several witnesses who appeared and testified before this judicial commission of inquiry at the time’ he ‘was not allowed to participate in the proceedings and cross-examine such witnesses.’
Magu in the said letters which were cited by our correspondent, expressed the need to confront Malami with the allegations he made against him before the probe panel.
Speaking on the said letters, his lawyer, clarified that the requests were made in line with the spirit of fair hearing guaranteed under section 36 of the Nigerian Constitution.
According to Shittu, his client is legally entitled to be confronted with the allegations leveled against him, especially by Malami, whom he described as his ‘main accuser’.
The letter reads: ‘We believe that consistent with the fundamental principles of fair hearing as guaranteed under Section 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999.
‘Our client is entitled to be confronted with copies of allegations against him as well as the opportunity to confront his main accuser (in this case, the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation) to enable our client raise issues concerning the allegations and cross-examine the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation on the substance and credibility of his allegations against our client.’