Fred Itua, Abuja
Justice Ayo Salami-led panel has summoned the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to appear as key witness in the ongoing probe of Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Magu is facing a Judicial Commission of Inquiry for alleged abuse of office and mismanagement of Federal Government recovered assets and finances from May 2015 to May 2020.
Magu, until his ouster, reportedly had series of clashes with the supervising minister of the EFCC, Malami. In early July, Magu was compelled to appear before a panel at the Presidential Villa. Few days later, he was suspended by President Muhammadu Buhari alongside other key senior staff of the anti-graft agency, who allegedly took part in the financial heist.
According to the letter Justice Salami said since Malami wrote the petition, he should appear in person to give evidence.
Part of the letter read: “You are commanded in the name of the President and Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to attend before this judicial commission of inquiry at Abuja on the 31st day of August 2020 at the hour of 9’0 clock in the forenoon, and so from day to day until the above matter is tried for the purpose of giving evidence and tendering on behalf of the state his memo to the President against Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of EFCC, the subject matter of this inquiry.
“The minister is expected to give evidence on his allegations against Ibrahim Magu, to wit the acting Chairman of EFCC is not acting in the overall best interest of the country and the policies of this administration due to its mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets; diversion of recovered assets for personal enrichment; neglecting to investigate the P&ID case as directed by the President; flagrant disobedience to directives and to court orders due to the following; final report of the Presidential Committee on Audit Of Recovered Assets (PCARA) and mismanagement and lack of transparency in managing recovered assets.”
Meanwhile, Magu’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu, has written to Justice Salami to compel Malami to appear and provide necessary evidence on the matter.
“We hereby apply for the issuance of a subpoena ad testificandum and subpoena duces tecum on the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN) to appear before this Judicial Commission of Inquiry to give evidence concerning his memo to the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari.
“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 (Magu) 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 Attorney General of the Federation, to enable our client raise issues concerning the allegations and cross-examine the Attorney General on the substance and credibility of his allegations against our client.”
Magu also urged the panel to reinvite some of the witnesses who had earlier testified against him to appear in the interest of fair hearing.
“The above request is premised on the fact that our client based on the instrument constituting this panel signed by the President on 3rd of July 2020 is the subject matter of these inquiry.
“Our client is entitled to participate in the entirety of the proceedings including afforded the opportunity to cross-examine all witnesses in these proceedings.”
“We will also humbly request for guidance on specific procedure, schedule and timeline earmarked for the defence to enable our client adequately prepare and call relevant and material witnesses/documentary evidence ahead of his defence in the proceedings.”