Fred Itua, Abuja
Suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has warned against purported plans by the presidential panel instituted by President Muhammadu Buhari to indict him, ahead of his appearance to defend himself.
Magu, in a letter addressed to the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel by his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, said media reports suggested that an interim report had been submitted to President Buhari. He said in the media report, Magu was indicted and recommended for dismissal and prosecution.
“We all know that in spite of repeated demands, our client has not been served with copies of allegations against him. The instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on my client until August 8, 2020 (35 days after proceedings has commenced),” he said.
Magu’s lawyer warned that bypassing due process in the ongoing investigation will be considered an abuse of the law. He said it will also be against the principle of fair hearing.
“We wish to confirm that the proceedings are still ongoing and my client is yet to present his defence.
“We are, therefore, shocked at the suggestion that an interim report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari. We all know that this is a democracy anchored on respect for the rule of law. Central to the rule of law is the element of fair hearing,” he said.
Questioning the metamorphosis of the panel into a tribunal, Magu said: “Our client is yet to be granted access to petitions/presentations, case files and exhibits admitted in the proceedings. Please note that we have written to the panel to that effect.
“Our client was accosted on the street and compulsorily requested to appear “immediately” before the panel without opportunity to access documents to adequately prepare his defence.
“Our client was subsequently detained for ten days after appearing before the panel in unpleasant circumstances. This detention is not covered by the Terms of Reference arising from the instrument constituting the judicial commission of inquiry.
“Our client, owing to his suspension from office, is unable to have access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence.
“Cases pending before superior courts of records such as Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court are being reviewed in the proceedings. We believe that this development is subjudice and unhealthy for our jurisprudence.
“Witnesses appearing before the panel were not sworn on oath before giving evidence as stipulated under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, 2004 on whose authority the instrument setting up the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is derived.
“It is curious and worrisome that an administrative panel of inquiry headed by His Lordship, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, having sat and taken evidence (both oral and documentary) in the past one month, has suddenly metamorphosed into a Judicial Commission of Inquiry.