Suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has faulted the activities of the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel set up to investigate him.
Recall that Magu was removed as EFCC boss after the panel ordered his arrest in Abuja and has continued to face numerous corruption allegations.
Magu in a letter to the Chairman of the panel by his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, expressed shock that the panel had suddenly metamorphosed into a judicial commission of inquiry despite being established under the Tribunal Of Inquiry Act 2004.
He stated that the panel had derailed from the act and stressed that the panel should be bound by the stipulation of the Tribunal Of Inquiry Act 2004.
He also said that the tribunal had sat and conducted proceedings in the absence of Magu, which is in violation of the applicable law and rules of fairhearing.
He said, “By virtue of the referred instrument served on our client and signed by the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, this assembly is constituted pursuant to the TRIBUNAL OF INQUIRY ACT 2004. It is curious and worrisome that an administrative panel of inquiry headed by your Lordship having sat and taken evidence (both oral and documentary) in the past one month has suddenly metamorphosed into a judicial commission of inquiry. How this comes within contemplation of a Commission of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act 2004 is very questionable.
“This implies that this assembly is neither a panel or an investigation committee but a Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up pursuant to the TRIBUNAL OF INQUIRY ACT 2004 and therefore bound to be guided by the provisions of the said ACT and the express letters of the instrument of appointment especially in the context of our constitutional democracy guided by the rule of law
“We observe that by the instrument establishing the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, manner of proceedings whether public or private is to be specified by the instrument of appointment. This is expressly prescribed by SECTION 2(D) of the TRIBUNAL OF INQUIRY ACT which provides thus
“The instrument shall direct whether or not the inquiry is to be held in public.”
He stated that contrary to the act, the proceedings of this Judicial Commission of Inquiry constituted since 3rd July, 2020 by virtue of the instrument of appointment has consistently been conducted in private and most of the witnesses examined without the presence of our client who is the subject matter of inquiry until recently when our client was allowed limited access to the proceedings with his counsel who was not allowed to cross-examine the witnesses called to testify against our client.
“Specifically our client and his counsel were excluded from the proceedings of 11th, 12th, 13th of July 2020 amongst others in spite of presence at the venue of the sittings. In all the days of exclusion from the proceedings of the judicial commission of inquiry, witnesses were called, testified, interrogated and documents tendered and admitted in the proceedings in the absence of our client and his counsel. It should be emphasized that the nature of allegations against our client is that is criminal.
“Consequently, his right under the constitution to fair hearing ought not to have been crassly violated in the circumstances so far demonstrated by the commission.
“This runs contrary to the instrument of appointment stipulating that the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is designated as “INSTRUMENT CONSTITUTING A JUDICIAL COMMISSION OF INQUIRY FOR THE INVESTIGATION OF MR MAGU IBRAHIM, THE AG. CHAIRMAN OF THE EFCC FOR ALLEGED ABUSE OF OFFICE AND MISMANAGEMENT `OF FEDERAL GOVERNMENT RECOVERED ASSETS AND FINANCES FROM MAY 2015 TO MAY 2020.”
He also expressed worry that oaths were not administered on all witnesses, who gave evidence before the judicial commission of inquiry as he added that Magu has been denied the opportunity of timeously raising objection to and challenging the composition of the commission membership, assuming he would have had any.
“Our client’s constitutional right of being afforded adequate opportunity of preparing for his defence to those allegations has been violated.
“Our client observes that witnesses appearing before the panel interfaced ahead of the proceedings and in many instances, our client is unable to have access to documents forming the basis of witnesses’ testimonies before the panel. In our client’s view the atmosphere around the proceedings is clearly disturbing to our client especially since his counsel is unable to cross-examine the witnesses and some of the witnesses were unable to conclude their testimonies before the panel.”
SaharaReporters, New York