Magu cries out again, pleads to be allowed to talk
The suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has declared that he still has a lot to say on allegations against him and warned the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel probing him not to end sittings without hearing from him.
Magu’s reaction is as a result of the news filtering into people’s ear that the panel has recommended his sack and prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari.
But, in a statement made available by his lawyer, Wahab Shittu on Sunday, he stated that his client is yet to formally present his defence.
According to him: “Proceedings are ongoing and witnesses are still lined up beginning from Monday. 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).
“That the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), whose memo triggered the proceedings, is yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against our client. He who “asserts must prove”. That our client was excluded from the initial stages of the proceedings with several witnesses testifying in his absence.
“That counsel to our client was not allowed to cross-examine many of the witnesses who had testified until recently. That 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. That 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.
“That 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. That our client, owing to his suspension from office, is unable to have access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence.
“That 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. That 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. How this comes within a contemplation of a commission of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act, 2004 is very questionable.”
Shittu, while condemning some publications about Magu, which he said were false, he also commented on the alleged money laundering involving Prophet Emmanuel Omale, the General Overseer of Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministries International, Abuja.
“I recall Pastor Omale appearing before the panel to confirm openly that none of the transfers into the church’s accounts emanated from Magu and that Magu never donated to his personal or church account. It is also instructive to note that no character by the name Shanono ever appeared before the judicial commission of inquiry. The purveyors of this fake news may assume they are destroying the sterling image of Magu, but I have news for them. Majority of Nigerians cannot be fooled.
“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.
“We urge those bent on prejudicing the proceedings of the panel by planting false stories in the public space to think of the interest of our country and not prejudge our client whose commitment all along is service to the country. The only thing keeping our client going in spite of the desire of mischief makers to pitch him unfairly against the authorities is his conviction of his innocence.”