By Danlami Nmodu
Suspended National Chairman of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, has asked Justice Ayo Salami, Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry investigating him to subpoena the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice Abubakar Malami, (SAN).
Magu’s request was contained in a letter to the Chairman of the Commission by his counsel,Wahab Shittu. The letter sighted by Newsdiaryoline was dated 4th September 2020.
It reads: “We remain counsel of choice to Mr Ibrahim Magu, the suspended Acting Chairman of the ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC) hereinafter referred to as “Our Client” and on whose behalf and specific instructions as we write as follows:
“We hereby apply for the issuance of a Subpoena Ad Testificandum and Subpoena Duces Tecum on the Honourable 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 in connection with the subject matter of this inquiry titled; “FLAGRANT ABUSE OF PUBLIC OFFICE AND OTHER INFRACTIONS COMMITTED BY MR. IBRAHIM MAGU, ACTING CHAIRMAN ECONOMIC AND FINANCIAL CRIMES COMMISSION (EFCC) BEING EXTRACTS OF PENDING PETITIONS”.
“Section 5(c) of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act 2004 dealing with the Powers of the tribunal with regard to conduct of proceedings reads as follows;
“the power to summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the tribunal to give evidence or produce any document or other thing in his possession and to examine him as a witness or require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession, subject to all just exceptions. Summonses issued under this paragraph may be in Form A in the schedule to this act and shall be served by the police or by such person as the members may direct”
“Section 6 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act 2004 dealing with the Powers of the Chairman to issue summons, etc. reads as follows;
“Where more members than one constitute a tribunal, the chairman shall have power on behalf of the tribunal all such summonses, subpoenas and other processes and make such necessary appointments as may be required under this Act either before or during the inquiry until the submission of the tribunal’s final report”
Magu’s lawyer further noted that “In the referred memo widely circulated in the social media which triggered these proceedings, the Honourable Attorney General submitted amongst others as follows;
“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): Mismanagement and Lack of Transparency in Managing Recovered Assets”
The Honourable Attorney General further said;
“Mismanagement of Recovered Assets and Diversion for Personal Enrichment”
“The Acting Chairman has also neglected and refused blatantly to comply with the Regulations on the Management of Recovered Assets,2019”
“The Acting Chairman does not want a proper and transparent procedure for the management of assets as directed by your Excellency through me”
“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.
Section 36 (1) of the constitution provides;
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality”
“Please refer to SECTION 36 (6) (A) (B) (C) (D) CFRN 1999 which provides as follows
“Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be entitled to
(A) “Be informed promptly in the language that he understands and in details of the nature of the offence
(B) Be given adequate time and facility for the preparation of his defence
(C) Defend himself in person or by, legal practitioners of his own choice
(D) Examine, in person or by his legal practitioners, the witnesses called by the prosecution before any court or tribunal and obtain the attendance and carry out the examination of witnesses to testify on his behalf before the court or tribunal on the same conditions as those applying to the witnesses called by the prosecution”
“Based on the foregoing, we humbly request that the Honourable Attorney General who is the main accuser in these proceedings be graciously invited to give evidence in connection with the subject matter of this inquiry with specific reference to our client in the interest of FAIR HEARING.
“We believe this request ought to be resolved before our client is called upon to enter his defence in these proceedings.
“Most obliged my Lord.
“With assurances of our kind regards, please accept our best wishes.”
It could be recalled that the Presidential Panel probing the affairs of EFCC has been sitting for some time now within the precincts of the Presidential Villa.
Newsdiaryonline recalls that Magu’s lawyer had earlier stated that the P&ID ruling in a UK court in favour of Nigeria was evidence that Magu’s efforts deserved commendation, not vilification.
Whether the suspended EFCC chairman will have his chance to confront the AGF before the Commission remains to be seen.