Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) will no longer appear before the Justice Ayo Salami panel to testify against the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu. This is a departure from Malami’s earlier position to appear before the panel if invited.
The minister hinged his non-appearance on the privileges of his office. Malami’s latest position was sequel to subpoena by Magu’s legal team led by Wahab Shittu demanding that he (Malami) appear before the panel to substantiate the allegations he preferred against the suspended EFCC boss. Malami had, however, written to the panel stating why he would not appear. It was learnt that during the sitting of the panel on Wednesday, Justice Salami read out a letter from Malami stating that he would no longer be able to appear before the panel.
The minister, in the letter, informed the panel that he would not be able to appear before the investigative body because of the privileges of his office. Speaking further through his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu Malami, the minister said his non-appearance before the panel was purely constitutional and not based on any ulterior motive. Gwandu, in a statement, noted that the appearance or otherwise of the AGF and Minister of Justice, to serve as a witness in any investigation should be a constitutional matter. According to him, “In establishing propriety or otherwise of the presence of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice whose responsibility is to hold constitutional order, one must root same within the constitutional provisions.
“The terms and wordings of invitation extended to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to Justice Ayo Panel of inquiry against Magu runs contrary to the Constitutional provisions. “The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is, by the provision of the Constitution and extant laws, empowered to serve supervisory role. In the case of the EFCC, the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been discharging the role effectively.” Reacting to the issue, a member of Magu’s team of lawyers, Tosin Ojaoma, said they were all shocked at the excuse Malami gave for non-appearance. According to him, “We were all gathered at the Presidential Villa for the day’s proceedings when Justice Salami read out a letter from the AGF.
“The AGF stated that he would not be able to testify because his constitutional role does not include testifying. He said his duty was to prosecute and file charges. “I was shocked because Section 174 of the Constitution does not give the AGF such privileges. Isn’t it funny that the AGF who levelled a series of allegations against Magu is now refusing to substantiate the allegations that emanated from his office?”