…over recovered assets’ probe
Ex-EFCC chair: Minister’s my main accuser
The suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, yesterday applied to the Justice Ayo Salami- led panel to summon the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to give evidence as a witness in the ongoing probe.
Magu is facing probe over allegations bordering on abuse of office and mismanagement of Federal Government recovered assets and finances from May 2015 to May 2020. He, however, applied for Malami to be compelled to appear before the panel to give evidence and tender a copy of his memo to President Muhammadu Buhari, which led to his suspension as EFCC Chairman.
In the application, dated September 4 and signed by his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, Magu specifically applied for Subpoena Duces Tecum and Subpoena Ad Testificandum to be issued on Malami who he described as his “main accuser”.
Magu’s fresh application reads in part: “Kindly cause to be issued a Subpoena Duces Tecum and Subpoena Ad Testificandum on Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney General of the Federation to give evidence, and tender relevant documents on behalf of the State concerning his memo to the President against Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the Acting Chairman of EFCC, the subject matter of this inquiry titled “Flagrant Abuse of Public Office and Other Infractions Committed by Mr. Ibrahim Magu, Acting Chairman EFCC Being Extracts of Pending Petitions” in these proceedings.
“The HAGF is expected to give evidence on his allegations against Ibrahim Magu, to wit: ‘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.”
Magu had relied on Section 5(c) of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act 2004, which he said empowered the tribunal to summon any person in Nigeria to attend and give evidence or produce any document or other thing in his possession and to be examined as a witness. 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.
He added that under Section 6 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act 2004, Justice Salami, as chairman of the panel, has the power to sign the subpoena to be issued on Malami. According to Magu, “In the referred memo widely circulated in the social media, which triggered these proceedings,
Malami equally alleged that he (Magu) was involved in the mismanagement of recovered assets and diversion for personal enrichment.” He said some of the allegations Malami raised against him in the memo to President Buhari, included that: “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.” Magu said he believed that consistent with the fundamental principles of fair hearing as guaranteed under Section 36 of the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999, he is entitled to confront Malami before the tribunal.
“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 Attorney General of the Federation on the substance and credibility of his allegations against our client.
“Based on the foregoing, we humbly request that the 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.”
Magu also requested the recall of several witnesses that appeared and testified before the panel at the time he was not allowed to participate in the proceedings. He added that there was a need for him to be allowed to cross-examine such witnesses, especially in view of the extensive scope of the terms of reference of the probe panel.