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Salami probe panel cannot submit report without hearing from me says Magu

The suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu has denied media reports that the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel had, in its interim report, recommended that President Muhammadu Buhari fire and prosecute him for alleged corruption.

Magu, through his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, said he was yet to formally present his defence as proceedings were ongoing and witnesses still lined up for next week beginning from Monday.

In a statement made available to journalists, Shittu wrote: “Please note that the earlier report of similar import published (by a newspaper) was brought to the attention of the panel and we were advised by the chairman of the panel to ignore the story. Our attitude is also to ignore this latest story as falsehood not reflecting the realities on ground,”

He also said in spite of repeated demands, he had not been served with copies of allegations against him.

According to him, the instrument embodying the terms of reference was not served on his client until August 8, 2020 (35 days after proceedings has commenced).

He said the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, whose memo triggered the proceedings, was yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against.

“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.”

Shittu added that his client is yet to be granted access to petitions/presentations, case files and exhibits admitted in the proceedings and that he had written to the panel to that effect.

“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.”

He said while the proceedings were still ongoing and Magu was yet to present his defence and that the suggestion that an interim report had been submitted to Buhari was shocking.

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