Magu’s lawyer says it would be unjust for the panel to recommend his sacking because his client is yet to open his defence.
The Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to probe Ibrahim Magu, the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has asked the president to sack him.
The panel headed by the retired president of the appeal court, Justice Ayo Salami in its interim report recommended that the suspended EFCC chairman be prosecuted for corruption and abuse of office.
According to The Cable, the panel also asked the president to appoint a new chairman for the commission ‘without further delay.’
President Buhari had in a letter dated July 3, 2020, directed the panel to submit its interim reports to him from time to time.
A police officer, who is privy to the investigation said, “The Salami panel has been sending interim reports to the President. Its latest report, however, recommends Magu’s sacking from the EFCC and possible prosecution,” The Punch reports.
When asked why the report was sent to President Buhari why Magu had not yet opened his defence, the officer said, “Magu has been part of the process. He has been attending sittings and has even been given the opportunity of cross-examining some witnesses”.
The police source added that “The interim report is for the President alone and is to keep him abreast of the activities of the panel.”
Reacting to the development, Magu’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu, said Justice Salami told him that no such report had been submitted to the President.
Shittu said it would be unjust for the panel to recommend Magu’s sacking because his client is yet to open his defence, adding that proceedings have not yet been concluded.
He said, “I don’t understand why we should be talking about a reaction to something that is blatantly falsehood. First, the panel is still calling witnesses. Two witnesses appeared before the panel today. So, if there were ongoing proceedings on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and the panel has adjourned till Monday, if witnesses are still being taken and interrogated, and documents are still being submitted, what that should suggest to you is that proceedings are ongoing and have not been concluded. Does it (then) make sense for a report to be submitted?”
Shittu maintained that even if the report was an interim one, it would be wrong to submit it without listening to all sides.
“Ibrahim Magu, my client, has not opened his defence and the panel has repeatedly indicated that he would be allowed to defend himself only after witnesses have been exhausted. So, somebody who has yet to defend allegations against him, can he be indicted?
“Whether interim or final, you cannot issue the report without listening to all the witnesses and then take the defence. My reaction is that the story is planted by mischief makers. A similar falsehood was published by a newspaper and I confronted the panel yesterday (Thursday) and the chairman said how could they have issued such a report when they haven’t formally served him with the allegations and he told me to disregard the report.”
Buhari appointed Magu as the Chairman of the EFCC in 2015 but the 8th Senate refused to confirm his appointment because of a DSS report indicting him of corruption.