•Suspended EFCC boss awaits service, says counsel
By Kingsley Nwezeh and Alex Enumah
Following reports that the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) may move against the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, over alleged non-asset declaration, his counsel and the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), have said no charges have been filed against him.
Magu’s lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, has also stated that he was yet to be served.
Spokesman of CCT, Mr. Ibraheem Alhassan, told THISDAY that no charge against Magu has so far been filed at the tribunal.
“As at today no charge has been filed against Magu,” he said.
A source at the CCB, however, said he was not aware the bureau was preparing any charge against Magu.
However, another source at the CCB dismissed insinuation of charge against Magu as a rumour, saying that the presidential panel probing corruption allegations against him was yet to conclude its assignment or made any report against Magu.
“Nothing of such; it is just rumour. After all, the Salami-led committee is yet to submit its report. The committee has not finished their assignment; they have not submitted a report. If at all the report is submitted, then we can begin to speculate something like that”, he said.
According to the source, the bureau cannot act without a formal report or complaint, stressing that investigations must also be carried out before a charge can be filed.
“I learnt that the committee has questioned his (Magu’s) assets declaration form, they have asked for it, but until he is indicted the bureau cannot do anything.
“So for now, there is nothing of such, we are not saying it cannot come up tomorrow, but for now nothing of such,” he added.
Shittu has also denied knowledge of any charge being prepared against his client.
He dismissed it as media speculations on the grounds that Magu was yet to be investigated by the CCB, a condition necessary before charges are filed against anyone.
“I am really not aware. It remains speculations in the papers. Magu has not been investigated by the CCB,” Shittu said.
He added that contrary to the belief in some quarters, Magu was only suspended, not removed from office.
He also said he could hold brief for the EFCC and Magu contrary to criticisms that assuming such dual capacity was unethical.
Shittu said Magu had not been served any court process regarding non-asset declaration.
“I am not aware of that. We have not been served”, he said.
Shittu, in response to a charge by a group of lawyers that his status as counsel to EFCC and Magu amounted to a conflict of interest, said he won five landmark cases in the same capacity.
A group under the auspices of League of Abuja Young Lawyers (LAYL), had on Wednesday called on the Justice Ayo Salami-led presidential panel probing the Magu-led EFCC to sanction Shittu over allegations bordering on conflict of interest.
President of the group, Mr. Nwoko Clems, had told journalists in Abuja that Shittu as a prosecutor to the EFCC could not continue to appear on behalf of Magu before the panel as his personal lawyer.
But in response to the charge by the group, Shittu said: “This issue arose in the proceedings of Hon. Justice Salami’s panel and was argued and resolved. I have always appeared as counsel to EFCC as counsel in several proceedings.
“I have five landmark judgments obtained in favour of Magu and EFCC in which l appeared as counsel to both in the referred proceedings. Secondly, l have represented Magu in several libel matters as his counsel of choice.
“As a private counsel, I’m not retained by EFCC but serves as external counsel to EFCC based on cases assigned to me by the commission.
“There is no agreement between l and EFCC that I am not entitled to handle cases against EFCC as private counsel. I have, however, as a matter of honour, refrained from taking up cases against EFCC.
“It is my personal decision. Significantly, Magu has not been removed as EFCC chair, he is only suspended. There is no breach of ethics in representing Magu who is only suspended but not removed, especially in the context that he remains the acting chair of EFCC at the time l took the brief.
“Lastly, Magu is not on trial by EFCC but by the Salami panel, which is embarking on a fact-finding exercise. I am not a salaried employee of EFCC but a private counsel. For these and several other reasons, l submit that there is no conflict of interest whatsoever.”