Magu’s Lawyer Urges Panel to Summon Malami to Prove Allegations

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Ibrahim Magu

•Falana asks panel not to terminate Ricky Tarfa’s case

Davidson Iriekpen

The counsel to Mr. Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Wahab Shittu, has written another letter to the retired Justice Ayo Salami-led investigative panel, demanding that the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, should appear before the panel to prove his allegations against his client.

This was coming as a human rights activist, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has petitioned the panel not to recommend for termination, two criminal cases involving a senior lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa (SAN), and his clients, pending before Lagos High Court.
Shittu, in a letter dated September 4 and addressed to Salami, said the appearance of AGF before the panel would ensure a fair hearing.

Citing Sections 5(c) and 6 of the Tribunals of Inquiry Act 2004, Shittu said the tribunal has “the power to summon any person in Nigeria to attend any meeting of the tribunal to give evidence or produce any document or other thing in his possession and to examine him as a witness or require him to produce any document or other thing in his possession, subject to all just exceptions.”

He added that the request was in compliance with Section 36 of the constitution.
In a letter to President Muhammadu Buhari, Malami, whose complaint led to the suspension of Magu and his current investigation by the presidential panel, had accused the suspended EFCC boss of corruption and insubordination.
Magu has repeatedly denied the allegations, describing them as baseless.

However, Buhari had in July approved the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004) for the investigation of the activities of EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020.
“Based on the foregoing, we humbly request that the Honourable 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.

“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 to raise issues concerning the allegations and cross-examine the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation on the substance and credibility of his allegations against our client,” he said.
Shittu also requested that his client should participate in the proceedings and be allowed to cross-examine all witnesses.

The latest letter was one of many letters written by the lawyer to the panel, demanding fair hearing and provision of copies of relevant exhibits against his client from the proceedings of the committee.
He also accused the panel of violating his client’s constitutional right to a fair hearing, describing it as a violation of Buhari’s letter setting up the panel.

Meanwhile, Falana has petitioned the Salami panel, urging it not to recommend for termination two criminal cases involving a senior lawyer, Mr. Rickey Tarfa, and his clients pending before Lagos High Court.
Tarfa and his clients, Gnahoue Sourou Nazaire and Mr. Senou Modeste, were said to have petitioned the Justice Salami’s panel, seeking a review of the two cases pending before Lagos State High Court on the basis that they were victims of Magu’s highhandedness.

But Falana warned that he may be forced to challenge the presidential panel in court if it grants the request.
In a petition dated September 4, 2020, Falana challenged the powers of the panel to entertain cases pending before a court of competent jurisdiction.

Nazaire and Modeste, citizens of the Republic of Benin, are facing fraud of N630 million and forgery of documents charges before Lagos High Court.

Tarfa on his part is facing obstruction of justice charges before the court.
He was charged before the court for allegedly bribing Justice Nasir Yinusa to secure a favourable relief for his clients.
The trio, however, petitioned Salami’s panel, seeking a review of the two cases on the basis that they were victims of Magu’s highhandedness.