Alex Enumah in Abuja
The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), yesterday gave an insight into why he did not appear at the Justice Ayo Salami Panel of Inquiry investigating the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
Malami in a statement said his non-appearance at the proceedings of the panel holding in Abuja “was purely constitutional and not based on any ulterior motive.”
The statement signed by his media aide, Dr. Umar Gwandu, explained that that the appearance or otherwise of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to serve as a witness in any investigation should be a constitutional matter.
He said: “In establishing propriety or otherwise of the presence of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice whose responsibility is to hold constitutional order one must root same within the constitutional provisions.
“The terms and wordings of invitation extended to the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to Justice Ayo Panel of Inquiry against Magu runs contrary to the constitutional provisions.”
Gwandu stressed that the Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice is by the provision of the constitution and extant laws empowered to serve supervisory role.
He added: “In the case of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice has been discharging the role effectively.”
Magu was suspended in July based on some reports by investigative panels set up by the AGF.
Some of the allegations were that Magu was unable to account for the interest accrued to over N500bn in recovered funds and that he allegedly bought a house in Dubai for N570million.
The suspended EFCC boss was also said to be at loggerheads with the AGF and had refused to obey instructions from his office.
However, in the course of the investigation by the panel, the probe was extended to several other cases including that of convicted former Inspector-General of Police, Mr. Tafa Balogun.
Over 40 persons including those standing trial for corruption have reportedly testified before the panel, a move which has been criticised by Magu’s legal team and other anti-corruption groups.
The panel is supposed to have ended its sitting since last month but was given a six-week extension which lapses this month.