International Groups Write Buhari, Says Magu Not Likely to Get Justice

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Ibrahim Magu

A former Acting Chairman, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC), Mr. Ibrahim Magu is unlikely to get justice at the Presidential Panel set to probe him, Nigeria’s leading anti-corruption group and its international partners have said.

In a letter addressed to President Mohammadu Buhari, the Human Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), Global witness, Cornerhouse and Re:Common said the panel has spent more days than necessary without establishing any serious case against the former EFCC boss.

If the panel cannot establish proven case of corruption against Magu, the groups urged Buhari to disband the panel and save Nigeria from local and international embarrassment.

It is the third time HEDA and its partners have raised the same concern in six months.

The letter signed by HEDA’s Chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju; Global witness Director, Mr. Simon Taylor; Cornerhouse Director, Mr. Nicholas Hildyard; and Re:Common Director, Luca Manes expressed profound concerns over the conduct of the judicial inquiry into allegations made by the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami, that Magu had abused his office when he was Acting Chair of the EFCC.

The group said it has no problem with the investigations but rather that the investigation has, from the start, been so deeply flawed and biased that impartial observers have long since given up hope of Magu receiving a fair hearing.

Suraju said President Buhari should be aware that international anti-corruption campaigners now regard the panel as nothing less than a Kangaroo Court designed to witch-hunt Magu and slow down the anti-corruption wheel.

“At almost every stage, Mr. Magu has been denied due process. He was not provided with the allegations against him until 35 days after the Panel had convened. His lawyers have repeatedly been excluded from many of the hearings. Most of the witnesses were examined without Mr. Magu being present. Witnesses have been allowed to testify without swearing to an oath of truth,” HEDA and its partners said.

The group alleged that Malami, has refused to comply with a subpoena ordering him to give testimony, on the dubious grounds that he was merely passing on complaints that had been made to him by others.

Suraju said “We have no reason to doubt the integrity of the Panel’s chair, Mr. Justice Ayo Isa Salami before his appointment; but he is just one member of a panel that has been packed with Ministry of Justice and security agency officials who are among Magu’s accusers.”

Moreover, HEDA and partners expressed worry about reports that Magu’s chief accuser, Attorney General Malami, has set up an in-house committee to write the panel’s report.

“If true, this would be an insult to justice.

We implore you to act. When the Panel was established oo July 3, 2020, you gave it 45 days to report. That deadline has long since passed. The report was that another 60 days was granted after the expiration of the original 45 days. It is now more than 120 days”

The group wondered how much longer must the travesty continue.

It said the panel has had its time, disobeyed the clear instructions to report by a specific deadline and should now be disbanded.

“If the panel has not found credible evidence against Mr. Magu, then it should say so. If it is too incompetent to write a report within the mandated time, then it should be wound up, and the public protected from further unwarranted calls on the stipend that panel members draw,”

the groups said.

The anti-corruption groups argued that every day that passes with this matter unresolved is a day that gives succour to those who oppose the

government’s fight against corruption.

“We cannot overstate the damage that Attorney General Malami’s vendetta against Mr. Magu has inflicted on the reputation of Nigeria and, indeed,

your Presidency. It encourages the view that those who fight corruption can, with the connivance of senior government officials, be brought down

or incapacitated through flimsy and totally unsubstantiated accusations of wrongdoing.” HEDA said.

The groups urged the President to be conscious of the fact that the era of United States President, Mr. Donald Trump is drawing to a close, adding that

it expects the incoming Joe Biden Presidency to strongly resume the global fight against corruption.