The suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has concluded his defence before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry set up by the Federal Government on the activities of the anti-graft agency, EFCC, under his watch.
But Magu, according to his defence team, was shocked by the absence of the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), as he refused to honour the invitation of the panel.
Malami, who was subpoenaed by the commission, said his non-appearance is constitutional
He faulted the wordings of the invitation sent to him by the panel.
Malami said the terms and wordings of the invitation extended to him were against constitutional provisions.
According to a source in the defence team, if the AGF refuses to appear, Magu will ask Salami panel to declare all the allegations against him as frivolous.
The source said he who alleges must prove beyond reasonable doubt.
The top source said: “It was a strange and bizarre twist of events as Malami refused to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry headed by the retired President of the Court of Appeal, Justice Ayo Salami despite a subpoena issued to him by the Chairman of the Judicial Panel of Inquiry set up by President Muhammadu Buhari to investigate the allegations he leveled against the Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Mr. Ibrahim Magu.
“Magu had consistently requested the opportunity to confront his accuser before the Panel including an opportunity to be given the allegations leveled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation.
“Malami failed to appear before the commission to substantiate the allegations he leveled against Magu in the memo he wrote to President Muhammadu Buhari which was the basis upon which the Judicial Commission of Inquiry was set up by the President.
“However, upon conclusion of presentation of witnesses before the Commission of Inquiry, Magu was called upon to present his defence which he has done by presenting a volumes of written responses to all the allegations against him backed by numerous exhibits and truck load of documents showing his achievements as the Acting chairman of the EFCC.
‘’There were also official documents showing that no recovered assets was missing or diverted to personal use for his benefit or those of his close associates.
“Magu had also requested before the Tribunal to issue subpoenas to certain persons to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to give evidence in support of their allegations and to be cross-examined upon such wild and unsubstantiated allegations.
“In line with Magu’s request, Justice Ayo Salami who is the Chairman of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry signed and issued a subpoena to the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), at the instance of Magu to come and substantiate the allegations he made against him.
“In the said subpoena, it was stated as follows; “You are hereby commanded in the name of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry to give evidence in respect of your allegations against Mr. Ibrahim Magu”.
The defence team source however alleged that Malami wrote Salami’s panel that his allegations against Magu were official and he could not have come to Salami’s panel to face the suspended EFCC chairman.
The source added: “But instead of appearing before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, Malami wrote a letter in disobedience to the subpoena issued for him to appear on the authority of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“He said he would not appear as a witness. He hinged his refusal on the fact that he only made charges against Magu based on the petitions he received against him in his office.”
As at press time, Magu’s defence team has rejected Malami’s excuse for not honouring the panel’s subpoena.
The source said: “The above excuse is untenable and is clearly contempt of judicial authority and shows total disregard for the authority of President Muhammadu Buhari on whose authority the subpoena was issued requesting his appearance before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry.
“A few weeks back, Malami had taken to the media boasting to the whole world that he would appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry if summoned to do so.
“Now that the opportunity has been presented, he is shying away from that call because his allegations cannot be substantiated with facts or any shred of credible evidence.
“The position of the law is clear, whenever a petitioner refuses to substantiate his petition before the appropriate authority, such a petition is declared to be frivolous.
“Now that the main accuser of Magu has refused to appear before the Judicial Commission of Inquiry, the world waits with bated breath to see what justice Ayo Salami Judicial Commission of Inquiry will report to President Muhammadu Buhari.”
In his reaction, the Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami(SAN) said his non-appearance before Salami’s panel is constitutional.
He said his allegations against Magu were purely constitutional and not based on ulterior motive.
Malami made the clarifications in a statement through his Special Assistant on Media and Public Relations,Dr. Umar Jibrilu Gwandu.
The statement said: “The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN has said that his non-appearance at Justice Ayo Salami Panel of Inquiry probing the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, was purely Constitutional and not based on any ulterior motive.
“The Office of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice said the appearance or otherwise of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN) to serve as a witness in any investigation should be a constitutional matter.
“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 by Justice Ayo Salami’s Panel of inquiry against Magu runs contrary to the Constitutional provisions.
“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. 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.”