The suspended boss of Nigeria’s anti-graft agency, the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has written to the Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential Investigative Committee, lamenting that it is unfortunate that he is being paraded like a ‘common criminal’.
Our correspondent S’Teller gathered that Magu made this known through his lawyer, Wahab Shittu, in a letter directed to the investigative committee on Friday, noting that he had not seen the petitions containing the allegations against him, nor had the committee availed him with their terms of reference.
“Mr Chairman, since the 6th of July when our client honoured your invitation, he has been consistently applying to the Committee to be given the petitions containing the allegations of CONSPIRACY, CORRUPT ENRICHMENT, ABUSE OF POWER/OFFICE, which request has not been honoured or obliged till date.”
See excerpts from the letter below;
“Our client has also informed us that he remains unaware of the terms of reference of this distinguished Committee.”
The letter also related Magu’s discomfort with his continued detention at the FCID “without being informed of the allegations against him and the deserved opportunity to timeously study and respond to same.”
The letter further contained a complaint that, “witnesses are called and examined by the Committee behind his back and without allowing him and counsel of his choice to participate in the proceedings involving these witnesses.”
He said he had been a target of campaigns of calumny by the media taking advantage of his detention to spread damaging, false and prejudicial allegations.
Among such “unfounded allegations which never featured in the proceedings of the Committee thus far,” the letter said, were that Mr Magu gave Vice President Yemi Osinbajo four billion naira (an allegation Mr Osinbajo has denied); that he ran secret accounts; procured cronies to front for him;, and that he acquired properties in Dubai.
“These campaigns of calumny have greatly affected the morale of our client and damaged his hard earned reputation and that of the Commission (EFCC),” the letter read.
“It continued, “that our client as a result of this campaign of calumny has been paraded like a common criminal and subjected to all manners of insults and embarrassment just for serving his nation diligently and efficiently as the arrow-head of the anti-corruption campaign of this administration
“This unfortunate development is happening even before the determination of the petitions before this Honourable Committee with prejudicial consequences.”
Magu, then made seven requests from the committee, including its terms of reference; access to the petitions against him to “enable him study and prepare a robust defence”; intervention of the committee to facilitate his release from the FCID detention; and adequate time to respond to the allegations against him with necessary materials and evidence.
He also sought an opportunity to confront the petitioners with his own defence; and requested that witnesses be examined in his presence and his counsel. He then asked the committee to guarantee “his right to fair hearing including his right to liberty in the course of the proceedings of this distinguished Committee.”
The investigative committee could not be reached to comment on Magu’s complaints as it does not have any known person with a responsibility for public relations role.
In the most likely event of a failure to return to his position, Magu, the fourth chief executive of EFCC, will be leaving the anti-graft agency rather unceremoniously, suffering a similar fate as his three predecessors – Nuhu Ribadu, Farida Waziri, and Ibrahim Lamorde.
The attorney-general, Mr Malami, said in a statement on Friday that Magu’s suspension, approved by Mr Buhari, was to enable an “unhindered” investigation. Mohammed Umar, the director of operations under Mr Magu, has been appointed to act as the chairman of the commission.
Security operatives attached to Mr. Magu’s private and official houses were withdrawn Friday evening, a family source said while expressing fears over the safety of the immediate family of the embattled anti-corruption fighter because of “enemies” made in the course of his job.
Amidst those controversies, we must not fail to understand that: unfair hearing, adverse publicity, unlawful arrest are among other forces that may technically defeat justice, if the accused is able to prove beyond doubts that these forces were melted on his person.
While seeking justice and fighting corruption, the Presidential Investigative Committee must therefore, act and use a civilise approach.