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Nigeria: Panel Can’t Submit Report Without Magu’s Defence – Lawyer

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Following the report over the weekend that Justice Ayo Salami’s panel has submitted interim report of the findings in its probe of former acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu to the president, Magu’s lawyer has said there was no way the report would be submitted without Hus client’s defence.

In a press statement yesterday, the lawyer, Wahab Shittu said “we are unaware of the source of the story and we are actually shocked that such a false story is being orchestrated in the public space, contrary to the stage of ongoing proceedings before the panel.

“We wish to state with high sense of responsibility that our client is yet to formally present his defence. Proceedings are ongoing and witnesses are still lined up for next (this week) week beginning from Monday (Today).”

He further stated that “the earlier report of similar import published was brought to the attention of the panel and we were advised by the chairman of the panel to ignore the story. Our attitude is also to ignore this latest story as falsehood not reflecting the realities on ground.

“We all know that in spite of repeated demands, our client has not been served with copies of allegations against him.

“The instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on my client until August 8, 2020 (35 days after proceedings has commenced).”

He further stated that his “client was excluded from the initial stages of the proceedings with several witnesses testifying in his absence and was not allowed to cross-examine many of the witnesses who had testified until recently.

” Also, our client is yet to be granted access to petitions/presentations, case files and exhibits admitted in the proceedings. Please note that we have written to the panel to that effect. Our client was accosted on the street and compulsorily requested to appear ‘immediately’ before the panel without opportunity to access documents to adequately prepare his defence.

“Owing to his suspension from office, he is unable to have access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence.”

The statement also added that “It is curious and worrisome that an administrative panel of inquiry headed by His Lordship, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, having sat and taken evidence (both oral and documentary) in the past one month, has suddenly metamorphosed into a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. How this comes within a contemplation of a commission of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act, 2004 is very questionable.

“We wish to confirm that the proceedings are still ongoing and my client is yet to present his defence. We are therefore shocked at the suggestion that an interim report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari. We all know that this is a democracy anchored on respect for the rule of law. Central to the rule of law is the element of fair hearing.”

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