Justice Ayo Salami has reportedly said he regrets heading the presidential panel set up to investigate Ibrahim Magu’s tenure as Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Two lawyers present alleged that Justice Salami made the statement at the close of Mr Magu’s defence hearing which held at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Friday.
Recall that the panel, headed by Mr Salami, a former President of the Appeal Court, was charged with probing allegations of corruption and insubordination by Magu, following complaints by the Attorney-General of the federation, Abubakar Malami.
This development led to the suspension of Mr Magu as EFCC Acting chairman.
Civil society groups and activists had demanded that the sitting of the panel be made public for the sake of transparency and fairness since journalists were banned from covering the hearing. The government, however, did not give in to their demand.
In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, two of Mr Magu’s lawyers who were at Friday’s sitting, Tosin Ojaoma and Zainab Abiola, said before the commencement of the proceedings, Mr Salami told them that he regrets accepting the task to chair the panel.
“We all sat down as lawyers, after a little period, Justice salami said he regretted working in this panel.
“As soon as the proceedings opened, Salami was full of regrets, he (Salami) brought out his handkerchief and said he is full of regret taking up the job. Then our team asked him, is it because the panel is yet to find evidence against our client, (Magu), Mr Salami did not respond he only kept saying he regrets taking up the job,” Mrs Abiola said.
Mr Ojaoma also gave a similar narrative.
“Mr Salami kept saying he feels embarrassed for talking up the job. He also lamented that for years after he had retired he was seated in his home eating Tuwo (a popular food from the northern part of Nigeria),” without any disturbance, Mr Ojaoma said.
Mr Salami’s panel was supposed to have sent in its report, but it asked for more time to conclude its assignment.
Mr Buhari had approved the establishment of the Salami panel, tagged the Judicial Commission of Enquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004), for the investigation of the activities of the EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020.