Wahab Shittu, the counsel representing the suspended Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chairman, Ibrahim Magu, has again written to the Ayo Salami-led investigative panel, demanding fair hearing and copies of relevant exhibits from proceedings of the committee.
Shittu requested that all records from the proceedings be provided to his client and his counsel ahead of the embattled EFCC boss’s defence before the judicial commission of inquiry.
The lawyer also asked the panel to provide his client with adequate time and facility as he prepares to defend himself, as well as access to all exhibits tendered in the proceeding.
Shittu said the request was in compliance with Section 36 of the Nigerian constitution.
President Muhammadu Buhari had in a letter dated July 3 approved the establishment of a Judicial Commission of Enquiry under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act (Cap T21, LFN, 2004).
Magu’s counsel had in a letter addressed to Salami’s investigative panel, faulted the committee’s interpretation of its role as a judicial commission of inquiry.
Although the Tribunals of Inquiry Act provides for public sittings, it says a panel has “in its absolute discretion, to admit or exclude the public or any member of the public or the press from any meeting of the tribunal.”
In reaction, Shittu argued that despite the powers of the inquiry to exclude members of the public, it is not for the entirety of the proceedings.
“If you want to exclude members of the public, it has to be on selected occasions. Now, they have not allowed members of the public to the proceedings,” Shittu said.
President Buhari had also directed the panel to submit its interim reports to him not later than 45 days starting “from its first public sitting.”
For over a month now, Magu has continued to appear before the presidential panel investigating him over allegations of corruption and insubordination.
He was arrested on July 6 in front of the EFCC Wuse II office. The allegations were levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami.
The exact date that the presidential panel held its first sitting is unknown because the panel had been sitting behind closed doors, barring journalists from covering its activities.
However, given the date of the letter directed to the Salami-led panel, the committee ought to have submitted its report on August 16.
Shittu in his latest letter urged the panel to clarify the duration of the sitting and whether Buhari has extended the period.
“We humbly request that you note that in view of the timeline stipulated above and the need to clarify the duration of the sitting and whether the appointing authority has extended the period,” Shittu said.
“It is of utmost importance that access to the required documents is granted to our client and his counsel to ensure seamless proceedings and the guarantee of fair hearing as ‘enriched’ in the constitution,” he added.