Nigeria: Magu - Malami Declines to Appear Before Panel Probing Allegations

24 September 2020

The Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF), Abubakar Malami, has said he would not appear before the Ayo Salami-led investigation panel investigating the suspended Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) chair, Ibrahim Magu.

Mr Malami said that his appearance before the panel is not within the ambit of his constitutional right.

Mr Magu is currently being investigated by a panel headed by Mr Salami, a former president of the Court of Appeal, over allegations of graft and insubordination levelled against him by Mr Malami.

Mr Malami's complaint led to the suspension of Mr Magu as acting EFCC chairperson, during the investigation of the activities of the latter at the EFCC from May 2015 to May 2020.

The lead counsel to Mr Magu had in a letter sent to the investigative committee requested that Mr Malami appeared before the panel and provide evidence regarding his allegations against his client.

The lawyer said the appearance of the AGF before the tribunal of Inquiry would ensure a fair hearing.

In reaction, Mr Malami had last week openly announced on Arise TV, that he would be willing to testify against the suspended EFCC boss.

He said as a public official in government, it is needed to be submissive to the rule governing the rule of law component in the country.

But at Wednesday's sitting at the panel, Mr Malami wrote to the panel stating his reasons for his refusal to appear before the committee, the PUNCH newspaper reported on Thursday.

According to the report, a lawyer to Mr Magu, Tosin Ojaomo, stated that the AGF said his office only permits him to prosecute and file charges, and not to testify.

Mr Ojaomo, said "We were all gathered at the Presidential Villa for the day's proceedings when Justice Salami read out a letter from the AGF. The AGF stated that he would not be able to testify because his constitutional role does not include testifying. He said his duty was to prosecute and file charges.

"I was shocked because Section 174 of the constitution does not give the AGF such privileges. Isn't it funny that the AGF who levelled a series of allegations against Magu is now refusing to substantiate the allegations that emanated from his office?"

Efforts to reach the AGF spokesperson, Umar Gwandu for comments, were unsuccessful. He requested that questions be sent to his WhatsApp number for a reaction.

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Mr Gwandu is yet to respond as at the time of this report.

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