The Justice Ayo Salami-led panel has been accused by Wahab Shittu, the counsel to the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, of various acts of illegalities and violations of the right of the suspended EFCC boss to fair hearing.
The letter dated August 11, 2020, was addressed to the Chairman of the panel, which is probing Magu for alleged abuse of office and mismanagement of Federal Government recovered assets and finances from May 2015 to May 2020.
Magu’s lawyer in the letter forwarded to the panel alleged that the panel’s proceedings had been conducted in violation of not only the presidential instrument appointing it but also the Tribunal of Inquiry Act, 2004, which empowers the President to set up the JCI.
He described as “curious and worrisome” that the panel led by Salami, which started as an administrative panel of inquiry taking oral and documentary evidence in the past one month suddenly metamorphosed into a Judicial Commission of Inquiry.”
“How this comes within the contemplation of a Commission of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act 2004 is very questionable.”
He further stated that despite the Suspended EFCC boss being the reason for the investigation, he was not formally invited to appear before the panel and that the instrument appointing the JCI which was signed on July 3, 2020 by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari(retd), was not served on him until 35 days after.
Faulting the secretive nature of the proceedings of the panel, Shittu conceded that the panel had the power to, in a given situation, exclude members of the public from its proceedings, but cited section 2(d) of the Act which he argued does not permit the panel to bar the public from “the entirety of the proceedings but limited to few special situations in the context of the public sittings”.
Shittu said, aside from barring the public from its proceedings, he and his client were excluded from the proceedings of the panel on numerous occasions, particularly, the July 11, 12, and 13, 2020 proceedings.