Wahab Shittu, lawyer to Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says the verdict of the UK court in Nigeria’s case with Process and Industrial Developments (P&ID) vindicates his client.
In the judgment delivered on Thursday, Nigeria secured a landmark victory in its pursuit to overturn a $10 billion arbitral award against it in the case against P&ID.
Ross Cranston, a judge of the Business and Property Courts of England and Wales, granted Nigeria’s application for an extension of time and relief from sanctions.
Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF), had accused Magu of neglecting a presidential directive mandating him to investigate the P&ID deal in 2018.
He said Magu’s negligence could have caused Nigeria to lose an “estimate of Forty-Seven Billion, thirty-six million, five hundred and twenty eighty thousand, two hundred and nine Naira (N47, 036,528,209.00)”.
In a statement on Sunday, Shittu said Magu should be commended for the way he handled the investigation.
Shittu cited paragraphs 251, 253, 254 and page 260 of the judgment where the UK judge held that he was satisfied with the manner in which the EFCC carried out its investigation.
“Magu should be celebrated rather than be vilified. It is rather unfortunate that the handling of P&ID investigation forms part of the allegations against Magu which led to his suspension,” he said.
“There is no gainsaying that the evidence relied on in arriving at the decision came from the EFCC under Mr Magu.
“The public does not know that while this investigation was ongoing, the investigators and prosecutors including Magu used to close from work at 1 am, 2 am and resume by 8 am including Saturdays and Sundays.
“Unfortunately some of these men are currently on suspension without pay or transferred out of EFCC for doing nothing but working assiduously to save this country.
“They were not given any allegation or issued query. Contrariwise, the investigation against Mr. Magu and the EFCC would have caused the country to lose the judgment.
“This is because P&ID used the petition by the AGF against Mr Magu to strengthen their case with Nigeria. Luckily, we have an upright English Judge who prudently appreciated the excellent and patriotic effort of the EFCC under Magu and the ineffectiveness of the AGF’s complaint.”
President Muhammadu Buhari had set up a panel to probe Magu over allegations of corruption.
In its interim report, the panel recommended his sack and prosecution.
The panel also recommended the appointment of a new chairman for the anti-graft agency “without further delay”.