Wahab Shittu, counsel to Ibrahim Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says there is a deliberate attempt to tarnish the “sterling image” of his client.
Reacting to the interim report of the presidential panel probing corruption allegations against Magu, Shittu said his client has not been given fair hearing.
TheCable had reported that the panel headed by Ayo Salami, retired president of the court of appeal, recommended Magu’s sack and prosecution.
The panel also recommended the appointment of a new chairman for the anti-graft agency “without further delay”.
However, in a statement on Sunday, Shittu claimed the panel is yet to make any recommendation to President Muhammadu Buhari.
He said proceedings are ongoing and Magu is yet to formally present his defence.
“We are unaware of the source of the story and we are actually shocked that such story is being orchestrated in the public space, contrary to the stage of ongoing proceedings before the panel,” he said.
“We wish to state with a high sense of responsibility that our client is yet to formally present his defence. Proceedings are ongoing and witnesses are still lined up for next week beginning from Monday.”
Shittu said in spite of repeated demands, Magu has still not been served with copies of allegations against him.
He said the president’s letter dated July 3, 2020, which captures the terms of reference of the panel was not served on his client until August 8, 2020 (35 days after proceedings has commenced).
He added the Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) whose memo triggered Magu’s probe, “is yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations” adding that “he who asserts must prove”.
Faulting the proceedings of the panel, Shittu said oaths were not administered on all the witnesses who were called to testify against Magu, contrary to the provisions of Section 5(b) of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act 2004.
He added that he was not allowed to cross-examine all the witnesses.
Shittu also debunked at least four reports from different media organisations on Magu, saying the only thing Magu has going for him in the deliberate attempt to “pitch him against the authorities” is his innocence.
“We urge those bent on prejudicing the proceedings of the panel in the public space to think of the interest of our country and not prejudge our client whose commitment all along is service to the country,” he said.
“Please no one is entitled to condemn our innocent client before he is heard or before he is afforded the opportunity of defending himself on the merits.”