Wahab Shittu, counsel to Ibrahim Magu, suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, has faulted the recommendation of the Justice Ayo Salami-led Judicial Commission of Inquiry to stop police officers from heading the agency.
Shittu in a statement on Tuesday said that the reported recommendation was targeted at his client, who had not been given a fair hearing.
According to the lawyer, the recommendation of the panel if true is dead on arrival as the appointment of the EFCC boss was clearly spelt out in section 2(1)(a)(i-ii) of the EFCC Act 2004.
He said, “We were further alarmed with media reports stating: “If the plan to remove the police from the EFCC is approved, it will foreclose the recall of Acting Chairman Ibrahim Magu”. We had waited patiently for a rebuttal of this story. Unfortunately, the story has not been retracted forcing us again to respond to the misleading report.
“As counsel of choice to Magu, our immediate reaction is one of shock that the panel could contemplate what is clearly outside its mandate for undisclosed reasons. Clearly, we are unable to understand how a Judicial Commission of Inquiry constituted by law will arrogate to itself powers outside its statutory mandate including taking over the functions of the National Assembly to amend the EFCC Act 2004. Our client, who is incorruptible and remains innocent of all the allegations levelled against him by his accusers, was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari in line with the EFCC Act.
“We wish to state with high sense of responsibility that if the media report on the matter is true, it is dead on arrival as the appointment of the EFCC boss is clearly spelt out in section 2(1)(a)(i-ii) of the EFCC Act 2004.
“For the avoidance of doubt, the said section states as follows – (1) The commission shall consist of the following members: (a) A chairman, who shall (i) Be the chief executive and accounting officer of the commission; (ii) Be a serving or retired member of any government security or law enforcement agency not below the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police or equivalent.
“This is the position of the law guiding the operations of EFCC as at today until the National Assembly amends the act. This will appear to be what the Salami Judicial Commission of Inquiry is setting out to do contrary to the terms of reference of the commission.”
Recall that Magu was arrested on July 6, 2020 by security forces to answer questions by the panel headed by Salami and remained in detention until July 15 when he was released on bail.
Magu is being accused of mismanagement of recovered funds and lack of transparency in the recovered assets.
He is also being accused of allegedly amassing wealth illicitly and also shipping money to foreign countries through cronies.
The suspended EFCC Acting Chairman has consistently denied all of those allegations while the panel led by Salami is yet to prove its case against him.