By Mathew Dadiya, Abuja
Ninety-four days after, Justice Ayo Salami-led investigative panel that probed the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, has not submitted its report to the President.
The panel sat for over 60 days before Magu was served a copy of the 22-point allegations levelled against him by the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.
President Muhammadu Buhari signed the letter of instrument on July 3, 2020 and named the panel as commission of inquiry to look into alleged mismanagement of recovered assets against Magu; and Magu was arrested on Monday, July 6, 2020 and taken before the panel, while the letter of invitation was made available to Magu on Saturday, August 8.
After exhausting the earlier 45 days given to it to conclude the probe, the President extended the period of sitting following a request by Justice Salami led panel.The President later granted six weeks extension to the panel to conclude their findings but couple of days after the expiration of the extension last Friday, the panel is yet conclude and submit its report to the President.
According to a source, ”Though the tenure of the panel had expired, Salami and other members have continued to hold sessions in order to enjoy the sitting allowances and other pecks attached to the assignment.”
But more than 90 days since that period, the panel is yet to have a clear-cut direction or convince observers that it was not established to witch-hunt or persecute individuals regarded as enemies by some top government officials.
A situation that has caused many pundits to raise suspicion over what they described as ”a hiding agenda project.”
The inquiry into Magu’s stewardship is dragging and giving room for speculations
as legal experts are saying that being a panel of inquiry, Justice Salami has no reason to delay such a probe.
The development further prompted one of the leading national newspapers to state in its editorial opinion that, “Whatever may be the issues in this unfortunate saga, the crux of an anti-corruption commitment ought to be a strict adherence to the rule of law. So, the irreducible minimum in the investigation of Magu, and the EFCC, is that there be transparency and that justice be served at the end.
”Therefore, leaving the issue to speculations and conjectures is very much unhelpful. And the manner the Presidential Investigation Committee is being carried out leaves many questions hanging. If for close to six months the panel is still sitting and is not sure of when it would conclude its assignment, is the investigation open-ended?”
The delay by Justice Salami panel to conclude its inquiry and submit its findings to Mr President has continued to stir up suspicion.
Saharareporters, had on Monday, alleged in a news story titled: ”Nigeria’s Attorney-General, Malami, Sets Up Committee To Write Report For Salami-led Panel In Magu’s Probe, ” saying that the report by Malami’s committee will be adopted and submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.
According to the online news, ”the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami (SAN), has constituted an in-house panel to write a report for the Justice Ayo Salami-led investigative panel probing suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu.
Quoting sources, it said that ”the report by Malami’s committee will be adopted and submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari.
It was further gathered that the AGF was using his closeness to the President and the inability of Justice Salami to function optimally due to age constraints to turn the entire case on its head in a bid to nail Magu.
Accusing the panel of bias, another lawyer representing Magu, Wahab Shittu, in a letter dated September 4, 2020, called for Malami to appear before the panel to ensure a fair hearing.
But Malami declined to honour Justice Salam’s invitation to appear before the panel to substantiate the allegations he made against Magu, instead he wrote a letter where he gave reasons for his refusal.