An eminent professor of law, Itse Sagay (SAN), on Monday faulted the composition of the panel probing Ibrahim Magu, Acting Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
By Joseph Jibueze
He believes the former President of the Court of Appeal and chairman of the panel, Isa Ayo Salami, is the only person without a vested interest in the team.
Sagay said: “I criticised the Salami panel for taking evidence from the accusers behind Magu’s back and for not giving him the petitions against him in advance of his defence.
“Also from the reports we read, the panel is packed with representatives of the DSS (Department of State Services), the Ministry of Justice and others from security agencies. These are also his accusers.
“Justice Salami appears to be the only neutral person on the panel.
“The Supreme Court of the golden age era once condemned this in strong terms in Chief Gani Fawehinmi v. the Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee ( 2 NWLR (Pt. 7) p. 300) as ‘come here quickly for your assured condemnation’.
“But I believe that the Hon. Justice Salami, who has a huge and impeccable reputation as a man of integrity, will not permit any injustice to occur in spite of the above composition of the panel.”
Sagay clarified a report (not by The Nation) in which he was quoted to have said that Magu may never be prosecuted.
He said: “The headline of the report is falsely and deliberately designed to give that impression. But on page 28 of the paper, it is clearly shown that the maker of that statement is an official of the Presidency who wants to remain anonymous. “It is clear that the paper dishonestly implied that I made that statement in order to boost sales at my expense. This is clearly unethical.
“What I said was that Magu could not be prosecuted before the Salami Report is out and that Malami’s allegations are just what they are, allegations in a petition.
“I added that the allegations must be investigated in order to determine their veracity and the issue of whether they could be used as a basis for building up evidence.
“No one is prosecuted on unverified allegations as the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) wanted, otherwise it would be a lost cause from the very beginning.
“I made it clear that Malami’s petition was just the beginning of a process that could lead to prosecution if solid evidence is established upon investigation.
“I did not say Magu may not be prosecuted. I am not privy to the politics of the Presidency. That was from the Daily Independent’s unnamed source in the Presidency.”