Magu: SAN, Lawyers Seek Bail for Suspended Anti-corruption Boss

July 15, 2020
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A Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr. Tayo Oyetibo, has called on the federal government to either charge Ibrahim Magu to a court or release him on bail.

Oyetitbo said the continued incarceration of the suspended head of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was a violation of Section 35 of the Constitution.

This comes as ElombahNews learnt the suspended Chairman of the EFCC, failed to submit the audited accounts of the anti-graft agency to the National Assembly as required by law.

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Information has emerged at the weekend that critics say Magu took advantage of the non-confirmation of his appointment by the Senate to avoid accountability leading to his current woes.

Elombah News has reported that Lawyers to the suspended Acting Chairman have written several letters over the weekend to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Presidential Investigation Committee seeking bail for Magu.

Other recipients of the letters include the Chairman, Presidential Advisory Committee on Anti-Corruption (PACAC), Prof. Itse Sagay, the Inspector General of Police, Mohammed Abubakar Adamu and the Deputy Inspector-General of Police in Charge of Investigation, FCID, Area 10, Abuja.

The first letter seeking to release him on bail was written by his counsel, Tosin Ojaomo from Ojaomo and Ojaomo Chambers.

Bail Ibrahim Magu

The Senior Advocate said though the EFCC under Magu was guilty of unlawful detention of Nigerians, the law of Karma had no place in the constitution.

In the statement titled “Magu Still Has Rights,” Oyetibo said despite the allegations against him, Magu had not lost his constitutional rights.

“On Monday, July 6, 2020 it was widely reported that the now suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, was arrested and taken before the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel of inquiry set up by the president to investigate a number of allegations raised against him.

“As of today (yesterday) Sunday 12 July 2020, Magu is reported to still be in detention whilst the investigation of the allegations made against him continues.

“Although the allegations made against Magu are said to be documented and border on serious economic crimes and abuse of office, that does not mean that he has lost his constitutional rights.

“Amidst the cacophony of allegations of serious crimes made against Magu, the law of Nigeria still speaks the same language, which is expressed in section 35 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which provides to the effect that every person who is arrested or detained upon reasonable suspicion of his having committed a criminal offence shall be brought before a court of law within a period of 24 hours in the case of an arrest in a place where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres otherwise he ought to be released on bail,” he stated.

He added that since there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres within Abuja where Magu was arrested, he should be taken before the court.

“While it may be argued that the EFCC which Magu hitherto headed was notorious for ignoring this constitutional provision in relation to citizens who were arrested under him, the law of Karma has no place under our constitutionalism.

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“For these reasons, Magu ought to be released on bail forthwith as otherwise the government would be acting excessively in breach of his rights,” he added.

•Annual report not submitted to N’Assembly in four years contrary to law

By Section 37 of the establishment act, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (Establishment, ETC) Act 2004, the commission is required to submit its report, including its audited account to the National Assembly every year.
It states: “The Commission shall, not later than 30th September in each year, submit to the National Assembly, a report of its activities during the immediately preceding year and shall include in such report the audited accounts of the Commission.”

Despite the refusal of the Eight Senate to confirm his appointment, first in December 2016, and later in March 2017, the agency was still required by law to submit its annual accounts as done by Magu’s predecessors, Mallam Nuhu Ribadu, Mrs. Farida Waziri and Mr. Ibrahim Lamorde in compliance with the establishment Act.

Critics say the insistence of the presidency in keeping Magu in office in an acting capacity, despite non-confirmation may have stalled accountability and oversight of the commission even as the National Assembly approves the agency’s budget every year.

This faceoff with the Senate enabled Magu to operate the way he did without any scrutiny, a development that negated the practice of the commission under his predecessors, Ribadu, Ibrahim and Lamorde, who complied with the provision of the law by submitting their annual reports and audited accounts to the National Assembly.

According to THISDAY, the kind of financial fraud, Magu is being accused of could only occur in an unsupervised organisation, adding that had the EFCC put itself through the process of an independent audit, a number of the issues Magu is now being accused of might have been resolved.

The Senate had in December 2016 rejected Magu’s nomination as chairman of the commission on the strength of a damning security report by the State Security Service (SSS), which declared him unfit for public office, saying his credibility could not be guaranteed.

Rather than withdraw Magu’s nomination, the presidency represented him in March 2017. Again the Senate refused confirmation and resolved not to consider him again for the position.

The presidency responded by maintaining him in an acting capacity, arguing that it did not require Senate approval for Magu’s appointment since the establishment act requiring legislative approval was in conflict with the power of the president to make executive appointments under the constitution.

With the Senate resolving not to have any dealing with Magu, the commission became unable to present its annual report to the National Assembly.

Analysts said had the reports been filed all of the issues that are being raised now would probably have been detected by the National Assembly.

“With this kind of situation,” said one analyst, “Magu would appear to have operated without supervision by either the National Assembly or the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, as the minister’s petition accusing him of insubordination has suggested.”

According to another analyst, this absence of legislative oversight would have been avoided if the presidency did not insist on having Magu as the boss of the anti-corruption agency.

Magu was accosted last Monday and taken before a presidential panel of enquiry led by Justice Ayo Salami, investigating allegations of corruption and insubordination brought against him by his supervising minister, Mr. Abubakar Malami.



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