The Justice Ayo Salami-led Presidential panel probing the activities of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC) under the suspended acting Chairman, Mr. Ibrahim Magu, has rejected a request by Magu to invite the President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari; the Minister of Defence, Bashir Magashi; and Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok Ibas.
Others who were supposed to appear before the panel include a former Chairman of the commission, Ibrahim Lamorde; the Director General of the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit, Modibbo Hamman-Tukur; EFCC’s Acting Director, Directorate of Asset Forfeiture and Recovery Management, Mr Aliyu Yusuf; an EFCC lawyer, Bala Sanga; and a former EFCC official, Isa Dongoyaro.
It was gathered that the Salami-led panel had last week drafted a subpoena addressed to the naval chief, minister and others to appear.
It was however learnt that the panel made a U-turn and decided not to invite them anymore following the refusal of the Attorney-General of the Federation, Abubakar Malami (SAN), to honour its summons.
A lawyer to Magu, Mr. Tosin Ojaomo, said the suspended EFCC boss did not have a chance to properly defend himself since the panel rejected his appeal to invite those who would have been able to explain the allegations against him.
Ojaomo said the panel had closed its probe and was putting together its report which it would soon submit to the President Muhammadu Buhari.
“Justice Salami refused to subpoena those we asked him to serve. He had drafted subpoenas to the chief of naval staff, minister of defence, chief of staff to the President, the DG NFIU, the AGF and Lamorde.
“I am sure he refused to issue the subpoenas because of the way the AGF refused to come forward. So, we have closed our defence and I am sure the report would be submitted anytime from now.
“Magu was forced to defend himself without any witness of his coming forward. But no one accused Magu of stealing. In fact, those who have pending cases in court only asked that the charges filed against them be withdrawn,” Ojaomo said.
The panel, which sat for three months, summoned at least 50 persons, including activist, Chief Mike Ozekhome (SAN); General Overseer, Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry, Prophet Emmanuel Omale; senior advocate, Godwin Obla; Managing Director of First City Monument Bank, Adam Nuru; as well as several government officials.
Buhari had while inaugurating the seven-man panel on July 3, 2020, given it 45 days to round off its activities and submit its report.
The President listed the seven members of the panel to include Salami (North-Central); Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Michael Ogbezi (South-South); a representative of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Muhammad Babadoko (North-Central); and Hassan Abdullahi from the Department of State Services (North-Central).
Others are Muhammad Shamsudeen from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation (North-West), Douglas Egweme from the Nigerian Financial Intelligence Unit (South-East) and Kazeem Atitebi (South-West), who serves as the secretary.
The President subsequently gave the panel an additional six weeks to conclude its probe.
Magu was detained for 10 days when the panel began sitting but was later released.
He was suspended from office along with over 12 other senior officials of the commission, including the EFCC Secretary, Ola Olukoyede.
The suspended EFCC boss was accused of being unable to account for the interest that accrued to over N500 billion in recovered funds.
He was also said to have purchased a house in Dubai for N573 million through his pastor, who operates an account with FCMB.
The bank later issued an apology, claiming that the N573 million was credited to the bank account of the pastor in error and that the error was not discovered for over four years.