Magu May Not Get Justice – International Groups write Buhari

Former Acting Chairman, Economic and
Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu is unlikely to get
justice at the Presidential Panel set to probe him, Nigeria’s leading
anti-corruption group and its international partners have said.

In a letter addressed to President Mohammadu Buhari, the Human
Environmental Development Agenda, (HEDA Resource Centre), Global
witness, Cornerhouse and Re:Common said the panel has spent more days
than necessary without establishing any serious case against the former
EFCC boss.

If the panel cannot establish proven case of corruption against Magu,
the groups urged Buhari to disband the panel and save Nigeria from
local and international embarrassment.

It is the third time HEDA and it’s partners have raised the same concern
in six months.

The letter signed by HEDA’s Chairman Olanrewaju Suraju; Global witness
Director, Simon Taylor; Cornerhouse Director Nicholas Hildyard; and
Re:Common Director Luca Manes expressed profound concerns over the
conduct of the judicial inquiry into allegations made by the Attorney
General, Abubakar Malami, that Magu had abused his office when he was
Acting Chair of the EFCC.

The group said it has no problem with the investigations but rather that
the investigation has, from the start, been so deeply flawed and biased
that impartial observers have long since given up hope of Mr Magu
receiving a fair hearing.

Suraju said President Buhari should be aware that international
anti-corruption campaigners now regard the Panel as nothing less than a
Kangaroo Court designed to witch-hunt Magu and slow down the
anti-corruption wheel.

“At almost every stage, Mr Magu has been denied due process. He was not
provided with the allegations against him until 35 days after the Panel
had convened. His lawyers have repeatedly been excluded from many of the
hearings. Most of the witnesses were examined without Mr Magu being
present. Witnesses have been allowed to testify without swearing to an
oath of truth” HEDA and it’s partners said.

The group said the Attorney General Malami, has refused to comply with a
subpoena ordering him to give testimony, on the dubious grounds that he
was merely passing on complaints that had been made to him by others.

Suraju said “We have no reason to doubt the integrity of the Panel’s
chair, Mr Justice Ayo Isa Salami before his appointment; but he is just
one member of a Panel that has been packed with Ministry of Justice and
security agency officials who are among Magu’s accusers.”

Moreover, HEDA and partners expressed worry about reports that Magu’s
chief accuser, Attorney General Malami, has set up an in-house committee
to write the Panel’s report.

“If true, this would be an insult to justice.
We implore you to act. When the Panel was established on 3 July 2020,
you gave it 45 days to report. That deadline has long since passed. The
report was that another 60 days was granted after the expiration of the
original 45 days. It is now more than 120 days”

The group wondered how much longer must the travesty continue.

It said the Panel has had its time, disobeyed the clear instructions to
report by a specific deadline and should now be disbanded.

“If the Panel has not found credible evidence against Mr Magu, then it
should say so. If it is too incompetent to write a report within the
mandated time, then it should be wound up, and the public  protected
from further unwarranted calls on the stipend that Panel members draw”
The groups said.

The anti-corruption groups argued that every day that passes with this
matter unresolved is a day that gives succour to those who oppose the
Government’s fight against corruption.

“We cannot overstate the damage that Attorney General Malami’s vendetta
against Mr Magu has inflicted on the reputation of Nigeria and, indeed,
your Presidency. It encourages the view that those who fight corruption
can, with the connivance of senior government officials, be brought down
or incapacitated through flimsy and totally unsubstantiated accusations
of wrongdoing.” HEDA said.

It urged the President to be conscious of the fact that the era of
United States President, Donald Trump is drawing to a close adding that
it expects the incoming Joe Biden Presidency to strongly resume the
global fight against corruption warning that the suspicious trial of
Magu and the implication on the fight against corruption is likely to be
for US-Nigeria relationship, in particular around law enforcement and
cooperation.

HEDA, Cornerhouse, globalwitness and Re:common said Nigeria deserves
better than this.

“Nigeria needs those of the calibre of Mr Magu to be at the forefront of
the fight against corruption, not side-lined because he insists that
no-one should be beyond the reach of the law. Without Magu’s leadership,
as the High Court in London recognised, the P&ID case would likely have
been decided in P&ID’s favour. With Eni now taking Nigeria to the
International Centre for Settlement of Investor Disputes for declining
(rightly) to convert OPL 245 to an Oil Mining License, the restoration
of Magu to his office is of paramount importance.”

HEDA said without Magu Nigeria can only be handicapped in resisting
Eni’s bullying.

HEDA urged President Buhari to take firm decisions to restore the
diminishing reputation of the country in her fight against corruption.

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