Magu Probe: Malami Cautioned against Appearing as Witness 

*Malam Abubakar Malami, Nigeria's attorney-general and minister of justice 
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By Ebere Agozie

The Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) has called for caution in plans to invite the Attorney-General of the Federation Abubakar Malami, SAN, to appear as a witness before the Justice Ayo Salami-led Investigative Panel.

The Panel is currently probing allegation of corruption against the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu.

Edward Omaga, a lawyer and Executive Director of GICN, made the suggestion during a news conference in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said there was no need for the AGF to appear before the panel since the panel has gathered enough evidence to do justice to its report.

Omaga said that since the proceedings began, the group decided not to dabble into the matter to enable the panel come up with a report that cannot be faulted by Nigerians because they trust the integrity of the former president of the Court of Appeal.

“There were reports that Malami is to appear as witness before the panel and we are saying the panel should be allowed to use its own wisdom in discharging its mandate without being teleguided by people who should be busy defending themselves by responding to allegations made against them.

‘`The AGF has been playing a supervisory role on the EFCC and we make bold to say that the number one chief law officer of the country has played this role creditably well, so there is no need to have him as witness before the panel.

“We should be reminded that at the completion of the sitting, the report would be sent to President Muhammadu Buhari, who will in turn seek the legal view of the AGF.

“So, if he is invited to be a witness before the panel, he would be deprived from offering his constitutional legal view when sought, having appeared as a witness at the panel?”, he queried.

He said that if the minister is allowed to appear as a witness before the panel, it will compromise his constitutional duty and be tantamount to compromising his legal duties.

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He added that Malami’s appearance at the panel will appear conflicting as he may be regarded as a witnessing party and also someone offering legal advice on the same matter to Mr President.

“In framing a charge, as is the case with all other proceedings, the office of the Attorney-General is exercising a constitutional role of prosecution and not a role of testimony’.

“We see the call as a bait to deprive the AGF of the opportunity of performing his constitutional responsibility of offering legal advice on the matter.

“Therefore, we are call on the Justice Ayo Salami panel to ignore the call for Malami to appear as a witness before it”.

Omaga also said: “demanding the office of the Attorney-General to testify in a witness capacity in a fact-finding enquiry, will have the effect of interfering with the constitutional role of the AGF as it relates to the examination of the eventual discoveries within the context of its constitutional duties.

“The constitution does not envisage the role of a witness in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation over a matter in which it stands in a prosecutorial and supervisory role.

‘`It cannot therefore be placed in a compromised position, making it impossible for the office to exercise its constitutional role of proffering a legal opinion or prosecuting the allegations when the report establishes a prima facie case justifying prosecution”.

NAN reports that on Sept.10, Malami said that he was ready to testify against the suspended acting chairman.

Malami was reacting to a letter by Wahab Shittu, counsel to Magu, dated Sept.  4 and addressed to the committee chairman, demanding that Malami, appear before the panel to provide evidence regarding his allegations against his client.

He said his appearance before the tribunal of Inquiry would ensure a fair hearing.

(NAN)

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