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Groups ask Buhari to disband Salami panel, reinstate Magu

Groups ask Buhari to disband Salami panel, reinstate Magu
November 15
18:13 2020

The Human Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA), Global Witness, Corner House and Re:Common have called on President Muhammadu Buhari to disband the presidential panel set up to probe Ibrahim Magu.

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Magu, suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is being investigated by a panel headed by Ayo Salami, retired president of the court of appeal.

In a letter addressed to Buhari, the groups said Magu is unlikely to get justice.

The letter was signed by Olanrewaju Suraju, HEDA’s chairman; Simon Taylor, Global witness director; Nicholas Hildyard, Cornerhouse’ director, and Luca Manes, Re:Common’s director.

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They said the panel has spent more days than necessary without establishing any serious case against the former EFCC boss and urged Buhari to disband the panel and save Nigeria from “local and international embarrassment”.

The groups said they do not have any problem with the investigations but from the start, the probe “has been so deeply flawed and biased that impartial observers have long since given up hope of Magu receiving a fair hearing”.

They said 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”.

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“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,” they said.

“At almost every stage, Mr Magu has been denied due process.

“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.”

The groups also expressed worry about reports that Abubakar Malami, attorney general of the federation, has “set up an in-house committee to write the panel’s report”.

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“If true, this would be an insult to justice. We implore you to act,” they said.

“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.

“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.”

They also added that said without Magu, Nigeria can only be “handicapped in resisting Eni’s bullying”.

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“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,” they said.

“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.”

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