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Magu faces Salami panel as senior lawyer seeks his release

The embattled former acting chair of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, yesterday, in Abuja, appeared before the Justice Ayo Salami panel investigating him for sundry graft charges.

He arrived at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa venue of the sitting a few minutes past nine in the morning.

The ex-anti corruption czar was last Friday suspended from office to allow him to answer for the abuse of office and the sleaze allegations pressed against by the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and the Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami (SAN).

Besides Magu, a number of other top officials of the commission also faced the committee, while some directors and heads, who could not provide satisfactory responses last week, were directed to return today with relevant documents.

In the meantime, constitutional lawyer, Tayo Oyetibo (SAN), has sought the release of the erstwhile EFCC helmsman in the exercise of his constitutional rights as guaranteed in Section 35 of the 1999 Constitution (as amended).

The claims notwithstanding, Oyetibo maintained that an accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty by all extant laws.

He recalled that Magu was taken into custody on July 6 and has remained there prior to yesterday’s appearance.

His words: “Amid 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.”

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The legal practitioner continued: “In the case of an arrest where there is a court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres, otherwise he ought to be released on bail. It cannot be said that there is no court of competent jurisdiction within a radius of 40 kilometres in Abuja where Magu was arrested.”

He said it might be argued that the EFCC, which the detainee 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 constitution.”

In a related development, the member representing Ibadan South East I in the Oyo State House of Assembly, Fatai Adesina, has urged heads of the anti-graft agency to always live about board and remember that everyone would account someday.

During a live programme in the ancient city, he reminded all that power was transient.

The lawmaker stated that he was not taken aback by Magu’s fall, recounting that his predecessors toed the same path.

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