Magu Never Admitted Guilt, Beg Probe Panel For Mercy, Says Lawyer

Former EFCC boss, Ibrahim Magu

 

Wahab Shittu, the counsel to the suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, on Tuesday said his client never admitted to the allegations of corruption levelled against him.

In a statement, Shittu dismissed a report that Magu confessed to the panel that he was overzealous as EFCC chairman and begged for mercy, describing it as misleading.

According to the legal practitioner, the ex-EFCC boss did not admit guilt to corruption allegations, neither did he plead for mercy.

“At no time did Magu admit to guilt to the allegations, the subject matter of the inquiry. Indeed the only thing going for Magu is the conviction of his innocence,” Shittu said.

“A member of the panel had cause to inquire from me whether I am convinced that the panel will do justice to my client.

“I responded in the affirmative and I hope my optimism of the justice of the process at the end will not be illusory.”

Shittu said that as Nigerians wait on the Ayo Salami-led panel to do justice in this matter, commentators in the public space should comment based on facts and law.

The lawyer argued that the preoccupation of the inquiry is to reveal the truth without grandstanding, sensationalism, dramatisation or any attempt at coloration of the truth.

The danger is that these orchestrated stories in the public space may have the effect of shifting the real focus from the quest for facts and truth which is the real focus of the inquiry to sensationalism, half truths, propaganda which will neither benefit either Nigerians who are interested in the real facts and truth nor the panel members who have toiled for days to execute the assignment including the subject of inquiry whose proclamation of guilt or innocence will define his future career and his perception in the public space.

Magu is being investigated by a presidential panel over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets under his watch as acting chairman of the EFCC.

The ex-EFCC boss appeared before the panel last Friday to defend himself.

 

SEE FULL STATEMENT HERE:

Magu’s closing remarks to Salami panel twisted-Wahab Shittu

Our attention has been drawn to a misleading story in a certain online medium with a misleading headline – Magu confesses, Begs: I Was Overzealous as Acting Chair of EFCC, Please Save My Career.

We wish to state that this story was twisted fundamentally out of context by my client’s accusers who want to hit back at my client without justification.

It is true that Magu and my humble self -addressed the panel at the conclusion of his defence while Magu clarified that he threw himself to the job of acting chair because of his passion for the anti-corruption war, a situation that may be alleged overzealousness in some quarters.

He however pleaded for justice and fair-play by the panel members in the context of his overall achievements and his fledging career which hitherto remain unblemished and will terminate in two years’ time.

Counsel to Magu also urged the panel members in the interest of fear of God and loyalty to their conscience to ensure justice in the matter and concluded by thanking them for patience and understanding throughout the proceedings.

At no time did Magu admit to guilt to the allegations, the subject matter of the inquiry. Indeed the only thing going for Magu is his conviction of his innocence.

A member of the panel had cause to inquire from me whether I am convinced that the panel will do justice to my client? I responded in the affirmative and I hope my optimism of the justice of the process at the end will not be illusory.

As Nigerians wait on the Justice Salami- led judicial commission of inquiry to do justice in this matter, we call on commentators in the public space to comment based on facts and law and particularly based on the justice of the case.

The Judicial Commission Inquiry inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari on 3rd July 2020 “……..For the Investigation of Mr Magu Ibrahim, The Ag. Chairman Of The EFCC For Alleged Abuse Of Office And Mismanagement Of Federal Government Recovered Assets And Finances From May 2015 To May 2020” has progressed appreciably with a lot of work and sacrifices by the members and all those connected to the inquiry.

The main preoccupation of the inquiry is to unearth the truth and nothing but the truth with no grandstanding, sensationalism, dramatization, or any attempt at the coloration of the truth. This is the major concern of all Nigerians. On Friday 25th of September 2020 after days of sittings, Mr. Ibrahim Magu the subject of the inquiry rendered all his defence in the proceedings, and ever since that development, a lot of stories have been flying around in the public space. The danger is that these orchestrated stories in the public space may have the effect of shifting the real focus from the quest for facts and truth which is the real focus of the inquiry to sensationalism, half-truths, propaganda which will neither benefit either Nigerians who are interested in the real facts and truth nor the panel members who have toiled for days to execute the assignment including the subject of inquiry whose proclamation of guilt or innocence will define his future career and his perception in the public space.

The above is the compelling need for these interventions as a law officer in the temple of justice who witnessed most of the proceedings from the beginning and actually served as counsel to the subject of inquiry.

In this intervention, I intend to be as fair and objective as possible owing my loyalty to the fear of God and my conscience.

Signed

Bar. Wahab Shittu

Alleged Corruption: Nobody Can Condemn Magu Before He Defends Himself, Says Lawyer

Ibrahim Magu, EFCC Chairman, Senate
A file photo of acting EFCC chairman, Mr Ibrahim Magu.

 

Nobody is entitled to condemn Mr Ibrahim Magu before he is afforded the opportunity to defend himself in the corruption allegations levelled against him.

Mr Wahab Shittu, who is the lawyer to the suspended Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), said this in a statement sent to Channels Television on Sunday.

He insisted that his client was innocent of the corruption allegations against him, although he has yet to be given the chance to prove his innocence.

The legal practitioner explained that the statement was in reaction to an online publication that the panel led by Justice Ayo Salami investigating Magu had recommended his sack and prosecution to President Muhammadu Buhari.

He noted that following an earlier report of similar nature, the presidential panel advised them to ignore the story.

READ ALSO: Buhari Affirms Magu’s Suspension, Directs Mohammed Umar To Take Charge

According to Shittu, the suspended EFCC boss is yet to formally present his defence and proceedings are ongoing, and witnesses are still lined up for next week beginning from Monday.

He decried that despite repeated demands, his client has not been served with copies of allegations against him while the instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on him until 35 days after proceedings had commenced.

The lawyer added that the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, whose memo triggered the proceedings, has yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against Magu.

A file photo of the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami.

 

Among other issues raised, Shittu said his client was unable to gain access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence due to his suspension from office.

While the presidential panel was investigating the allegations of corruption against Magu, President Buhari affirmed his suspension from office on July 10.

A statement from the government explained that the presidential directive was to allow for an unhindered inquiry by the panel under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act and other relevant laws.

Read the full statement by Magu’s lawyer below:

23rd August 2020.

PRESS RELEASE

SALAMI PANEL CAN’T SUBMIT INTERIM REPORT WITHOUT HEARING FROM MAGU- WAHAB SHITTU

Gentlemen of the Press,

Based on press inquiries on my clients’ response to the story on The Cable news online medium captioned “Exclusive, Salami panel asks Buhari to fire, prosecute Magu for corruption”, we wish to state as follows:

  1. We are unaware of the source of the story and we are actually shocked that such a false story is being orchestrated in the public space, contrary to the stage of ongoing proceedings before the panel. We wish to state with high sense of responsibility that our client is yet to formally present his defence. Proceedings are ongoing and witnesses are still lined up for next week beginning from Monday. Please note that the earlier report of similar import published by The Pilot was brought to the attention of the panel and we were advised by the chairman of the panel to ignore the story. Our attitude is also to ignore this latest story as falsehood not reflecting the realities on ground.
  2. We all know that in spite of repeated demands, our client has not been served with copies of allegations against him.
  3. The instrument embodying the Terms of Reference was not served on my client until August 8, 2020 (35 days after proceedings have commenced).
  4. That the Honourable Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), whose memo triggered the proceedings, is yet to be summoned to testify to support the allegations against our client. He who “asserts must prove”.
  5. That our client was excluded from the initial stages of the proceedings with several witnesses testifying in his absence.
  6. That counsel to our client was not allowed to cross-examine many of the witnesses who had testified until recently.
  7. That our client is yet to be granted access to petitions/presentations, case files and exhibits admitted in the proceedings. Please note that we have written to the panel to that effect.
  8. That our client was accosted on the street and compulsorily requested to appear “immediately” before the panel without opportunity to access documents to adequately prepare his defence.
  9. That our client was subsequently detained for ten days after appearing before the panel in unpleasant circumstances. This detention is not covered by the Terms of Reference arising from the instrument constituting the judicial commission of inquiry.
  10. That our client, owing to his suspension from office, is unable to have access to official documents and other information necessary for his defence.
  11. That cases pending before superior courts of records such as Federal High Court, Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court are being reviewed in the proceedings. We believe that this development is subjudice and unhealthy for our jurisprudence.
  12. That witnesses appearing before the panel were not sworn on oath before giving evidence as stipulated under the Tribunals of Inquiry Act, 2004 on whose authority the instrument setting up the Judicial Commission of Inquiry is derived.
  13. It is curious and worrisome that an administrative panel of inquiry headed by His Lordship, Justice Ayo Isa Salami, having sat and taken evidence (both oral and documentary) in the past one month, has suddenly metamorphosed into a Judicial Commission of Inquiry. How this comes within contemplation of a commission of the Tribunal of Inquiry Act, 2004 is very questionable.
  14. We also raise serious objection to piecemeal release of the so-called interim report in the social media, particularly the WHISTLER online medium which claimed to have seen the interim report.
  15. It is instructive to state that the online medium went ahead to recklessly engaged in libelous publication where it listed individuals, and companies that being investigated for corruption by the EFCC allegedly paid bribes to my client.
  16. We are shocked that such a libelous publication against my client without hearing from him.
  17. This panel must address this weighty issue before the commencement of today’s proceedings.
  18. The Salami panel also revealed the identities of eight suspects that allegedly paid the bribes to Magu through pastor Omale and Shanono. Shanono allegedly received NGN570,698,500 from China Zhonghao Nigeria limited through the Zenith Bank account 1018895662 of his company, Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Ltd. “The transfers were in about 43 tranches between 5th December 2014 and 23rd June, 2015. The china Zhonghao Coy is being investigated by the EFCC for abandoning a road contract awarded to the company by the Zamfara State Government between 2012 and 2019”, the panel noted. An aide to a formal managing Director of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Nathniel Uyo, was alleged to have paid the sum of N10 million into an Ecobank Account Number 3912014141 of the Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry on 09/06/2018. The report said the former NDDC MD “was then being investigated by the EFCC over an alleged attempt to bribe members of the Akwa-Ibom State APC Appeal Committee in Abuja”. Pastor Omale, according to the Salami panel, also received N10 million from a Bureau De Change operator, 7*7 BDC Limited, through his Church’s Ecobank account. The report said that the BDC was being investigated by the EFCC for, “receiving over N1.6 billion (N1,600,000,000), part of the N27 billion (N27,000,000,000) Insurance Premiums looted during the administration of President Goodluck Jonathan”. A former Chairman of the Niger State Pilgrims Agency, Liman Kantigi, who was being investigated by the EFCC for allegedly misappropriating funds during his tenure at the agency, also allegedly paid N200 million bribe to Magu through Shanono. Kantigi, through his company, Sadiq Air Travels, allegedly transferred N200 million into the Access Bank Account of Shanono’s company, the report said. Weeks before paying the alleged bribe, the EFCC was said to have traced N4 billion to two Guaranty Trust Bank accounts linked to Kantigi. A government contractor, A.G Ferrero & Co. had also allegedly paid N213 million to another company belonging to Shanono, Newttech Aluminium and Roofing Service Ltd. “A.G Ferrero & Co. was a contractor to Jigawa State Government during the tenure fo Sule Lamido between 2007 and 2013. Lamido was investigated by the EFCC during the period”. The report said. The Salami panel said Pastor Omale, through his Church, also received N1.3 million from the company being investigated for alleged link to EFCC’s N1.5 billion money laundering case against a former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye. According to the panel, “Apartment Le Paradisi transferred One million three hundred and twenty thousand naira (N1,320,000.00) into Divine Hand of God Prophetic Ministry Eco Bank Account Number 3912014143, on 22/04/2014. The company had testified before the EFCC, in respect of a case involving the former Plateau State Governor, Joshua Dariye who was then being investigated for laundering about One billion five hundred million naira (N1,500,000,000.00). Former Plateau State Governor, Jonah Jang, was alleged to have paid N30,744,000 to Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Limited over his investigation for alleged looting of N6.3 billion while serving as governor of the state. Senator Jonah David Jang transferred the sum of thirty million seven hundred and forty-four thousand naira (N30,744,000.00) into the UBA account Number 1018895662 of Ahmed Ibrahim Shanono Investment Ltd, on 18th July 2016. Senator Jang, a former Governor of Plateau State is being investigated by the EFCC for alleged looting of Six Billion three hundred million naira (N6.3bn) belonging to Plateau State Government”, said the report”.
  19. The entirety of the publication above is first-class falsehood from the pit of hell. None of the issues arose from the proceedings of the judicial commission of inquiry. I recall Pastor Omale appearing before the panel to confirm openly that none of the transfers into the church’s accounts emanated from Magu and that Magu never donated to his personal or church account. It is also instructive to note that no character by the name Shanono ever appeared before the judicial commission of inquiry. The purveyors of this fake news may assume they are destroying the sterling image of Magu, but I have news for them. Majority of Nigerians however cannot be fooled. I can only refer to the testimony of former SGF Babachir Lawal on Magu thus

“But now in the case of Magu, the narrative is that corruption is fighting back. These are the impressions and the consequences of such conducts. Initially, I had the feeling that the system would come after Magu, especially the press and social media. If you are very discerning, you will know they are with him. The preponderance of opinions is in support of Magu’s position. The views being laid out are as if it is a witch-hunt. There are better ways to end Magu’s reign because no matter what anybody tells you, Magu tried. I used to joke that if you are a thief and you are caught by Magu, nobody can release you unless you cut off his hands. – Culled from The Punch Newspapers.

  1. THISDAY front-page lead story of Sunday 23rd August 2020 in a banner headline reported “Magu May Face More Investigations, Criminal Prosecution”

I am at a loss of how the paper arrived at this conclusion when it is clear to all that the only thing going for Magu is his innocence. We will not join further issues on the publication with the paper at this stage.

  1. We wish to confirm that the proceedings are still ongoing, and my client is yet to present his defence. We are therefore shocked at the suggestion that an interim report has been submitted to President Muhammadu Buhari. We all know that this is a democracy anchored on respect for the rule of law. Central to the rule of law is the element of fair hearing.

Section 36(1) of 1999 Constitution (as amended) is explicit on this. It provides;

“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations, including any question or determination by or against any government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal established by law and constituted in such manner as to secure its independence and impartiality.”

  1. We urge those bent on prejudicing the proceedings of the panel by planting false stories in the public space to think of the interest of our country and not prejudge our client whose commitment all along is service to the country.
  2. The only thing keeping our client going in spite of the desire of mischief-makers to pitch him unfairly against the authorities is his conviction of his innocence.

Please no one is entitled to condemn our innocent client before he is heard or before he is afforded the opportunity of defending himself on the merits.

Wahab Shittu (Esq)

W.K. Shittu & Co.

Presidential Panel Has Agreed To Take Magu’s Defence – Shittu

Suspended EFCC Chairman, Ibrahim Magu has been investigated by the Justice Ayo Salami-led panel following allegations of corruption levelled against him.

 

The Presidential Panel investigating the Suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, Ibrahim Magu, has agreed to take his defence and response at subsequent proceedings.

Magu’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu told Channels Television that he and his client appeared again at the Villa on Friday and the panel gave them the assurance that it is not rejecting Magu’s defence but that it is premature to take same now.

The panel says this is because it is currently interrogating several witnesses so that it can confront the suspended acting EFCC Chairman with the outcome of its findings from the witnesses.

READ ALSO: PDP Asks President Buhari To Resign Over Insecurity, Corruption Scandals

The panel also assured Magu that in line with the principles of fair hearing, he and his counsel, Wahab Shittu, will participate in further proceedings of the panel starting from Monday, July 27.

Magu’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu

According to Shittu, the panel said it is on a fact-finding exercise and no one including Magu is on trial.

He told Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele, that the panel had yet to make copies of the allegations against Magu available to him.

Mr Shittu, added that the panel warned against the publication of its proceedings especially because it believes the release of the allegations to the public carries serious ‘’security implications’’.

Consequently, Mr Shittu withdrew his undertaking to the panel in respect of the allegations.

Corruption Cannot Be Banished Totally Wahab Shittu

 

A legal practitioner and counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Wahab Shittu, says corruption cannot be completely eradicated from the country.

Although he described corruption as the ‘elephant in the room’ which needs to be tamed, he noted that it cannot be banished totally.

The lawyer made the comments on Tuesday while analysing the achievements of the Muhammadu Bu8hari administration at a Town Hall organised by Channels Television ahead of the Inauguration Day.

He said, When you talk of corruption, you talk of a breakdown of systems, institutions, a breakdown of societal traditions, and a breakdown of ethical and moral behaviours.

The elephant in the room is corruption. What we need to do is to tame this monster called corruption which is at the heart of our problems.”

Mr Shittu commended the present administration, saying it has achieved more prosecutions of corrupt officials than any other government.

According to him, the Buhari administration has also gained the recognition of the African Union for its anti-corruption drive.

The lawyer said, If you talk of the security and economic challenges that we have, at the heart of all of this is the menace called corruption and that is why we need to commend President Muhammadu Buharis administration.”

Corruption cannot be banished totally, but we need to put in place mechanisms to reduce it to its barest minimum, he added.

Rights Enforcement Suit: Court Allows Fresh Evidence Of Rickey Tarfa

Rickey-TarfaA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has allowed a Senior Nigerian lawyer, Rickey Tarfa, to file additional evidence in support of his fundamental rights enforcement suit against the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Justice Mohammed Idris on Wednesday, said that the EFCC would suffer no injury if Mr Tarfa’s “further and better affidavit” was allowed, stressing that it would better serve the interest of justice to allow the document.

Mr Tarfa had filed the additional evidence in opposition to an allegation by the EFCC that he offered a bribe of 225,000 Naira to Justice Mohammed Yunusa of the Federal High Court.

In the fresh evidence, a former member of  Tarfa’s law firm, one Mohammed Awal Yunusa, claimed to be the owner of an Access Bank account, which the EFCC had alleged belongs to Justice Yunusa.

The lawyer had earlier admitted that he and some friends donated the money to the judge for the burial of his father-in-law.

The EFCC’s counsel, Wahab Shittu, had opposed the fresh evidence, insisting it was an afterthought.

Justice Idris had ruled in Mr Tarfa’s favour on the grounds that a party should be allowed to bring any evidence or material that would aid his case.

Mr Tarfa had approached the court asking it to award him the sum of 2.5 billion Naira as damages against the EFCC over his unlawful arrest and detention.

Joined as defendants are: the Commission’s acting chairman, Ibrahim Magu, the EFCC operatives that arrested him, Moses Awolusi, and the Deputy Director Operations, EFCC, Lagos office, Iliyasu Kwarbai.

Apart from the monetary compensation, Tarfa also asked the court to compel the defendants to release his two mobile handsets allegedly collected from him on Friday, February, 5.

He stated that the EFCC intended to destroy all information, data and other retrievable materials stored in the two handsets.

Mr Tarfa also sought an order urging the court to direct the defendants to release his Mercedes Benz SUV with registration Number, KJA 700CG unlawfully seized from him.

The Senior Advocate of Nigeria also asked the court to order the EFCC, Magu and the other defendants to publicly apologise to him in at least two widely circulated national newspapers, on social media and the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) as well as Channels Television within 24 hours from the day of the judgment of the suit.

He asked for an order of perpetual injunction restraining all the defendants and their agents from further violating his rights.

Hearing of the application has been fixed for Thursday, March 3.

Rickey Tarfa Denies Bribery Allegation

Rickey-TarfaA Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Rickey Tarfa, has told a Federal High Court in Lagos that it’s not true he gave a bribe of 225,000 Naira to Justice Mohammed Yunusa.

The senior lawyer said that it was common knowledge in legal circles that Justice Yinusa lost his father in-law, Garba Damasa, on 28 December, 2013 in Maiduguri.

He said that the donation, which was made on January 7, 2014, was made by some friends of the judge towards the funeral rites of the judge’s Father in-law.

Mr Tarfa is challenging his unlawful arrest & detention by the EFCC, an incident which happened on February 5 at the premises of the Lagos High Court in Igbosere an area in Lagos Island.

He is seeking 2.5 billion Naira as compensation for exemplary and aggravated damages as well as a public apology from the anti-graft agency.

After adopting the substantive application, the supporting affidavit and other documents in the case, Mr Ayorinde urged the court to rule in his clients favour

But the prosecuting counsel, Wahab Shittu, asked the court to dismiss the suit for lack of merit or in the alternative stay further proceedings pending the determination of the criminal charge against the applicant at the Lagos High Court.

He argued that the facts and circumstances of the case which arose from the incidence of February 5, has resulted in a criminal action.

Obstructing the EFCC from carrying out its statutory duties, according to the lawyer, is an Offence punishable with a minimum of five years imprisonment going by the EFCC Act.

After listening to the arguments, Justice Mohammed Idris adjourned the case till February 29 for his ruling.

Enugu Impeachment: Nigeria Needs Code Of Political, Ethical Conduct – Legal Expert

ImpeachmentNigeria’s democracy cannot grow if the practitioners are not willing to be democrats.

A Legal Practitioner, Wahab Shittu, said this on Sunrise Daily on Tuesday, during a conversation on the impeachment brouhaha in Enugu State.

Fifteen out of 24 members of the Enugu State House of Assembly had on Monday commenced an impeachment process against the State Governor, Sullivan Chime, putting forward allegations of forgery, inflation of funds for state project execution and unlawful acquisition of public landed property.

The process took a different turn when eight members of the House loyal to the Governor sat, impeached the Speaker, Honourable Eugene Odoh, and shot down the House indefinitely.

Despite his impeachment by the eight members of the House, the ‘impeached Speaker’, Honourable Eugene Odoh, said that the 15 lawmakers would continue with the impeachment process on Tuesday, insisting that the Governor had been duly served.

Reading from the constitution, Mr Shittu stated that the simple interpretation of the constitution means that both factions of the Enugu House of Assembly have erred in the manner they have gone about their intentions.

While the eight lawmakers trying to protect the Governor by impeaching the Speaker cannot possibly be taken serious because they are not up to two-third of the House members, the 15 trying to impeach the Governor have also acted against the constitution.

According to him, those who have served the Governor an impeachment notice cannot proceed except from the premises of the legislative house and their impeachment notice is not binding if not served to all members of the House.

Having stated few constitutional breaches already noticed, he stated that since the 15 lawmakers have been prevented from convening in the assembly, insisting on impeaching the Governor, if done in another location, would be unconstitutional.

He also berated the Police for preventing lawmakers from gaining access into the assembly premises. He wondered why political officers should be prevented by the Police from performing their duties in a democracy when it is the duty of the Police to protect democratic institutions.

Mr Shittu would not condemn the morality of allegations from both parties but stated that it is the constitutional function of the House of Assembly to represent, make laws and perform oversight functions.

On the back of this, he maintained that all members should be allowed to enter the assembly and together decide what actions they want to take.

On the refusal of the House to approve the Governor’s request for 11billion Naira, he said; “They should consider that request only on merit,” adding that the interest of the people only should matter and not other factors like its timing.

He added also that the Nigerian Constitution needs some of its sections properly interpreted.

An example of this is the argument about what is needed to carry out a major function like the impeachment of a Speaker in the House – if it is two-thirds of the all members of the House or two-thirds of members present at the session.

Although Mr Shittu had earlier argued that the simple interpretation is that two-thirds of all members of the House is what the constitution recommends for any key decision to be binding, he suggested that a ‘code of political and ethical conduct’ be put in place to guide how politicians carry out their activities and it should be binding on every lawmaker.

He added that the constitution also needs to clarify what specific actions should amount to “gross misconduct” as the allegation has been widely used as a tool to settle scores.

Nigeria needs to strengthen two key institutions; the judiciary and the Police, Mr Shittu said, adding that “if these two institutions are strengthened and act professionally all these impunity will stop”.

Nasarawa Impeachment: Commissioner Insists Case Against Al-Makura Is Over

Nasarawa Impeachment_Hamza MohammedFollowing the dismissal of allegations against the Nasarawa State Governor, Tanko Al-makura, the Commissioner for Information in the state, Hamza Mohammed, believes that as far as the law is concerned, the crisis in Nasarawa State should be over.

He made this assertion on Channels Television’s weekend breakfast programme, Sunrise.

The Nasarawa impeachment investigative panel set up by the State Chief Judge, Justice Suleiman Dikko, to investigate the 16-count allegation of misconduct and breaches of the constitution levelled against Governor Al-Makura had dismissed the allegations against the Governor following the failure of the State House of Assembly to provide evidence in support of the claims.

The panel held that in criminal proceedings, the onus lies on the person who had made the allegations to prove culpability and that since the state’s lawmakers had failed to prove the allegations, the panel had no choice but to dismiss the allegations.

On the back of this, Mr Mohammed, during the conversation, said: “Section 188 subsection 7 of the constitution says that as soon as the report of the panel is a ‘not guilty’ charge, no further proceedings has to be undertaken in regards to impeachment issue and we believe that is the situation now”.

He, however, berated the Minister of Information, Labaran Maku, for allegedly urging the Assembly men to carry on with the impeachment process, during a rally of the People’s Democratic Party.

He maintained that as far as the party was concerned, the Governor “has not committed any misconduct to warrant any impeachment” since his assumption of office, adding that he has the support of the people of the state.

A legal practitioner, Wahab Shittu, who was also on the programme, said that the respect for the constitution and the rule of law was most important and that it should be the perspective that Nigerians should be concerned about, as adhering to it would help the country’s democracy survive.

According to him, “impeachment is both a constitutional process as well as a political process.

Electoral Act Amendment: Looking At The New Provisions

Electoral Act provisionsStakeholders in the Nigerian political landscape have continued to express varying views on the ongoing process of amending the Nigerian Electoral Act with the recent passage of some provisions by the Nigerian Senate.

The July 6 edition of Politics Today on Channels Television focused on the new provisions of the amendment of the Electoral Act with guests from the legal and political sphere engaging in the conversation.

A legal practitioner, Wahab Shittu, believes that the only way to sanitize the electoral process was to review the laws and he lauded the Senate for making some of their decisions, which he said were steps in the right direction. Although, one of the amendments regarding the penalty for election result falsification, he said was too light.

A 12 month imprisonment with an option of a 500,000 Naira fine, he stated, was not deterrent enough as he argued that there should have been no option of a fine for such magnitude of crime which he said should have attracted a life jail.

A politician, Ken Okolugbo, also part of the conversation, noted that the Nigerian Senate has done very well with its approval of electronic voting. Although he admitted that the practise might not start immediately, he believed that it was a good foundation for a stronger electoral system.

He, however, differed with Mr Shittu as regards the penalty for election result falsification. The Political Scientist noted that Nigeria’s democracy was relatively young and as such would need to grow gradually.

He explained that the 12 months imprisonment was a good way to put all stakeholders in check, starting with the Youth Corpers who are usually deployed as electoral officers during elections. He believed that the fear of being jailed for 12 months was enough to stop them from engaging in sharp practices.

Burden of Proof At Election Tribunal

With the new amendments, the burden of proving irregularities during an election has been lifted off INEC.

Barrister Shittu believes that nothing has changed as the burden has always remained with the petitioner. He noted that it would have been better to have the Burden of Proof vested on the electoral commission because having conducted the election; they should be saddled with the responsibility of proofing that it was credible.

He also emphasized the need for an Election Offence Commission. He said that its non-inclusion in the Senates amendments was unfortunate.

Ken Okolugbo, who had been a victim of delay in electoral justice, agreed that INEC should have a major part of the job of proving the credibility of their elections. He cited his experience in court in the process of proving the irregularities of an election but ended up having his evidences nullified despite providing proofs sourced from the internet and seen to have been valid.

Shittu also disagreed on the power given to INEC to disqualify candidates. He argued that disqualification of candidates should be based only on them having flouted certain provisions of the constitution. He believes that too much power was being given to INEC to interfere in the internal democracy of political parties.

Okolugbo, however, expressed happiness at the provision. He believes the new development means that individuals can no longer be disqualified based on mere disagreements except a court says the person was not qualified.

Another new development was that the Senate also disagreed with INEC’s plan to conduct elections in one day and Barrister Shittu agreed with the Senate’s refusal to approve this in the amendment. He referred to their decision as being realistic as they knew the challenges associated with elections in Nigeria.

Okolugbo also aligned with the view of the Senate that the INEC does not have the capacity to conduct the presidential and governorship elections in one day.

Both guests however disagreed on the decision of the Senate not to legalise political debates. While Barrister Shittu opined that democracy was about the people and they should be given the opportunity to know the programmes of candidates in any election, Okolugbo believes that although the idea was good for democracy and so could be practised, it does not have to be included in the Electoral Act.

It Is Difficult To Fault Transparency International’s Report- Legal Practioner

A legal practitioner and public affairs analyst, Mr Wahab Shittu on Monday noted that it is difficult to fault the Transparency International ratings of countries around the world except you are able to come forward with statistics showing bias in the conduct of assessments and ratings.

Speaking in reaction to the position the agency ranked Nigeria amongst the 177 countries rated in the world, Mr Shittu said “that assessment shows that our corruption performance is worse than that of last year when we scored 27 points out of a possible 100 points” revealing that “this year we scored 25 points”.

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s flagship breakfast show, Sunrise Daily, he berated the fact that “we are coming down in terms of assessment”.

He listed factors considered by Transparency International as “abuse of power, secret dealings, bribery and embezzlement” adding that the “focus is on public sector corruption.

In spite of the ratings by Transparency International, Mr Shittu noted that it is imperative to assess the success achieved by anti-graft agencies especially the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)”.

Citing the bad reception public office holders give the ratings anytime it is released, he noted that corruption is a “global issue” and “Transparency International is a world body” insisting that it has its “own criteria”.

“In that criteria, some countries are judged the cleanest countries, so unless you can come up with statistics showing bias, it is difficult to fault what Transparency International has been doing in terms of this assessment” he said.

He also believes we need to do more particularly now that “our leaders have come forward to acknowledge that corruption is a major issue”.

Quoting from the September 2013 EFCC Report, he said “out of 368 cases that were taken to court in 2013, the EFCC was able to secure about 80 convictions” adding that “EFCC was able to make substantial (monetary) recoveries” within the period in view.

He added that the figures released by the anti- graft agency in December shows that “the EFCC has managed to secure about 1, 000 convictions” adding that the most recent is a local government chairman who was sent to six months in prison.

He however maintained that the fight against corruption “is not for the EFCC alone” insisting that “it is a collective fight”.

Mr Shittu said “whoever is responsible for underfunding the EFCC is doing a great disservice to our country” insisting that the executive and legislative arms of government should explain to Nigerians why the anti-graft agency is being starved of funds.

State of the Nation Address Seeks To Wither President’s Power

A legal practitioner; Wahab Shittu, has blamed the drafter of the State of the Nation address bill for some contravention of the bill against the constitution.

Speaking on Channels Television breakfast show Sunrise Daily, the lecturer of law with the Department of Law, University of Lagos, explained that the use of words such as ‘shall’ and ‘summon’ in some of the Act’s stipulation is geared at withering the President’s power of discretion in addressing the National Assembly as stipulated in Constitution.

He urged Nigerians not to see the lingering crisis between the Presidency and National Assembly over State of the Nation Act as a conflict, noting that the major problem with the State of the Nation bill is the way the law was drafted, as some of the bill’s stipulation is in contravention of the Constitution.

He also welcomed amendments demanded by President Goodluck Jonathan which amongst other things, seek to allow him send a representative to deliver the address if he is not disposed.

The lawyer also advised the lawmakers to probably amend the section of the Constitution which gives the President the power of discretion on the State of the Union Address before coming up with the new law which will ‘mandate’ the President on the address.

Mr Shittu said the legislative drafter who is charged with the responsibility of drafting a law must ensure that the law that he purposes to draft must not contravene in the constitutional law of the country, stating that “law must not contravene constitutional provisions.”

The lawyer added that the legislative drafter must ensure that the law which he intends to draft does not run fowl of the fundamental rights provisions of the law.

PART 2

Lawyer Says Ex-Pension Director’s Punishment Mocks Judiciary

A lawyer and lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Wahab Shittu has described the judgement delivered in the case between the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission and a former director in the Pension office, John Yakubu as a mockery of the judiciary.

Lawyer and lecturer in the Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Wahab Shittu

Speaking as a guest on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, Sunrise Daily, Mr. Shittu said he was shocked when he heard that the former pension boss was handed a two-year jail term or an option of N750, 000 fine for an over N2 billion scam.

“Honestly, when I listened to that judgement, my immediate reaction was one of shock, one of disbelief, one of disappointment,” he said.

Watch video below for the complete interview: