A lawyer representing Mr Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) at a panel of inquiry looking into several allegations against him, says that his high-profile client never asked his panellists for mercy.
Wahab Shittu, an activist lawyer, says that Mr Magu has not confessed to any wrongdoing and is bent on clearing his name. Mr Magu is being investigated by a presidential panel headed by the retired Court of Appeal Justice Ayo Salami, over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets under his watch as acting chairman of the EFCC.
Mr Magu appeared before the panel on Friday to defend himself.
Mr Shittu, in a statement released on Tuesday, said several reports in the media stating that Magu confessed to the panel that he was overzealous as EFCC chairman and begged for mercy, were misleading.
“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,” said Mr Shittu.
“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 fledgling 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.”
Mr Shittu said that as Nigerians await the Ayo Salami-led panel to do justice in this matter, commentators in the public space should comment based on facts and law.
Mr Shittu said that the objective 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,” the lawyer said.