Justice Ayo Salami, chairman of the presidential panel investigating Ibrahim Magu, suspended chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), says he does not regret his appointment to serve on the panel.
Magu is being investigated over allegations of abuse of office and mismanagement of recovered assets from May 2015 to May 2020 — the time he acted as chairman of the anti-graft agency.
Magu’s lawyers have always disagreed with the panel.
In a memo on Tuesday, Salami accused the lawyers of planting reports in the media that he regretted chairing the panel.
“The reports were a figment of the wild imagination of the reporter, the two lawyers quoted as his sources and the medium that published the story,” he said.
“There was no time anything near the unthinkable scenario painted in the false story occurred in any meeting between myself and the lawyers to Magu or any other person, for that matter, since the Judicial Commission of Inquiry began its sittings.
“I have no cause to express any regret over my chairmanship of the commission, not to talk of betraying any form of emotion before anyone about it. I see my appointment to serve as the chairman of the commission of inquiry as an honour and call to service, thus my decision to accept diligently and patriotically discharge this responsibility.
“I have never appointed any of the two lawyers or any other person(s) to speak on my behalf as I can express myself without recourse to the lawyers of the persons we are probing. As an eminent jurist, who retired as the President of the Court of Appeal, I have handled much more complex cases than the current one before the commission. There is no doubt that the false reports were aimed at causing mischief and tarnishing my hard-earned reputation and integrity. I remain resolute and committed to the service of the nation and ready to champion the ideals of justice and fairness.
“I want to point out that such wild claims against me and the commission are not strange to me, given the manner in which the lawyers to Magu have been carrying on in the conduct of their client’s case before the commission. Planting such lies in the media about proceedings at the panel has been their pastime. They believe that it is by engaging in such media propaganda against the commission that their client can be easily absolved of the various allegations that have been brought against him.”
The retired president of the appeal court also said the “lies and blackmail” would not deter him and other members of the panel from discharging their duty.
He said the panel would continue its investigation of the allegations against Magu with a view to unearthing the truth and ensuring that justice is done.
Aisha Buhari bows to pressure, withdraws case against Internet critic
Wife of the President, Aisha Buhari, has withdrawn her case against a final-year student of the Federal University, Dutse, Jigawa State, Aminu Mohammed, following pressure and condemnation by activists, Amnesty International, the National Association of Nigerian Students, and other Nigerians.
The prosecution counsel, Fidelis Ogbobe, while withdrawing the case on behalf of Mrs Buhari, said the President’s wife, being the mother of the nation, decided to withdraw the case following the intervention of “well-meaning Nigerians”.
Moving a motion for the withdrawal of the case, Ogbobe cited Section 108 (2)(a) of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act. Justice Yusuf Halilu of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory commended Mrs Buhari for withdrawing the case.
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The 24-year-old student had alleged in Hausa that the wife of the President was “feeding fat on poor people’s money”. It was reported that he was moved from Bauchi to Abuja on Aisha’s command and locked up.
Muhammad’s uncle, Shebu Azare, had, in an interview published by BBC Hausa, on Monday, said the victim’s father, Mallam Adamu, was not aware of his son’s arrest until five days later when the matter had escalated.
The matter had also generated a lot of reactions, with prominent Nigerians, including the presidential candidate of the African Action Congress, Omoyele Sowore, and other human rights activists calling for the student’s release.
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According to a police report, Muhammed was arrested at Federal University Dutse on November 18, 2022, after the wife of the President instructed a team of police detectives to track him down.
The Presidency had also barred visitors from visiting inmates at the Suleja Correctional Centre, Niger State, following the arrest of Aminu.
Before the withdrawal of the case, about 250 women groups from across the country under the aegis of Feminist Womanifesto demanded Aminu’s immediate and unconditional release from detention.
The women also demanded the release of Zainab Kassim, a former social media aide to the wife of the president, Aisha Buhari.
The groups, in a letter to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, dated December 1, 2022, described the action of the first lady as a gross violation of human right to personal liberty, freedom of speech and right to seek legal counsel, adding that no female leader should be associated with such abuses of power.
The letter signed by Convener of the groups, Abiola Akiyode-Afolabi and made available to journalists in Abuja on Friday read in part: “Various news outlets have suggested that the arrest of Muhammed and Kassim was in obedience to orders from Mrs. Aisha Buhari and that the student was beaten in her presence.
“We are concerned that despite the call from Nigerians nothing has been said by the office of the First Lady or the government in this regard to counter the narrative.
“The development is unacceptable in a civilian regime; the rule of law is expected to be prioritised in all arrests. Furthermore, in this period marking 16 days of activism against gender-based violence, no leader and certainly not a female leader should be associated with such abuses of power. No one should be above the law.
“We believe that the actions constitute a gross violation of human right to personal liberty, freedom of speech and right to seek legal counsel.
“These actions also infringe on Section 35, Chapter 4 of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, which states that an arrested person must be brought before a competent court of law within a reasonable time of 48 hours. It has been over 21 days since their arrest.
“We are worried about the continued detention of these citizens and its implications on the country’s human rights reputation. We are compelled to write to your esteemed office to demand an immediate investigation of the arrest, detention and assault of Aminu Muhammed and Zainab Kassim.
“We call your attention to the constitution which states in Section 35 (6), Any person who is unlawfully arrested or detained shall be entitled to compensation and public apology from the appropriate authority or person; and in this subsection, ‘the appropriate authority or person means an authority or person specified by law.
“We also demand the Office of the First Lady of Nigeria to respond to the allegation for the sake of public good and accountability.
“We hope you will use your good office to cause and investigate in this regard to ensure that the law takes its cause and both Aminu Muhammed and Zainab Kassim are released or taken before a court of competent jurisdiction.
“Nigerians are watching! We call on you to do the needful.”
Oyetola left N76bn salary, pension debts
Mrs Bimpe Ogunlumade, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance in Osun, says the state government has discovered a salary and pension-related debts, amounting to over N76 billion, left by the immediate past Gov. Adegboyega Oyetola’s administration.
A statement by Malam Olawale Rasheed, the Spokesperson of Gov. Ademola Adeleke of Osun, said on Thursday in Osogbo that Ogunlumade made the revelations while briefing officials of the new administration on the state’s financial status.
According to Rasheed, the Osun Government has uncovered a monumental debt in salaries, pensions and insurance commitments incurred by the administration of Mr Gboyega Oyetola, amounting to N76 billion.
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“This revelation was made by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Mrs Bimpe Ogunlumade, while briefing officials of the new administration on the financial status of the state on Thursday.
Some public servants earn more salary than the president – RMAFC boss
Mohammed Shehu, chairman, Revenue Mobilisation, Allocation and Fiscal Commission (RMAFC), says some political appointees earn more salary than President Muhammadu Buhari.
Shehu disclosed this during an interview on Channels Television on Thursday.
The RMAFC boss, who spoke on the commission’s plan to review judicial and political holders’ salaries, said some officials of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) collect salaries higher than the president.
He said the country needs to review allocations as some agencies remit less revenue.
“The severance package of the president is just N10.5 million. This is after the president leaves office. You can imagine after spending four or eight years, that would be the only take-home. The salary of Mr President is not up to N1.3 million a month,” he said.
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“There are people in the private sector and others in other public sectors that earn twice, three times or four times. No public servant should earn a salary bigger than Mr President. But we do have public servants that earn salaries bigger than Mr President, such as in the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), etc.
“My argument has always been that no public servant should earn allowances, severances, or salaries larger than the president of the federal republic of Nigeria, and I stand by it.”
Speaking further on how salaries would be reviewed, especially on current realities, Shehu said salary review would go through processes.
He, however, added that salaries may be reviewed upward after going through due processes.
“When you do a review, the takeoff point is not immediate. And this is a process that has to go to the president and then to the national assembly, and then it becomes a law,” he added.
“I can not tell you whether we can afford it or not, but what I can tell you is there are unremitted revenues out there, probably estimated from N6 trillion to N7 trillion that should be remitted to the federation account.
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