The Global Integrity Crusade Network (GICN) has called for caution on plans to extend an invitation to the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, SAN, to appear as a witness before the Justice Isa Ayo Salami Panel.
The Justice Salami Panel is currently probing allegations of corruption against the suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) Ibrahim Magu.
GICN at a press conference in Abuja explained why the AGF should not appear before the panel.
Its Executive Director, Barrister Edward Omaga, said it is needless for the AGF to appear before the panel because the panel has gathered evidence which was enough to do justice in its report.
He said since the proceedings at the panel began, the group decided not to dabble into the affairs of the panel, to enable it to come up with a report that cannot be faulted by Nigerians because according to him ”we trust the integrity of the former president of the Court of Appeal’”,
”There were reports that the Attorney General of the federation and minister of justice (AGF), Abubakar Malami, is to appear as a witness before the panel and like we rightly stated earlier, we at GICN want the members of the panel to be allowed to use their own wisdom in discharging their mandate without being teleguided by people who are supposed to be busy defending themselves by responding to allegations made against them.
Going further he said the AGF has been playing a supervisory role on the EFCC and we make bold to say that the number one chief law officer of the Country has played this role creditably well,
so there is no need to have him as a witness before the panel.
He said there may appear conflicting roles as AGF may be regarded as a witnessing party and someone offering legal advice on the matter to Mr. President.
He added that GICN envisages a situation where some individuals want to use the appearance of the AGF as bait to deprive him of rendering his Constitutional responsibilities of offering legal advice on the matter as well as deprived Nigerians from benefiting from the AGF’s legal acumen.
He also said in framing a charge, as is the case with all other proceedings, the office of the Attorney General is exercising a constitutional role of prosecution and not a role of testimony.
Omaga also stated, ”Demanding the office of the Attorney General to testify in a witness capacity, in a facts findings inquiry, will have the effect of compromising on its constitutional role of the office of the AGF as it relates to the examination of the eventual discoveries within the context of its constitutional role.
”The constitution does not envisage the role of a witness in the office of the Attorney General of the Federation over a matter in which it stands in a prosecutorial and supervisory role”.
”It can not, therefore, be placed in a compromised position making it impossible for the office to exercise its constitutional role of proffering a legal opinion or prosecuting the allegations when the report establishes a prima facie case justifying prosecution.”