Facts have emerged on the real reason the Justice Ayo Salami-led investigative panel looking into allegations of abuse of office and corruption against suspended Acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Ibrahim Magu, asked for an extension for the assignment.
Against public perception that the demand for an extension by Salami, a retired judge and former President of the Court of Appeal, was occasioned by the volume of work still left to do, SaharaRepoters on Wednesday reliably gathered that the request, which has been approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, who sanction a further six weeks, was actually made so as to clear the way for chairman of the panel to continue feeding fat on tax payers’ money.
Apart from pocketing N250,000 each time the panel sits, retired Justice Salami has also been enjoying other benefits, which he is not willing to let go yet.
For instance, he is lodged at the Presidential Suite at Transcorp in Abuja and was flown to Ilorin, Kwara State, in a Presidential jet for the last Sallah holiday.
Also, Salami is set to travel to London for medicals but the trip is being packaged to look like he is going to interrogate a former Minister of Petroleum Resources, Diezani Alison-Madueke, who has been accused of financial misappropriation on a grand scale.
President Muhammadu Buhari had while inaugurating the seven-man panel on July 3, 2020 given it a 45-day mandate to conclude its findings and submit a report.
But more than 60 days since that period, the panel is yet to have a clear-cut direction or convince observers it was not established to persecute individuals regarded as enemies by some top government officials.
Salami had on August 21 while being asked when the panel would conclude its work said that he does not know the time.
Informed sources disclosed that the retired justice is deliberately expanding the scope of the panel’s work so as to continue pocketing the juicy sitting allowance and also enjoy other pecks that comes with the assignment.
In a desperate attempt to nail Magu, Salami summoned a bureua de change operator, Hammed Sanunu, for questioning.
The BDC operator, however, claimed never to have met or transacted business with the suspended Acting Chairman of the EFCC.
Accusing the panel of bias, Magu’s lawyer, Wahab Shittu, in a letter dated September 4 called for Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to appear before the panel to ensure a fair hearing.
It was Malami, who recommended Magu’s removal over allegations of corruption in a letter to President Buhari.
Shittu in the letter argued that his client was entitled to knowing the allegations against him especially those by Malami, whom he described as his “main accuser”.
He added that the request was in compliance with Section 36 of the Nigerian constitution.
With Salami’s statement of not knowing when the panel would conclude its work and a lot of free money up for grabs, Magu’s ‘persecution’ by powerful forces through the seven-man team led by the retired justice could linger longer than expected.