- There are allegations that some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) have their hands deepened in the money-making pie of corruption in the country
- For instance, the acting chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ibrahim Magu, claimed that a particular SAN collected a high legal fee from a corrupt politician
- Magu remarked that the unnamed SAN accepted professional fee of N1.7bn from a certain politician who lacks morals
Ibrahim Magu, the acting chairman of the Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has alleged that some Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN) have been frustrating the anti-graft war by helping in the distribution of the proceeds of crime.
Magu said a particular SAN, whose identity he left unrevealed, received N1.7bn as legal fees from a corrupt politician, Punch reports.
He said the same SAN received N300m from a governor in the south-south as legal fees for an election petition case and failed to pay tax but quickly took advantage of the Voluntary Asset and Income Declaration Scheme (VAIDS) when he realised he was under probe.
Magu made these allegations in a piece titled, Need for Ethical Reforms as NBA Conference Begins. The piece was written to coincide with the annual general conference of the Nigerian Bar Association, which is to held in Abuja on Monday, August 27.
Magu said: “It is personally disheartening to see lawyers who invest their talents and expertise in advancing the cause of corrupt politicians and public officials. It is amazing that a senior lawyer can accept professional fees of N1.7bn from a politician without scruples.
“The same lawyer with a turnover of N3, 765,414,995.24 only paid valued added tax of N7, 051,928.24. The N300m cash payment which the senior lawyer received from a South-South state government in an election petition matter in 2016 was never captured in his tax submissions to the Federal Inland Revenue Service.
“Yet when he got wind of EFCC investigation, he was quick to take advantage of the VAIDS window as cover to shield himself from the commission’s dragnet.”
The EFCC boss said another senior advocate evaded taxes running into billions of naira but paid only a fraction of the amount.
He stated: “Another senior lawyer who is quick to advertise himself as the nemesis of the EFCC, has a turnover of over N5.1bn with an assessed total tax liability of over a billion naira between 2010 and 2017. Sadly, he merely declared a meagre N8m as gross earnings for 2014 and 2015, and N10m for 2016.”
The EFCC boss said there was a need for lawyers to demand to know the sources of income of their clients before receiving any money.
Magu urged lawyers to put the interest of Nigeria ahead of any other monetary consideration. He further said: “While we are mindful of the fact that there may be more than one side to a situation which equally deserves of robust presentation and defence, we believe that no matter the positions we take on any issue, Nigeria should come first.”
Meanwhile, NAIJ.com reported that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo arrived Lagos state on Monday, August 21, to attend the Nigerian Bar Association Annual General Conference (NBA2017AGC).
He was received by Governor Umar Ganduje of Kano state and the president of the NBA, Abubakar Balarabe Mahmoud. Osinbajo was interviewed by CNN international anchor, Zain Asher at the conference.
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