Evidence has emerged to further back up the August 20, 2017, story by SaharaReporters that Kano law professor Mamman Lawan, who was nominated to the board of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) by President Muhammadu Buhari, is embroiled in corruption, abuse of privilege and professional misconduct issues.
Available court documents now categorically identify Mr. Lawan as a lawyer to late Mohammed Musa and later, his heirs. We reported that Mr. Lawan was appointed to an estate owned by Musa before he died in February 2004, to hold and manage the estate in trust for the heirs who were minors at the time of their benefactor’s demise.
In a rejoinder on our report, Lawan denied “direct client-lawyer relationship with the heirs,” admitting only to rendering legal services to the estate on the instructions of the administrator.
On the contrary, in the case file by the Upper Sharia court Gyadi-Gyadi L/KARACV/168/2004, dated 10 and 17 January 2005, Lawan and Murtala Auwal, another lawyer, were introduced as attorneys to the 11 heirs. The same case file further identifies Lawan, in Hausa, as “lauyan magada,” meaning: lawyer to the heirs.
A source familiar with the family and the lawsuit told our correspondent “Lawan lied shamelessly,” adding that he is using his influence in the Kano judiciary to delay the course of justice because no lawyer is as close to the estate as he is.
According to that source, Lawan’s position that “neither the lawyer nor the judge objected to my appearance for the administrator” has also been dismissed by knowledgeable attorneys who maintain that it “does not justify or make his abuse of privilege right.”
Contrary to Lawan’s response, SaharaReporters found out that he functioned as the attorney to the committee he referenced as responsible for the nomination of Umar Tela as administrator to the estate.
Lawan further stated that the ongoing lawsuit between one of the heirs and Tela, whom he now represents, was triggered by Tela as a means of reflecting transparency. On the contrary, SaharaReporters found out that the case was actually filed after most of the heirs found evidence of fraud when the administrator attempted to hand over what he claimed to be the estate to the heirs, especially when the administrator and his friend, Mamman, had no answer to the queries by the heirs.
Lawyers who spoke to SaharaReporters insisted that Lawan’s professional misconduct is indefensible here. According to one of them, contacted by SaharaReporters to analyse the documents, “You cannot defend a deceased, have your signatures in several of his power of attorneys and documents, represent the heirs when they were minors, as documents show and you are now in bed with the administrator who is arm-twisting the heirs who were your legitimate clients.”
Contrary to Lawan’s claim that he was never the lawyer to the heirs, SaharaReporters can authoritatively report that it was Lawan, not a committee, who approached the court to appoint and authorize Tela’s appointment as administrator and guardian to the minors. The parties in court were the bereaved father of Musa, the estate owner, while the surviving widows were represented by their respective fathers, and the heirs to the estate by Lawan.
Further giving the lie to Lawan’s claim, Corporate Affairs Commission documents on Quartz Solar Energy Limited available to SaharaReporters records Lawan as Company Secretary. Quartz is one of the top business platforms owned by the Musa estate. The embattled estate administrator is positioned as Managing Director of the company while some of the heirs are listed as directors in the company.
The family, when contacted, refused to comment on the matter, but another source familiar with the ongoing feud said the heirs prefer to take the evidence they have before the court rather than the press.