Lagos lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), has described as false reports that he bought, from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), a property seized from Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, the former boss of the Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT) .
In a statement issued on Saturday, the lawyer said Mr. Maina’s friends came up with the lie against him because of his intervention in the matter of the former PRTT boss.
Mr. Falana noted that he had joined other Nigerians in calling on President Muhammadu Buhari to sanction officials of his administration responsible for the recall, reinstatement, promotion, deployment, and payment of the arrears of salaries/allowances to Mr. Maina, who had been a fugitive from the law. He recalled that shortly after his intervention, the President ordered Mr. Maina's removal from the public service and directed that an inquiry be conducted into the matter.
“Aggrieved by my intervention in the shameful episode, the fugitive, and his cohorts have attempted, albeit unsuccessfully, to link me with the criminal diversion of one of the properties purportedly recovered by the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform,” said Mr. Falana.
He referred to 24 November edition of The Nation, which published a report quoting Mr. Abubakar Malami (SAN), Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, as having mentioned a property at 42, Gana Street, MaitamaDistrict, Abuja which he claimed is worth N1 billion, which he said was allocated to a Lagos lawyer.
While Mr. Malami did not mention the name of the Lagos lawyer, Mr. Falana noted that The Nation newspaper had reported that Mr. Maina had linked him with the property
“I have decided to join issues with Mr. Malami over his false claim that the EFCC had sold the property in question to me. Contrary to Mr. Malami's claim, I never bought any property from the EFCC. If Mr. Malami had conducted a search on the property in question, he would have found that it was one of the assets used to collateralize a loan obtained from Bank PHB by A Group Properties over 10 years ago. He would also have found that the property is a subject matter of a suit, which is currently pending before the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja between Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON) v A Group Properties Limited,” he said.
He explained that the suit was filed by AMCON because of the company’s failure to liquidate the loan. He equally explained that in granting an ex parte application filed by AMCON in the matter, the court ordered an interim forfeiture of the assets of A Group Properties Limited, including the property he was alleged to have bought.
“The said order was granted on November 11, 2015. However, in a bid to pay the loan, A Group Properties Limited decided to sell some of the properties. The sale of the property in question to me was made subject to the setting aside of the order of interim forfeiture which had been obtained by AMCON. Up till now, the case has not been concluded as the parties have asked for time to resolve the dispute amicably and file terms of the settlement. To that extent, the transaction on the property remains inchoate. Although the said order of interim forfeiture was granted in favour of AMCON over two years ago, Mr.Malami has not deemed it fit to disclose to the Federal High Court that the property at 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja was recovered by the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform,” stated Mr. Falana.
He described Mr. Malami’s claim as a figment of his rich imagination for mischief. The Lagos lawyer noted that Mr. Malami believed the lie Mr. Maina and retailed it afterwards. Mr. Falana called on the Attorney-General of the Federation, whom he described as Mr. Maina’s legal adviser, to substantiate his claim.
He also reasoned that Mr. Malami should have made moves to recover the property for the Federal Government if he is convinced that it is was acquired through crime.
Mr. Falana further stated that the order of the interim forfeiture of the property, which was well reported in the media at the time, has not been vacated or quashed and that the property is still vested in AMCON.