Femi Falana, lawyer and human rights activist, says he never bought a property in Maitama District, Abuja, from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
The property, said to have been recovered by the presidential task force on pension reform, was linked to Abdulrasheed Maina, a former pension boss whose recall into the civil service is being probed.
In a statement on Saturday, Falana referred to a media report which quoted Abubakar Malami, attorney-general of the federation (AGF) and minister of justice, as saying the said property worth N1 billion was allocated to “a Lagos lawyer”.
Malami was said to have made the comment when he appeared before the senate committee probing Maina’s recall into service after he was declared wanted over alleged fraud.
“Hence, I have decided to join issues with Malami over his false claim that the EFCC had sold the property in question to me,” he said, adding that “contrary to Malami’s claim I never bought any property from the EFCC”.
The senior advocate of Nigeria said the house in question was one of the assets used to collaterise a loan obtained from Bank PHB by A Group Properties “over 10 years ago”.
Falana said: “He (Malami) 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. (See Suit No /2015 between Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria v A Group Properties Limited).
“The suit was instituted by AMCON due to the failure of the company to liquidate the loan. In granting the ex parte application filed by AMCON in the matter the court ordered an interim forfeiture of the assets of A Group Properties Limited including No 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja. 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 settlement. To that extent, the transaction on the property remains inchoate.”
Falana added that although the said order of interim forfeiture was granted in favour of AMCON over two years ago, “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 Reforn”.
He said: “Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case, Maina’s allegation that the management of the EFCC sold the property at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja or any property to me is a figment of his fecund imagination for mischief.”
The lawyer also challenged Malamai to substantiate his allegation that the EFCC had allocated or sold the property in question or any other property to him.
“Instead of engaging in a cheap campaign of blackmail Malami should have taken steps to recover the alleged N1 billion property for the federal government if he is convinced that it is a proceed of crime,” he said.