Human rights lawyer, Femi Falana, has again denied buying property from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Mr Falana’s earlier denial came on the heels of the claim by the Abubakar Malami, Attorney-General of the Federation, in 2017 that “a Lagos lawyer” bought one of the assets recovered from pension thieves and handed to the EFCC.
The senior advocate’s fresh rebuttal on Friday followed Thursday’s testimony of Ngozika Ihuoma a defence witness called to testify by the chairman of the defunct Pension Reform Task Team (PRTT), Abdulrasheed Maina, who is being prosecuted on money laundering charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
Mr Ihuoma alleged on Thursday that “a renowned lawyer” bought the property located at 42, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja from the EFCC at an undervalued price of N1billion instead of its actual worth of N6billion.
He also said the lawyer bought the property despite being a subject of litigation at the time.
“One of the properties in question located at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama, had been illegally acquired by a renowned lawyer while the property was still subject to litigation,” he said.
‘Renewed version of lie’
Reacting to the development, Mr Falana, in a statement, titled, ‘I have never bought any property from EFCC’ said the claim was a renewed version of a lie allegedly sponsored by the Federal Government in 2017.
He said, “sometime in April, 2017 an online medium, sponsored by the Federal Government, claimed falsely that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had handed over a property confiscated from a former governor of Bayelsa State, the late Chief D.S.P Alamieyesigha to me.
“The malicious publication was dismissed when it was revealed that all confiscated properties from the ex-governor had been handed over to the Bayelsa State Government by the EFCC.
“In November 2017, the Attorney-General of the Federation & Minister of Justice, Mr Abubakar Malami SAN alleged that the EFCC had sold one of the houses recovered by Mr. Abdurasheed Maina of the Pension Task Force to a Lagos lawyer.
“Even though Mr Malami SAN did not mention my name I challenged him to provide details of the property. But the challenge was not taken up.
“When the stories of the illegal acquisition of properties did not fly the Federal Government alleged before the Ayo Salami Judicial Commission of Enquiry that the suspended Chairman of the EFCC, Mr Ibrahim Magu had transferred N28.5 million to the (bank) account of my law firm.
“A newspaper that linked me with the false story retracted the story and apologised when I threatened to sue for libel. The Panel did not invite me to give evidence as the story was found to be a LIE.”
He said “the renewed version of the lie” was “to the effect that the same property” at 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja, allegedly recovered by the PRTT was sold to him in 2015 for N1 billion instead of its actual worth of N6 billion.”
‘Property not recovered by PRTT’
But Mr Falana said “I wish to say, without any fear of contradiction, that the property in question was never recovered by the Presidential Pension Task Force.”
He explained that it was rather used by the owner A. Group Properties as collateral for a loan deal with Bank PHB in 2008.
According to him, AMCON took over the property when A. Group Properties could not pay the bank loan.
He said the owner, in a bid to liquidate the loan, offered to sell the property to his law firm at N250 million.
He added, “But we withdrew from the transaction due to the delay in resolving the case.
“Up till now, the case is still pending at the Federal High Court. A copy of the order of interim forfeiture of the property granted in favour of AMCON is hereby attached.
“In the light of the foregoing, I challenged the Federal Government to proceed to forfeit the alleged N1 billion purportedly paid by me and recover the property if it established that it was recovered by the Pension Task Force.”
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