Sunday, 26 November 2017

I Bought Abuja Property from A Group Properties, Not EFCC - Falana


Human rights activist and lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana, SAN saturday said the property he bought in Maitama District, Abuja, was from A Group Properties and not from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission as alleged.

He said the property located at 42, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja, was one of the assets used to collaterise a loan obtained from Bank PHB by A Group Properties over 10 years ago.

The Senior Advocate also disclosed that the property in question is a subject matter of a suit which is currently pending before the Federal High Court sitting at Abuja. (Suit No /2015 between Assets Management Corporation of Nigeria v A Group Properties Limited).
In a statement he issued yesterday, titled ‘Sale of Property to Femi Falana is Another Lie from AGF’, which was sent to THISDAY, Falana also challenged the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice to substantiate his claim that the property was allocated or sold to him (Falana) by the EFCC as alleged in media reports.

The aforementioned property, said to have been recovered by the Presidential Task Force on Pension Reform, was linked to the task-force’s former chairman, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina, who was sacked by President Muhammadu Buhari after his controversial recall into the civil service; an issue which is currently being probed by government agencies.
Falana’s statement referred to a media report in a national daily (not THISDAY) which quoted the Attorney-General of the Federation as saying the said property worth N1 billion was sold to “a Lagos lawyer”. The AGF 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.

Falana, in his response to the allegation, described Maina’s claim concerning the alleged sale of the property to him by the EFCC as a figment of the former pension boss’s imagination, and also challenged the AGF to substantiate the allegation.
Falana’s press statement reads, “When the news of the scandalous recall, reinstatement, promotion, deployment and payment of the arrears of salaries and allowances of a fugitive from the law, Mr. Abdulrasheed Maina broke out last month I joined other well-meaning Nigerians in calling on President Mohammadu Buhari to sanction the members of his administration who had exposed the nation to ridicule.

“Shortly thereafter, 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.

“According to The Nation newspaper of November 24, 2017, Mr. Maina’s official new legal adviser and Attorney-General of the Federation, Mr. Abubakar Malami SAN “mentioned a property at 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja which he claimed is worth N1 billion. He said it was allocated to a Lagos lawyer.”

“Even though Mr. Malami did not mention my name The Nation newspaper had reported that Mr. Maina had linked me with the property. Hence, 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 Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (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 collaterise a loan obtained from Bank PHB by A Group Properties over 10 years ago”, Falana stated.
According to his statement “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. (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. 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”, the statement noted.

“Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case, Mr. Maina’s allegation that the management of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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.

“Since the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Malami SAN has apparently swallowed hook, line and sinker, the cock and bull story of Mr. Maina, a fugitive from the law of the Republic, I am compelled to challenge him to substantiate his mendacious allegation that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission had allocated or sold the property in question or any other property to me.

“Instead of engaging in a cheap campaign of blackmail Mr. Malami SAN 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.

“However, since the order of the interim forfeiture of the property at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja which was granted by the Federal High Court has not been vacated or quashed the property is still vested in AMCON. Incidentally, the granting of the order was well reported by the Nigerian press at the material time”, Falana added.

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