The law firm of the fiery lawyer and human rights activist, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, has described his arrest by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as persecution.
The firm linked the arrest to his brief from Chief Government Ekpemupolo (Tompolo) and Mr. Azibaola Robert, cousin of the former President, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan.
In a statement signed and released by Adegboruwa and company, Kogun Chambers, the firm said Adegboruwa has no fraud case to answer, rather was also being ‘persecuted’ for his hard stance against the President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration.
According to the firm, “the truth is that the five-bedroom duplex in Nicon Town Estate, Lekki, which the EFCC said was a forfeited property, was owned by one Mr. Jonathan Udeagbala.
The statement read: “The above transaction took place ever before the Buhari administration. Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa has been receiving unofficial complaints from the EFCC about his opposition to the Buhari administration and has never been daunted with the threat.
“But the threats became more rampant upon his brief in the case of Tompolo and especially Mr. Azibaola Robert, cousin of former President Jonathan.
“On May 4, 2016, our firm appeared in Tompolo’s case at the Federal High Court, Lagos and May 4, 2016, our firm filed a suit in court, for the release of Jonathan’s cousin.
“On May 5, 2016, EFCC filed a case against Adegboruwa. So, there is no fraud case against Adegboruwa. He is being persecuted for speaking against the Buhari regime.
“There is no way a criminal case can be maintained against Adegboruwa as the criminal case upon which the case is based has been dismissed.
“Adegboruwa did not collect money for any property but acted as a mediator for settlement and he acted upon the lawful instructions of his client.”
Explaining the facts of the transaction they said: “In or around May 2013, our law firm was approached by one Mrs. Sylvia Udeagbala, to represent her husband in a criminal case. In our first appearance in court, it transpired that the complainant in the case, Chief Leonard Okafor and the defendant, Mr. Jonathan Udeagbala, were from the same town.
“It was thus decided to settle the case amicably out of court, and the court and the prosecutor were so informed. He had a business agreement with Okafor, for telecommunications.
“The business didn’t go as planned, so Okafor demanded a refund of his investments, which caused Mr. Udeagbala to issue several cheques, which were alleged to have bounced, hence a criminal charge was filed against him in court, in Charge No. LCD/129/2012.
“Upon the intervention of our law firm, several peace meetings were held with the complainant in the case, Okafor, and it was agreed that Udeagbala’s house in Nicon Town should be sold or leased to offset the money outstanding in favour of Okafor.
“Mrs. Udeagbala then secured a tenant, Shelf Drilling Co Ltd, for a five-year lease of about N11million per annum.
“This was disclosed to Okafor and it was agreed by the parties that the proceed of the lease be used to offset part of the money being claimed by Okafor, as follows: Okafor – N35million; Mr. Udeagbala – N12million; Renovation of the house by the contractor chosen by the tenant – N8million; Fee paid to the agent – N2.5million and Legal fee paid to our office – N2.5million.
“The above sums were by agreement of all the parties duly disbursed, with documentary evidence of collection. When EFCC got to know that the said property had been let out to Shelf Drilling for five years at the rate of N10million per annum, they told Shelf Drilling that the earlier money paid had been forfeited.
“EFCC then asked Shelf Drilling to pay N12million per annum. A sum of N24million has so far been collected by the EFCC. In fact, we are informed that as at yesterday, May 10, 2016, the EFCC served the tenant another invoice for rent for 2016.
“Part of the terms of settlement was that Chief Okafor will withdraw his petition and criminal complaint to the EFCC which he did through a letter of withdrawal written by his lawyers Atuegwu Egwuatu and Associates dated August 19, 2013, and which was received by the EFCC on September 17, 2013.
“Consequent upon the withdrawal, the criminal charge was dismissed by the High Court on December 17, 2015, in a well considered ruling delivered by Justice D.O. Oluwayemi and the EFCC is aware of this.
“At all material times, our law firm was not aware of any interim order of attachment obtained by the EFCC on the property.
“With the ruling of Justice D.O. Oluwayemi which has dismissed the main criminal charge, there can be no subsisting order of attachment as something cannot be placed on nothing and be expected to stand.”
Meanwhile, the EFCC will today charge Adegboruwa at the Federal High Court, Ikoyi, for fraud and leasing out of the said forfeited property.