Lagos lawyer and former President of the West Africa Bar Association (WABA), Mr. Femi Falana (SAN), yesterday dismissed what he described as repackaged allegation that he bought an Abuja property allegedly recovered by the Pension Reform Taskforce for N1 billion in 2015.
The fiery lawyer, who insisted the allegation was merely being renewed after past attempts could not be substantiated, said in a statement that he had never bought any property from the federal government including the controversial property in Maitama, Abuja.
In the statement made available to THISDAY, Falana said, “My attention has just been drawn to the renewed version of the lie to the effect that the same property lying and being at 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja, allegedly recovered by the Pension Reform Task Force was valued at N6,000,000,000.00 (Six Billion Naira) but sold to me for N1,000,000,000.00 (One Billion Naira) sometime in 2015.”
Explaining that the property was never recovered by the Pension taskforce, the senior advocate, who challenged the federal government to forfeit the alleged N1 billion purportedly paid by his law firm if it was discovered that he truly paid for the property stated: “I wish to say, without any fear of contradiction, that the property in question was never recovered by the Presidential Pension Task Force.
“It is on record that the property was used as collateral by the owner, A. Group Properties Limited a loan from Bank PHB in 2008. When the owner of the property defaulted in the payment of the loan it was taken over by the Asset Management of Nigeria (AMCON) via an order of interim forfeiture.
“However, in an attempt to liquidate the loan, the owner of the property wanted to sell it. My law firm agreed to buy the property for N250,000,000 (Two hundred and Fifty Million Naira). 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.”
Falana also recalled that damaging stories on him were sponsored in online and in traditional news medium, especially in April 2017. According to him, none of the allegations could be proved.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.”
He disclosed that “In November 2017, the Attorney-General of the Federation and 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 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.”