Human rights lawyer and Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Femi Falana, has said he never bought any N6 billion property recovered by the defunct Pension Reform Task Force under Abdulrasheed Maina in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, as being peddled by some cronies of the government.
Falana explained on Friday that the property, located at 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja, was rather used as a collateral by the owner for a loan from Bank PHB in 2008.
The SAN added that when the owner of the property defaulted in the payment of the loan, it was taken over by the Asset Management of Nigeria via an order of interim forfeiture and his law firm attempted to buy it but later withdrew.
Falana in a release he signed said he challenged the government to provide proofs that he bought the property for N1 billion as being peddled.
He said, “Sometime in April 2017, an online medium, sponsored by the Federal Government, claimed falsely that the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission 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 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.
“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 N6,0000,000 but sold to me for N1,000,000 sometime in 2015.
“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 a collateral by the owner, A. Group Properties Limited for 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 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. 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.
“In the light of the foregoing, I challenge 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.”