My attention has been drawn to a publication on Sahara Reporters webpage where I was alleged to have connived with one Umaru Tela “to convert some choice properties” for our benefit from an estate left by late Mohammed Musa. The publication alleged that I am “embroiled in a lawsuit that raises issues of corruption, abuse of privilege and professional misconduct”. In the main it is alleged that, as a lawyer, I had been appointed as administrator to manage the estate in trust for Mr. Musa’s heirs, who were minors at the time of their father’s demise but have now turned against them. The publication portrayed me as unfit for appointment as EFCC Board member having been nominated by President Muhammadu Buhari.
I wish to state that nobody contacted me to hear my own version of the story. For the record and in order to protect my image and reputation, I must publicly respond to the publication. The allegations are false, frivolous and vexatious, and a mischievous attempt to impugn my character. Contrary to what is contained therein, I hereby state as follows, and I challenge anybody with contrary and credible evidence to prove me wrong:
1. There is no such “lawsuit that raises issues of corruption, abuse of privilege and professional misconduct” or which accuses Umaru Tela and I of entering into a compromising relationship to convert some properties from the estate of late Mohammed Musa or any other property, and we have done nothing to warrant such lawsuit.
2. The only lawsuit pertaining to the estate is Case No. CV/459/16 (Aisha Mohammed Musa v. Alhaji Umar Tela) filed by one of the heirs at Upper Sharia Court Shahuchi, Kano. The plaintiff in the case wants to claim back her entitlement (along with her five sisters) in the possession of the administrator of the estate. There was no issue of connivance and/or conversion of property raised in the case.
3. I have never been an administrator of the estate of late Mohammed Musa. As acknowledged somewhere in the publication, Umaru Tela has been the administrator since the demise of Mr. Musa by virtue of a Letter of Administration dated 21 June 2004 issued by the Kano State High Court.
4. He became the administrator following a meeting by a committee (of 18 friends and relatives of the deceased) which unanimously resolved that he should manage the estate for the benefit of the 11 orphans.
5. The Shahuchi case was triggered by the insistence of the administrator, informed by his desire for transparency and expediency, to give detailed account of his stewardship to the now-grown-up and graduate heirs only before the same committee that resolved to make him administrator, an idea some of the heirs rejected.
6. None of the heirs received any documents from me as alleged in the publication. So the issue of discrepancies between properties offered them by the administrator and what was in documents they “received years ago” from me does not arise. I have always rendered legal services to the estate on the instructions of the administrator and I have no direct client-lawyer relationship with the heirs.
7. The administrator instructed me to represent him in the Shahuchi case and as usual, I accepted the brief, but as the case is still pending, we are not supposed to discuss it here or elsewhere. However, the following points can and must be made:
i. The case was filed by only one person among the heirs and it is against the administrator of the estate.
ii. Umaru Tela is still the administrator of the estate because his Letter of Administration is still valid.
iii. The plaintiff is represented by a lawyer in the case and neither the lawyer nor the court objected to my appearance for the administrator.
iv. We submitted a detailed report (in volumes) of the administrator’s stewardship over the estate to the court.
v. Some family members and friends sought to intervene to get the case withdrawn.
vi. I have consistently maintained, in the course of the proceedings and outside, that in the interest of justice and for record purposes, the case must be heard to conclusion by the court and whatever property or money found unaccounted for, the administrator shall be liable.
vii. The record of the proceedings of the court is available for whosoever cares to verify.
8. Finally, I maintain that I have acted honestly and in accordance with my professional calling, and therefore challenge any interested party who feels that I, either singlehandedly or in collusion with the administrator or any other person, have done something wrong to take appropriate legal action against me.
Prof. Mamman Lawan
Board Member, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC)
Secretary, Constitution and Electoral Reform Committee
Lecturer, Department of Law, Bayero University, Kano.
The reply is very satisfactory