We are Solicitors to Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, the Governor of Kaduna State and the Applicant in the above mentioned matter [hereinafter called “Our Client”] and on his instruction and behalf we thus write to offer a clarification to the false and abjectly misleading reportage of the judgment of the Hon. Justice Binta Murtala Nyako of the Federal High Court, Abuja delivered on 29th November 2019.
What the court did was to reaffirm its earlier declaratory ruling to the effect that no money was missing from the N32bn proceeds of the sales of government houses Malam Nasir El-Rufai conducted in his capacity as Minister of the FCT during the Obasanjo years. The court also held that the proceeds of the sales of the government houses were properly accounted for and audited. He joined in the action the audit firm, the Central Bank and many other agencies, public and private.
Malam Nasir El-Rufai instituted the case in 2009, at a time that an intensely politicised EFCC had allowed itself to be suborned into smearing people. The EFCC sustained a media campaign that N32bn was missing, compelling Malam El-Rufai to approach the court for a declaratory judgment which has since been given in his favour. That is why the learned judge reaffirmed that her ruling on the declaratory orders in favour of Malam Nasir El-Rufai subsist.
As FCT minister, Malam El-Rufai allocated plots in Abuja to more than 27,000 Nigerians and presided over a transparent process that sold government houses and earned the FG a whopping N32bn. No decent man would permit slurs on such a stellar record. Therefore, Malam Nasir El-Rufai approached the court and the court agreed with him that there is no missing N32bn proceeds of sale of government houses.
At no point did Malam Nasir El-Rufai seek to stop the EFCC from performing its statutory functions. He went to court in 2009 to defend his reputation against an EFCC that was leaking and smearing, not investigating. The issues formulated for determination and the reliefs he sought in the action speak for themselves. He asked the court to determine:
- Whether the Applicant, as the then FCT Minister/Chairman, Federal Capital Development Authority, complied with the guidelines approved by the Federal Executive Council (FEC) for the sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT (SOGH) between May 2005 and May 2007.
- Whether the proceeds of the Sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT between May 2005-May 2007 were properly accounted for or not in accordance with the Federal Executive Council mandate and guidelines to the Federal Capital Territory Administration (FCTA).
- Whether the sum of N32 Billion (or any sum whatsoever) is missing from the proceeds of the Sale of Federal Government Houses in the FCT between May 2005 and May 2007.
After formulating the issues for determination, Malam Nasir El-Rufai sought the following specific reliefs from the court:
- A Declaration that the Sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT was conducted in accordance with the Federal Executive Council mandate to the FCTA through the Ad-hoc Committee for the sale of non essential houses in Abuja;
- A declaration that the proceeds of the Sale of the said Federal Government houses conducted by the Ad-hoc Committee on SOGH in Abuja between 2005 and 2007 were properly accounted for in accordance with the mandate and guidelines approved by the FEC;
- A Declaration that the Audit Report prepared by the 12th and 13th Respondents on the Sale of Federal Government Houses in the FCT confirm that the Sale of Federal Government houses in FCT complied with the approved Guidelines for the Sale of Federal Government properties in FCT and the proceeds were properly accounted for.
- A Declaration that the proceeds of Sale of Federal Government Houses in FCT between May 2005 and May 2007 were properly apportioned and accounted for in accordance with the approved Guidelines as confirmed by the Audit Report of the 12th and 13th Respondents, dated 20th July 2007.
- AN ORDER of this Honourable Court directing the 3rd Respondent to disclose the exact amount of money remitted to the 5th Respondent as the proceeds of the sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT between May 2005 and May 2007.
- AN ORDER of this Honourable Court directing the 5th Respondent to disclose the exact amount received from the 3rd Respondent as the proceeds of the sale of Federal Government houses in the FCT between May 2005 and May 2007.
- A Declaration that the sum of N32 Billion (or any sum whatsoever) from the proceeds of the Sale of Federal Government of Nigeria Houses in FCT between May 2005 and 2007 is not missing.
The above quoted were the issues formulated by our Client which he wanted the Court to determine as well as the reliefs he sought from the Court. A look at it will certainly reveal, to any unbiased and unprejudiced mind, that the action was not to prevent the EFCC from performing its functions. This much the Hon. Justice Nyako said in her Judgment of yesterday.
With due apologies to the professional and conscientious journalists, it is a matter for regret that some reporters will choose to twist the judge’s statement, made orbiter, that the EFCC could not be prevented from performing its functions, thus making it look as if this suit was about stopping or restraining the EFCC from the performance of its statutory duties.
It is essential to reiterate that this matter was instituted in the year 2009 via Originating Summons. The misleading reportage of Justice Nyako’s ruling might lead some to assume that Malam Nasir El-Rufai has instituted a recent suit seeking to bar the EFCC from investigating or prosecuting him. Nothing could be farther from the truth. What has happened is that Malam El-Rufai got justice from the court and protected his reputation against those peddling injurious and malicious falsehood.
The fact remains that the Court granted all the reliefs sought by our Client, and we are satisfied with that.
AU Mustapha, SAN
Counsel to Malam Nasir El-Rufai
30 November 2019