By Mujidat Oyewole
Ilorin – The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), has denied issuing any apology to an Ilorin-based legal practitioner, Sulyman Abaya, being investigated for alleged N20 million property fraud.
This was contained in a statement, signed by Mr Wilson Uwujaren, Head of media and publicity of the Commission and made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Ilorin on Tuesday.
Uwajaren said Abaya remained a suspect in the commission’s watch list until proven otherwise by a court of competent jurisdiction.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Abaya was arrested along with two other lawyers, Salman Rafiu and Saka Hammed, for alleged illegal acquisition and sale of a property belonging to Mr Adetunji Adedoyin, valued at about N20 million.
Adedoyin had petitioned the EFCC through his lawyer.
In his petition, he alleged that the suspects fraudulently obtained a court judgement with which they claimed and sold his property without his knowledge and consent.
“In getting the judgement, the suspects ensured that their victim, the petitioner did not get summons.
“Instead, they went ahead and provided defence lawyers for him, with whom he never had any discussion.”
According to the petitioner, “I was informed that I was served summons all through the court proceedings, whereas it was R.A. Salman who put up his colleagues: Abaya Sulyman and Saka Hammed to stand for me.
“These lawyers forged my signature on some documents, purporting my consent in court to the sale of my hostel.”
Adedoyin further stated that, “the truth of the matter is that I never set my eyes on these people (lawyers) prior to or during the court proceedings, neither did I participate directly or indirectly in the proceedings.
“I also was not aware of the proceedings from the beginning to the end.”
Abaya was arrested on Aug. 28, 2019 and released on bail after volunteering statement to the commission.
In a twist, Abaya on Sept. 2, addressed a press conference in Ilorin, claiming he was innocent of the allegations against him.
He said that operatives of the Commission, having realized their mistakes, apologized to him.
Abaya had said that he was also profiled at gun-point by operatives of the commission.
But Uwujaren said that all actions purportedly taken by Abaya were packaged to elicit public sympathy and portray the Commission as inefficient, reckless and draconian.
He said that there was no reason for anyone to apologize to Abaya who remained a suspect under investigation.
“Apparently, Abaya has mistaken or deliberately wants to construe the administrative bail offered him by the Commission as exoneration of criminal complicity in the alleged fraud
“The facts of the case suggest otherwise. He was merely offered bail to preserve his rights pending the conclusion of investigation.
“Without prejudice to the facts of the case, it is puzzling that a lawyer of Abaya’s standing would take a brief from third parties on behalf of a client who is not incapacitated and lives in the same city with him,” Uwujaren said.
Uwajaren said that it was not the practice of EFCC to force suspects to be profiled.
“Taking mug shot of suspects of crime is standard procedure in criminal investigation and it is surprising to know why Abaya want to be treated differently,” he said.