EXCLUSIVE: EFCC grills Malami’s aide over sale of forfeited assets

Ladidi Mohammed, head of asset recovery and management unit, ministry of justice, is being grilled by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) over allegations of fraud, TheCable can report. 

Mohammed, who is very close to Abubakar Malami, attorney-general and minister of justice, was initially detained for a number of days by the EFCC and grilled over allegations of fraudulent sale of recovered assets worth billions.

She was granted administrative bail with strident bail conditions which she could not meet until Thursday.
However, sources confirmed to TheCable that Mohammed was back at the commission on Friday for further questioning.

She reportedly told EFCC that she acted under ministerial instructions in disposing of some assets which were forfeited to the federal government by persons undergoing corruption trials.

But she was unable to produce any documented evidence to back her claims.

TheCable learnt she said the instructions were given to her verbally.

BACKGROUND

The anti-graft commission is investigating dubious transactions involving Nigerian assets that Mohammed is accused of selling off under suspicious circumstances.

Malami had reportedly secretly granted a company and its attorneys a multibillion-naira assets recovery contract.

The AFG gave the firm, Gerry Ikputu & Partners, an estate valuer, the task of recovering significant tracts of lands and structures believed to belong to the federal government in 10 states and the federal capital territory (FCT), Abuja. The firm also hired a legal firm, M. E. Sheriff & Co, to act as its agent.

With a confidentiality agreement prohibiting them from disclosing the specifics of the job, Malami’s letter granting them the contract said that they would be entitled to three percent of the value of each successful recovery.

The award letter’s “confidentiality” clause forbids contractors from making public “any issue from this engagement without prior consent of the attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice”.

The letter dated October 5, 2021 gave the contractors six months period to lapse in April 2022.

In the contract with M.E Sherrif & Co, Malami said the law firm had the duty of handing over the recovered assets to the AGF “for further necessary action and directives”.

He also asked the law firm “to work as a project team in collaboration with the Asset Recovery and Management Unit (ARMU) under the Office of the honourable attorney-general of the federation and minister of justice in carrying out this instruction”.

As many as 74 properties listed in the letter are located in high brow areas in Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Abia, Anambra, Edo, Enugu, Imo and Delta states and the FCT.

‘MINISTRY OF JUSTICE NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ASSET RECOVERY’

Stakeholders had criticised the AGF and the justice ministry for their role in the recovery and sale of assets.

Itse Sagay, chairman of the presidential advisory committee against corruption (PACAC), had said there was no justification for engaging private firms to execute the recovery the anti-graft agencies were competent to do.

“The EFCC and the ICPC are authorised to recover stolen public assets. So, there is absolutely no justification for hiring a third party to do what government agencies have powers and experience to do,” he said.

“So, it is strange for an outside agency, who does not have that record, and will have to be paid to recover the property. That shouldn’t be; it’s wrong. That doesn’t make sense.”

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