Fayose versus Falana: Reigniting old enmity with fresh issue

Ekiti-born human rights lawyer, Mr. Femi Falana (SAN) is accustomed to being at loggerheads with the governor of his home state, Mr. Ayodele Fayose, a paranoia that dates back to the governor’s beefy first term of administration, which ended abruptly in 2006. Then, Falana had played prominent roles to inflame the fire of impeachment that consumed the Fayose reign in Ekiti.
Now, the two diametrically opposed public figures have again had cause to take each other to the cleaners, this time with the heat on the Lagos lawyer, Falana. Their squabble is predicated on an accusation from both Abdulrasheed Maina, the shadowy and wanted former chairman of the Presidential Task Force on Pensions Reform, and Abubakar Malami (SAN), the Attorney General and Minister of Justice.
Maina and Malami had accused Falana of purchasing a N1 billion property, located at 43, Gana Street, Maitama, Abuja, being one of the properties Maina claimed to have helped government to seize from pension thieves and handed over to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission.
Although Falana had stridently denied the allegation, the Fayose camp in Ekiti was upbeat, as the governor sneered at the lawyer’s claim to moral piety in his voyage as a human rights activist.
Fayose said it was embarrassing, that a man of Falana’s stature, reputed to be a human rights activist and anti-corruption crusader, could be linked to such scandal.
He addressed a press conference in Ado Ekiti, the state capital, saying, “It has become necessary to add my voice to the new scandal where you find our supposed men of honour, defenders of democracy, crusaders of justice, people who want corruption stamped out of our land, allegedly linked to unfortunate purchases of alleged stolen property.
“The disclosure by the Minister of Justice and Attorney-General of the Federation, that a Lagos-based lawyer was one of many highly placed Nigerians, who allegedly were compensated by the EFCC and Ibrahim Magu with properties retrieved from corrupt government officials was initially taken with a pinch of salt.”
Reacting to the allegation of illegal purchase of the Abuja house, however, Falana had said, “Having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case, Mr. Maina’s allegation that the management of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission sold the property at No 42, Gana Street, Maitama District, Abuja or any property to me is a figment of his fecund imagination for mischief.
“Since the Attorney General of the Federation, Mr. Malami SAN has apparently swallowed hook, line and sinker, the cock and bull story of Mr. Maina, a fugitive from the law of the Republic, I am compelled to challenge him to substantiate his mendacious allegation that the EFCC had allocated or sold the property in question or any other property to me.’’
He said rather than engage in cheap blackmail, Malami should have taken steps to recover the alleged N1 billion property for the Federal Government if he was convinced that it was a proceed of crime.
As for his tango with Governor Fayose, the lawyer accused the Ekiti governor of deliberately antagonising him and setting him up for media trial.
According to Falana, his travails in the hands of the governor began after he asked the law enforcement agencies to investigate Fayose and his men “for the cold-blooded murder of two indigenes of Ekiti State.”
In his defence laced with counter-attacks against the governor, Falana said, “I stand by my earlier defence that I never bought the house from the EFCC and I challenge him (Fayose) and the Attorney General to show the evidence. I challenge the garrulous Governor of Ekiti State to prove the monstrous allegation that I bought a house from the EFCC.
“Since Mr. Ayo Fayose has not paid attention to the fact and circumstances of the case, I advise him to study my explanation that the house in question is a subject matter of a pending suit before the Federal High Court and that the house has been forfeited to AMCON in the
interim.
“The EFCC is not a party to the case. So, if Mr. Ayo Fayose wants to join the suit, he’s free, he is at liberty to approach the Federal High Court holding at Abuja to prove his allegation. But his is a case of Ajegbodo to nweni kun ’ra. (The one recklessly eating fresh yam will always want to co-opt others into the deal) .
“As of today, he has already forfeited six houses to the government of Nigeria. So, if he is sure that that this is proceed of crime, he should apply to have it forfeited. He should contact the Attorney General, Mr. Malami, to apply to have the house forfeited, if they are sure that the house is proceed of
crime.”
He also alleged that the governor had been looking for a way to attack him, “since I pressured the state to charge Mr. Fayose and his armed goons with the cold-blooded murder of Dr. Ayo Daramola and Tunde Omojola.”
The last may not have been heard on the often sporadic accusations and counter-accusations between Fayose and Falana, as they are now, two familiar enemies.