Justice Safari Writes Lagos CJ on the Allegation of Diversion of N47m Against Him

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Earlier in the week we published a rejoinder by a source who wishes to be anonymous on the allegation of diversion of 47 Million judgment sum placed in Honourable Justice G.A Safari’s  care when he was Chief Registrar of the Lagos State High Court. Read here

Justice Safari himself has now responded to the said allegation in a letter addressed to the Lagos State Chief Judge, Honourable Justice A. O Atilade.

Read the response below:

“My Lady, the Hon. Chief Judge, following the recent publication of allegation of stealing the sum of N47 Million from the account of the Lagos State judiciary by me during my tenure as Chief Registrar of the High Court of Lagos State by an online media organisation, I wish to state that the story is not only false but a deliberate act to tarnish my name and that of the Lagos State Judiciary as an institution.

My account of what actually transpired is as follows:

I became the Chief Registrar of the High Court of Lagos State in September, 2010 and one of the cases I met on ground was the issue of the proceeds of sale of the immovable property of the *African International Bank (AIB)* on the order of the court to satisfy judgment debts of it’s various creditors.

Around August 2011, the firm of *Duro Ajayi and Co.* acting for one of the judgment creditors of AIB brought a letter requesting for payment of the sum of N17m from the proceeds of sale of AIB Plaza, Victoria Island.

Upon perusal of the letter, I observed that the judgment was for the sum of N277m and interest at the rate of 21% per annum till the date of judgment and thereafter at the rate of 6% per annum until the judgment sum is paid.

I confirmed from the then Deputy Sheriff, Lagos Division, Mr Braimoh who told me that the balance of the money as at then was N321million and was in the Deputy Sheriff/Chief Registrar’s Account with Skye Bank. He told me the AIB plaza was sold for about N630million and that some creditors have been paid from the account.

In exercising due diligence , I forwarded the counsel’s letter of request to the Account Section for the calculation of the amount payable and I was advised that the money payable including interests was N4 Million plus.

I wrote to the judgment creditor’s lawyer about the calculation by our Account Section but he rejected the calculation insisting that his client is entitled to N17 Million plus. At this stage there was a stalemate and the lawyer left in anger and the issue was rested.

In 2012, the firm of Jackson, Etti and Edu acting for Ecobank wrote to me to inform me that Ecobank has bought the assets and liabilities of AIB and requested for the balance of the proceeds of sale of AIB plaza.

Since there was no more creditors to be paid from the proceeds, I instructed Skye Bank to transfer the balance of N321 Million to Ecobank in accordance with the provision of the law that any surplus from the sale of a judgment debtor’s property be paid to the judgment debtor after paying the judgment debt.

The judgment debtor that refused to collect N4 Million in 2011 later showed up through another lawyer *Adetunji Orisalade and Co.* claiming that their judgment debt has risen to 47 Million and even sought my assistance to persuade the then Chief Registrar, Mr. Ogundare Now Hon Justice Ogundare to pay him N47 Million, a request I turned down for the reason that his client is only entitled to N4 Million and in any event the money is no longer in the account of the Deputy Sheriff/Chief Registrar, Lagos state judiciary.

My Lady, the foregoing represent the correct position of things in respect of the allegation. No money is missing OR stolen.
Ecobank has confirmed in writing that the money i.e. N321 Million is with them.

The lawyer should be advised to approach Ecobank to collect his client’s judgment debt or go back to the court to seek interpretation of its judgment with respect to the interests payable.

Thank you My Lady”,

Hon. Justice Gani Ali Safari”

Source Lateef Abdulsalam

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