On 28th August, 2019 the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission published photographs of three lawyers with the caption Alleged N20million Fraud: EFCC Arrests Three Lawyers. One of the lawyers, Mr. Sulyman Abaya ACIArb. (UK); FCAI has in a press statement issued on Sunday, 1st September, 2019 lamented the deep pain and hardship the action of the EFCC has occasioned to him. He also narrated his own side of the story.
I have read and seen with deep pain my picture posted online on 28/8/2019 and also published in other local, national and international news media by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ilorin Zonal Office through its Head of Media and Publicity, Mr. Wilson Uwajaren in connection with spurious allegations of Conspiracy, Forgery and Obtaining Money by False Pretence along two other legal practitioners to wit: R.O. Salman, Esq. and Hammed Saka, Esq.
Since the two other colleagues are still being interrogated by officers of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), I shall confine my reactions to the allegations as they affect my person in order to clear the air and correct the negative impression created by the action of the EFCC; and it is in this regard that I state as follows:
- Sometimes in 2013, I was approached and briefed by a colleague, Mr. R.O. Salman, Esq. to take over the defence of a civil case in Suit No.: KWS/112/2010 filed by Alhaji Abdullahi Muhydeen Olojuku through his lawyer, Dr. D. A. Ariyoosu, Esq. against Engr. Tunji Adedoyin challenging him for the unlawful occupation of his land. The case was before Hon. Justice Haleemat Saleeman of High Court of Kwara State.
- Sequel to the brief of R. O. Salman, Esq whom I verily believed had the brief of Engr. Adedoyin, I made some appearances in the case in the best interest of the Defendant (Engr. Adedoyin) and after a while, I was informed that parties had agreed to settle the matter out of court.
- Based on this information, I withdrew from the case and handed over the case file back to R. O. Salman, Esq. In fact, I did not partake in the settlement proceeding and I knew nothing about how the case was eventually settled.
- Surprisingly, on 27/8/2019 and without prior invitation, I was arrested by the officers of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Ilorin Zonal Office at the High Court premises, Ilorin and subsequently detained till the following day in their office.
- While at the EFCC custody, I clearly stated my story in connection with the case as narrated above but despite my explanations and notwithstanding that I was not confronted with any document I allegedly forged, or any allegation that I collected any amount of money from anybody or received any amount of money on behalf of anybody in connection with the case, the officers of EFCC threatened and forced me against my will to carry placard and took my photograph which they later uploaded on the internet.
- The whole world has undoubtedly seen me carrying a placard. Please retake a deep look at that picture and you will see that it was hesitantly carried with one hand. For more than one hour, I resisted and protested the carrying of the placard but EFCC called on two of her mobile policemen who pointed gun at me and coerced me to carry it. As soon as the picture was taken, EFCC released me together with my car.
- I want to state categorically and contrary to the EFCC allegations that I did not conspire with anybody, impersonate anybody and or forge any document in order to defraud the said Pastor Adedoyin of his property at any point in my life. This fact can be confirmed from Mr. Victor Okoji, Esq who is said to be Engr. Adedoyin’s lawyer.
- In all my life journey antedating my romance with legal practice which has run to twenty-five years now, I had always sought for myself contentment, integrity, uprightness, good name and fidelity to the tenets of my religion (Islam) and for those who know my personality traits, I had never craved for illegitimate wealth or unearned income. I have never been involved in any financial scam that may tarnish my highly cherished family name. I believe that all these virtues contributed to my victory when I contested for the office of Secretary of the Nigerian Bar Association, Ilorin branch in 2011 general election.
- However, just on Friday 30/08/2019, EFCC officers and operatives involved in this dehumanization have started apologizing to me for disparaging my personality but I insisted and I still insist that they must apologize publicly.
- I am convinced that since my release, the picture of my innocence has become clearer to the EFCC but the damage done me and my reputation by the actions of the overzealous officers of EFCC are incalculable, immeasurable and ought to be adequately redressed.
- Finally, I want to sincerely appreciate my family members, friends, professional colleagues, Senior Advocates of Nigeria, clients and other well wishers all over the world who have called me to express worries and concerns. I want to assure everyone that after full consultations with all stakeholders and my team of lawyers, we shall sue the EFCC for their despicable, unprofessional and dastard act.
1st September, 2019.
Mr. Sulyman Abaya ACIArb. (UK); FCAI