The Gerry Ikputu and Partners have denied reports linking them to the sales of some federal government recovered assets.
Naija News understands that the firm had been initially employed through the office of the Attorney-General of the Federation (AGF) and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, to recover some major assets on behalf of the Nigerian government.
AGF Malami was said to have earlier awarded the multiple-billion naira assets recovery contract to Ikputu and Partners, after which the firm engaged a law firm, M. E. Sheriff & Co, as its agent to achieve its target.
The firm was meant to recover certain enormous expanses of land and buildings located in 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, said to be belonging to the federal government.
From the initial agreement, Naija News learnt that Gerry Ikputu and Partners will be entitled to three (3) per cent of the worth of every successful recovery.
In the contract letter, Malami reportedly had stated a secrecy clause that bars them from making the details of the work public.
However, the news broke last Friday that the nation’s anti-graft agency arrested head of the Asset Recovery Management Unit (ARMU) of the Federal Ministry of Justice, Ladidi Mohammed.
ARMU was expected to work with the firms in recovering the properties. Mrs Mohammed’s interrogation by the EFCC, according to reports, was based on the alleged sale of the recovered assets by Gerry Ikputu and Partners and M.E Sherriff & Co.
My Company Has No Dealing With ARMU – Sheriff
Reacting to accusations against his firm, the principal partner of M.E Sherriff and Co, Mohammed Sheriff, said the recovered assets had not been disposed of as claimed in the reports.
Mr Sherriff on Sunday also stated categorically that his company had no dealings with the ARMU.
He explained further that his firm was yet to be paid for its services since none of the recovered assets has been sold.
According to him, one of the affected properties located in Osborne Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, was unlawfully occupied by a company after the expiration of its lease agreement.
He explained that based on Mr Malami’s instruction, his firm (M. E Sherriff & Co) successfully secured an order of final forfeiture of the affected properties.
The forfeiture order was granted by Inyang Ekwo, a judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, according to Mr Shefiff.
According to Premium Times, Sheriff said: “We did not even know that there is an Asset Recovery Management Unit. Our involvement was in relation to the tracing and recovery of abandoned federal government properties that were being occupied illegally, based on the presentation by some people, who approached our firm.”
He added that based on the AGF’s introduction, his firm went before the Federal High Court in Abuja, to get an interim order of forfeiture and later got a final fortune order on some of the properties, which were yet to be sold.
The lawyer said: “On the 8th day of October 2021, the Federal Government of Nigeria granted the request of the firm of Jerry Ikputu & Partners to trace, recover and submit the abandoned Federal Government properties in eleven states of the federation.
“Further to the above, on the 16th November 2021 Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo of the Federal High Court of Abuja granted the reliefs of M.E Sheriff of M.E Sheriff & Co and forfeited temporarily assets to the Federal Government of Nigeria all assets as listed on the instruction letter referred above.
“The Honourable Justice I.E Ekwo also ordered the federal government to make a publication of the said temporary forfeiture inviting all persons /bodies to, within 14 days of the order, show cause why order of final forfeiture should not be made forfeiting the properties to the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“The federal government, by way of complying with the court’s order, made a publication in the Punch newspaper of the 18th day of November 2021, specifically at page 34.
“The court, after giving members of the public opportunity to express interest in any of the federal government and the fact that no individual laid any claim, granted a final forfeiture in favour of the Federal Government of Nigeria on the 31st January 2022.
“Anybody claiming any sale arising from the recovered assets is by this publication invited to present a petition to the office of Honourable Attorney General of the Federation (HAGF) or Economic Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC),” Mr Sheriff said.