The Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, has secretly awarded a multi-billion-naira assets recovery contract to a company and its lawyers secretly.
The firm, Gerry Ikputu & Partners, an estate valuer, which further engaged a law firm, M. E. Sheriff & Co, as its agent, was instructed by Malami to recover identified large expanses of land and buildings said to be belonging to the federal government in 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Abuja, investigations by Premium Times showed.
The companies were said to be entitled to three (3) per cent of the worth of every successful recovery.
Malami’s letter awarding them the contract, stated with a secrecy clause that bars them from making the details of the work public.
The “confidentiality” clause contained in the award letter prohibits the contractors from publicising or publicly sharing “any issue from this engagement without prior consent of the Attorney-General of the Federation and Minister of Justice”.
Açcording to the report, the Asset Recovery Management Unit (ARMU) of the Federal Ministry of Justice, which is to work with the firms in executing the contract, said the “confidentiality” clause in the letter is a mere formality and does not connote “secrecy”.
Malami issued the award letter to M.E Sherriff &Co with an instruction to recover the assets and return them to the federal government within six months. With the letter dated October 5, 2021, the six months period is due to lapse in April 2022.
The contractors, under the contractual agreement which has an arbitral clause in case of any dispute arising, is expected to give a monthly report on the recovery efforts to the AGF.
Malami also asked them to work with ARMU under the federal ministry of justice.
The report also revealed the list of targeted and identified 74 properties which are scattered in 10 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja.
The properties are located in Lagos, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Cross River, Abia, Anambra, Edo, Enugu, Imo and Delta states and the FCT.
A total of 29 of them comprising a school, luxury apartments, and power stations, amongst others, are in upscale Lekki and other highbrow areas of Lagos.
Some of the properties in Lagos as listed in the letter include: NEPA Children School, Ikoyi, Off Glover Road by Milverton Avenue; one duplex property at No. 11 Alexander Avenue, Ikoyi; Approximately 1,700 Square metres with twin Duplex uncompleted in Victoria Gardens City (VGC) Estate; approximately 4,222 Square Metres on Admiralty Way, Lekki Phase 1, and Ware House at Wharf Road, Apapa.
In Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital, eight properties including empty lands and buildings were identified, while Cross River and Akwa-Ibom and States have two identified properties, respectively.
Three of the assets located in Abia State are The War Museum, Ojukwu Bunker, Umuahia, and National Research Institute, Umudike.
Anambra State has one listed property, which is a land approximately 4,200 square kilometres at GRA.
There is also only one set of property in Anambra State comprising four abandoned bungalows at Nnewi, adjacent to Nnewi Police Station, Nnewi.
In Abuja, the properties targeted for recovery include, the popular GSM Village located at GSM Village, Wuse Zone 1, one hectare of land located at Emeka Anyaoku street, and an empty land approximately about 8,900 square metres at Mabushi.
However, prior to the issuance of the October 5, 2021 award letter, according to Malami, Gerry Ikputu & Partners, the original contractor, had on March 12, 2021, signed a memorandum of understanding and power of attorney appointing M. E. Sheriff & Co “to act as recovery agent for the recovery”.
The terms of engagement as contained in the award letter gave M. E. Sheriff & Co, the law firm with the responsibility of handing over the recovered assets to him “for further necessary action and directives”.
The minister 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”.
“Messrs. M.E. Sheriff & Co on behalf of its client shall not be entitled to a deposit-on account prior to the commencement of its services,” the letter added, stressing the condition that the contractors would only be paid based on their successful recovery.
The letter also provides that the directors of the firm awarded the contract “shall be jointly held liable in accordance with applicable.”