Femi Falana, a prominent human rights activist and lawyer, has debunked reports insinuating that he received N28 million from Ibrahim Magu, the suspended acting Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Falana, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), made the rebuttal in a pre-action demand dated 12 July, which was addressed to a newspaper and signed by his lawyer, Adeyinka Olumide-Fusika (SAN).
The newspaper had cited a report published by the Federal Government-owned News Agency of Nigeria, which claimed to have obtained the final report of a prior presidential panel allegedly indicting Magu for being unable to account for the interest generated from N550bn cash recovered from 2015 to 2020.
Magu, who is currently facing a presidential panel led by Justice Ayo Salami (rtd), a former Court of Appeal President, was said by the report to have given the said sum to Falana, who it described as “a close associate and ally of the Acting Chairman”.
But Falana’s lawyer described the report as “damning against my client because his entire career as a lawyer has been devoted to fighting human rights abuses and corruption in high and low place”.
“So, to charge such a person with the imputations in your publication is not something that he can (in fairness to himself and the reputation he has worked for all his life) ignore despite that he is also a well-known advocate and defender of press freedom,” the letter read.
Falana’s lawyer admitted that his client is a supporter and public advocate of the EFCC and other government agencies established to fight corruption in Nigeria, to the extent that he has not taken a case of any suspect against the EFCC.
The senior lawyer gave the newspaper 48 hours to retract the publication and apologise or face a defamation lawsuit.
“In the circumstance, my immediate instruction is to demand that you acknowledge your wrongdoing, expressly admit that what you imputed against my client was false, and apologise for your unprofessionalism and the damage you have caused to him.
“I do hope that you will, within the next 48 hours, comply with this gentlemanly request by publication on the front page of your newspaper. Failing compliance, my instruction is to issue a Writ in the tort of defamation in other to afford you an opportunity to prove what you imputed against his my client’s character,” the letter read.