President Buhari's lawyer, Kola Awodein, senior advocate of Nigeria (SAN), on Wednesday, admitted to giving Adeniyi Ademola, a judge facing corruption trial, N500,000, but he said it was a gift for the wedding of the judge’s daughter.
While being cross-examined in the trial of the judge on Tuesday, Babatunde Adepoju, an agent of the Department of State Services (DSS), claimed that Awodein gave Ademola N500, 000 at the time he was representing President Muhammadu Buhari in a “missing certificate” suit before the judge.
However, the witness added that it was a gift and not a bribe.
In a statement issued through Femi Adesina, presidential spokesman, Buhari’s lawyer said he gave Ademola the gift for his daughter’s wedding as a friend.
He said the gift had nothing to do with Buhari because it was his personal offering to the judge, whom he had known for 35 years.
“I am constrained to make in absolute good faith , in good conscience and in the interest of justice and fair play the following very short statement on account of the distorted news story currently being peddled as affecting the person of Mr President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria and my good and very noble self,” he said.
“The very simple and plain facts are as follows:
“I have known as a friend and for well over 35 years Mr Justice Niyi Ademola, a notorious fact known to majority of lawyers who have practiced especially in Lagos for over that same period more or less and also to so many other professionals of other disciplines and other prominent and not so prominent Nigerians.
“It is a fact that the sum of money mentioned was personally paid by me as a friend to Mr Justice Ademola as a personal gift, as our custom well recognises and demands, on the occasion of his daughter’s high society wedding solemnised at the Cathedral Church of Christ, Marina, Lagos, on the 9th of May 2015, which I attended in person.
“I was fully convinced then, as I remain today, that I could do no less as a friend of longstanding to fairly reasonably support him on that memorable occasion of his daughter’s wedding.
“Anyone and everyone who knows me would readily and unquestionably testify that I am and have always been a man of impeccable integrity on and off the courts and that such a record speaks always loudly for itself.
“I would conclude by stating categorically and without any equivocation that ANY link whatsoever with Mr President, or any court case or cases, of my personal gift from my personal resources delivered to Justice Niyi Ademola by myself on that occasion or any suggestion whatsoever that it was anything but such a gift or that it ever came from Mr President or at his instance or that I was acting, under any circumstances, on his behalf is most malicious, utterly ridiculous and in very very poor and revolting taste and most undeserving of any further comments.”