A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday, December 2, 2019 ordered forfeiture of the Ilorin residence of the immediate past Senate President Bukola Saraki.
This was contained in a statement signed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren.
According to Wilson, the Ilorin Zonal Office of the commission had earlier approached the court presided over by Justice Ridwan Aikawa for an order of interim forfeiture of about N1 billion worth property belonging to Saraki.
This is coming barely one week after Saraki claimed Judge who asked EFCC to seize his houses was misled.
The property which is located at 1, Abdulkadir street, G.R.A, Ilorin, Kwara State is being requested by the anti-graft commission for forfeiture on the grounds that it was acquired through the proceeds of unlawful activity.
Ruling on the exparte application filed by EFCC Lawyer, Rotimi Oyedipo on Monday, Justice Aikawa ordered the interim forfeiture of the property and said the court order should be published in National Newspapers.
The Judge further said that any interested parties in the property should show cause while the property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.
The Commission in moving application said its reasonably suspected that the former Nigeria number three citizen built the house with Government’s money and other proceeds of crime
Saraki said the order given for the forfeiture of his property in Ilorin, Kwara state capital, is an abuse of the court process and a violation of a subsisting order of the federal high court in Abuja.
The former Senate President while reacting to the forfeiture said the EFCC’s claims that the property were acquired through the proceed of fraud is untrue. This much was revealed in a statement on Monday by Yusuph Olaniyonu, his special adviser on media and publicity.
He said the court had given an order “restraining the respondents (Commission) by themselves, their subordinates, agents, servants, or privies howsoever, from seizing, impounding, taking over, confiscating or otherwise forfeiting the Applicant’s (Saraki) right to own and peacefully enjoy any of his assets and properties”.
“The EFCC’s claim that the Ilorin property was built by any proceed of fraud is outrightly false. The fact is that the Ilorin property was built partly by the Kwara State Government pursuant to the Third Schedule of the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 while Dr. Saraki personally funded the remaining cost of the building,” the statement read.
“There are existing letters from the Office of the Head of Service of Kwara State notifying the former Governor (Saraki) of the State Government’s compliance with the State Pension for Governor’s law and the one indicating his intention to bear the cost of the additional expenditure that will arise from building the property to his desired taste dated 25th January 2012 and 8th February 2012 respectively.
“The construction of the building did not commence until the last few weeks of Dr. Saraki’s tenure as Governor and the bulk of his contribution to the funding were made with cheques. Where cash was involved, this was mainly in 2012 and 2013, more than a year after he had left office as Governor.
“It should also be noted that the land on which the house is built is not a government allocated land.
“One can only see that EFCC is playing politics and spreading falsehood in its cheap attempt to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy.”
He expressed surprise that the EFCC “could not even hide its penchant for abusing the nation’s judicial institution as it engaged in forum shopping when it filed a suit in Lagos on a property situated in Ilorin”.
“We will like to restate our earlier position that Dr. Saraki will contest this matter in the court at least to further attest to his belief in the rule of law, the sanctity of the courts and their enduring readiness to do justice in all matters and to all persons,” Olaniyonu said.
“Let it be known that the usual claim by the EFCC that its actions were directed against corrupt elements does not apply to Dr. Saraki because he is a man who at every point in his public service has sought to institute transparency and accountability in governance.”