EFCC Forfeiture: Court Adjourns Saraki’s Suit Challenging Jurisdiction
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has fixed February 5 to take arguments on the objections raised by a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to the permanent forfeiture of some of his houses in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital.
In a preliminary objection put before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, the two-term Kwara State Governor, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
They also described the new suit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as an abuse of court processes because it was filed at a time when a suit on the same subject matter was still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja before Justice Taiwo Taiwo.
The EFCC had, in the suit filed before Justice Aikawa, claimed that the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki while he was Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011.
Justice Aikawa had on December 2, 2019, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.
The judge then adjourned for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons why the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
In his preliminary objection filed before the court, Saraki described the suit as an abuse of court processes and a move to scandalise him.
He also said the suit is a ploy by the EFCC to review the July 6, 2018 decision of the Supreme Court “discharging the applicant from culpability arising from the same money and houses which are the subject matter of this action,” asking Justice Aikawa to dismiss the suit.
The court will hear arguments for and against the suit on February 5, 2020.
The EFCC, in the suit, told the court that it received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” when Saraki was governor of the state.
An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq said, “Whilst investigation was ongoing several fraudulent transactions were discovered.
“I know for a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following mind-boggling findings, among others:
“That between 2003 and 2011, Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was the Executive Governor of Kwara State.
“That whilst he held the aforementioned position, the common pattern was that after payment of monthly allocation by the Federal Government to the Kwara State Government, a cumulative sum of not less than N100m will be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.
“That upon the payment of the said N100 million, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House.”