VICTORY for Saraki, as the Court rejects the EFCC's application for final seizure of his assets
A request by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to permanently destroy two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State, belonging to a former Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, was rejected by a federal court in Lagos.
Recall that in 2019 the EFCC obtained a decision from the Federal Court in Lagos to confiscate two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State, belonging to Saraki.
The EFCC told the court that it had uncovered a monumental fraud committed at the Kwara State Government treasury between 2003 and 2011, when Saraki was governor of Kwara State.
In her presentation to the court, EFCC lawyer Rotimi Oyedepo said that the former president of the Senate had spent 1.09 billion nones on the two chambers, money that was allegedly stolen from Kwara State's coffers.
The anti-graft agency claimed it had evidence that Saraki, who was governor of Kwara state from 2003 to 2011, had siphoned off no less than a billion ngulls from the state coffers.
Oyedepo had urged Judge Rilwan Aikawa to order the temporary seizure of Saraki's property from the federal government.
Judge Aikawa had approved the order and instructed SFBC to publish the temporary seizure order in a national newspaper and to postpone it until 17 December, so that anyone interested in the property could come before him to explain to the federal government why the property should not be permanently seized.
Saraki's lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwunmiju, rejected the request for permanent confiscation of his client's houses, saying they were built with his legitimate earnings. Ogunwumiju said that of the N252.09 million that was used to develop the land, N252.2 million was paid to Saraki to develop a five-room apartment, to which he was entitled as governor of Kwara State for two years.
He also drew the attention of Judge Aikawa to the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pensions) Act 2010 of Kwara State, which provides that a Governor elected to two terms in the State is entitled to five- and four-bedroom double apartments at a place of his choice within Kwara State at the end of his second term.
Nigeria's Chief Advocate said that instead of allowing the state to build him the house, Saraki chose to raise ngultrument 252.2 million so that he could add money to build a house to his liking.
In his ruling on Thursday, July 17, Judge Aikawa announced that the EFCC's claim that the land was acquired with illegal funds was based on mere suspicion. He explained that the evidence presented to the court indicated that the property was mainly financed by funds paid to Saraki as a former governor under the Kwara State and Deputy Governor's Pension Payments Act.
Accordingly, Justice Aikawa issued on 2 December 2019 the temporary forfeiture order previously issued in favour of the EFCC and subsequently dismissed the EFCC's application for final forfeiture of the property.
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