Justice Rilwan Aikawa of the Federal High Court in Lagos yesterday dismissed a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the permanent forfeiture of two properties belonging to former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Justice Aikawa held that the EFCC failed to prove its allegation that the two houses were acquired through proceeds of corruption.
The judge further held, in his judgement on the suit, that the allegations made by the EFCC against the former Senate President were based on mere suspicion and therefore the Court could not proceed to order final forfeiture of the properties.
The court also held that the evidence placed before it was to the effect that the property was substantially financed with money paid to Saraki as a former governor in line with the Kwara State Governor and Deputy Governor Payment of Pension Law.
The Pension Law provides that a two term governor is entitled to a house within the state upon completion of his second tenure.
The court therefore discharged the interim order for forfeiture it had earlier granted in favour of the EFCC on December 2, 2019, and subsequently dismissed the Commission’s application for final forfeiture of the property.
The anti-graft agency had told Justice Aikawa 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 between 2003 and 2011.
The EFCC had also 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 the governor of the state.
An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq had alleged, “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 N100 million will be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.
“That upon the payment of the said N100 million, the same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House,” Sadiq claimed.
But Senator Saraki urged the court to dismissed the suit, claiming that the suit was filed to scandalise him
The former Governor of Kwara State also insisted that the suit is a ploy by the anti-graft agency to review the July 6, 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court.
He argued that the apex court decision had discharged him from culpability arising from the same money and houses which are the subject matter of this suit before the Lagos court.
Saraki, therefore, urged the court to dismiss it and vacate the temporary forfeiture order placed on the properties.