A Federal High Court in Ikoyi, Lagos, has ordered an interim forfeiture of two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State belonging to the immediate past Senate President, Bukola Saraki. The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) had approached the court presided over by Justice Ridwan Aikawa, for an order of interim forfeiture of the properties said to worth about N 1 billion on the ground that it was acquired through the proceeds of unlawful activity.
The anti-graft agency told the court in an exparte application that it ‘‘uncovered monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011’’, when Saraki was governor of the state. ADVERTISEMENT Based on the application, the court ordered the temporary forfeiture of Saraki’s two properties designated as Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State. An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq, said in an affidavit filed in support of the ex parte application that the move for the forfeiture of the houses followed the findings of the EFCC after investigation and “the report of a committee set up to review sale of Kwara State Government houses during the reign of the Governor of Kwara State in the year 2003 and 2011.”
He said the EFCC also received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011.” Sadiq said, “Whilst the investigation was ongoing, several fraudulent transactions were discovered. “That whilst he (Saraki) held the aforementioned position (governor of Kwara State), 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 N100million will be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.
“That upon the payment of the said N100million, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House.” The EFCC said it believed that Saraki developed the two properties with proceeds of unlawful activities. Counsel for the commission, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, thereafter urged Justice Aikawa to order their temporary forfeiture to the Federal Government. In granting the order, Justice Aikawa directed the EFCC to publish the temporary forfeiture order in a national newspaper.
The judge adjourned the matter to December 17 for anyone interested in the properties to appear before him to show cause why the properties should not be permanently forfeited to the federal government. Meanwhile, Dr. Saraki has reiterated his position that the application to the Federal High Court, Lagos, for interim forfeiture order on his Ilorin home by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is an abuse of the court process and a violation of a subsisting order of the Federal High Court, Abuja. Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, noted that the Federal High Court in Abuja presided by Justice Taiwo Taiwo had given an order “restraining the respondents (Commission) by themselves, their subordinates, agents, servants, or privies whosoever, 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”.