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Court Orders EFCC To Release Two Houses Seized From Saraki

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Federal High Court in Lagos has on Thursday reversed its initial order temporarily forfeiting two houses in Ilorin belonging to a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki to the Federal Government.

The court, in a judgment by Justice Rilwan Aikawa, released the houses back to Saraki, while delivering judgment on an application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), seeking to permanently forfeit the houses to the Federal Government.

The EFCC had in December last year secured a court order for the interim forfeiture of the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State.

The anti-graft agency claimed Saraki acquired the properties with proceeds of “monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” when he was Governor.

However, attempts by the EFCC to convert the temporary forfeiture order to a permanent one was vehemently resisted by Saraki, leading eventually to the discharge of the temporary forfeiture order on Thursday by Justice Aikawa.

The judge said he found no sufficient basis in the EFCC application and he could not grant the permanent forfeiture order.

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.

We known 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.

We also know that upon the payment of the said N100m, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House.

However, the former lawmaker resisted the application and contented among others that the EFCC’s lawsuit was malicious.

Saraki’s counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), also described the EFCC suit as an abuse of court process and an attempt to scandalise him.

He argued it was 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.”

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