Court orders FG to return Saraki’s Ilorin houses

A federal high court in Lagos has reversed its order of forfeiture granted to the federal government over two houses in Ilorin belonging to Bukola Saraki, former senate president.

The court had in December 2019, granted an interim order of forfeiture following an application brought by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

The EFCC had claimed that the houses located at plots 10 and 11, Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki while he was governor of Kwara state between 2003 and 2011.

However, an attempt by the anti-graft agency to gain final forfeiture of the properties was declined by the court on Thursday.

In its application, the commission said investigations revealed “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011.”

“Whilst investigation was ongoing, several fraudulent transactions were discovered,” Olamide Sadiq, an EFCC operative, said.

“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“That upon the payment of the said N100m, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara state government house, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the government house.”

But Saraki had, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, described the suit as an abuse of court process and an attempt to scandalise him.

He argued that the supreme court has already acquitted him on similar charges in 2018.

Ruling on the application, Rilwan Aikawa, the presiding judge said he found no sufficient basis in the EFCC’s application and he could not “find my way through” to grant the permanent forfeiture order.

On June 9, Mohammed Liman, judge of a federal high court in Lagos had also refused an application by the EFCC seeking final forfeiture of Saraki’s properties in Lagos state.

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