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Court Returns Saraki’s Houses ‘Forfeited’ to FG

A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has quashed its order, which temporarily forfeited to the Federal Government two houses in Ilorin owned by a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.

Justice Rilwan Aikawa, who released the houses to Saraki, said he was not satisfied with the claims of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) as to the origin of the properties.

The judge said he found insufficient basis in the EFCC application and he could not “find my way through” to grant the permanent forfeiture order.

Last December, Aikawa granted an order for the interim forfeiture of the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – following the EFCC’s ex-parte application.

The anti-graft agency had 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.

“…Whilst he (Saraki) 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.

“Upon the payment of the said N100m, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House,” an operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq, said.

The Commission prayed the court to convert the temporary forfeiture order to a permanent one.

But 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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