Politics

Final forfeiture: Court dismisses EFCC application on Saraki’s Ilorin homes

-Only Allah saw me through - Ex-Senate President -Nigerians salute Saraki’s courage, blast commission

The Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has ordered the return of two houses belonging to Bukola Saraki, a former Senate President, which were previously forfeited to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in Ilorin.

Recall that the EFCC through its counsel Rotimi Oyedepo Esq. had filed an application in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/2163/2019 for the forfeiture of Senator Saraki’s property at Plots 10 and 11 Abdulkadir Road GRA Ilorin.

EFCC contended that the property was acquired illegally with funds belonging to Kwara State.

Senator Saraki through his counsel Kehinde Ogunwumiju SAN raised a preliminary objection to the forfeiture action and filed a substantive opposition to it. Arguments were taken on the 27th February 2020.

Giving the order on Thursday, the Federal Court judge, Rilwan Aikawa, said there is no sufficient basis in the EFCC application for the permanent forfeiture of the said property.

Consequently, the Court discharged the interim order for forfeiture it had earlier granted in favour of the EFCC on 2nd December 2019 and then dismissed the substantive application for final forfeiture.

The judge, in December 2019, granted an interim forfeiture of Saraki’s houses through an ex parte motion filed by the EFCC.

“The EFCC’s claim that the Ilorin property was built by any proceeds of fraud is outrightly false. One can only see that EFCC is playing politics and spreading falsehood in its cheap attempt to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy,” Saraki said.

Saraki said the Ilorin property was built partly by the Kwara State Government pursuant to the Third Schedule of the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 while he funded the remaining cost of the building with his personal funds.

Meanwhile, in a statement issued on Friday, Saraki said he was happy because the court specifically ruled that there was no evidence that the property was built with any illicit or stolen funds from the Kwara State Government or any other institution or quarter, whatsoever. He said the last five years have been very challenging for him and his family.

“I have endured and defeated one false allegation and malicious litigation after another, in an ill-motivated persecution, intimidation and harassment, through which some vested interests sought to damage my name and label me with charges of corruption but with the grace of Allah, I have always been victorious.”

Also, he alleged that the EFCC leadership under its erstwhile acting chair, Ibrahim Mustapha Magu, decided to take the issue of his non-confirmation by the 8th Senate, personal.

“I know that the Senate under my leadership only followed the due and normal procedure during the confirmation process and we never executed any personal agenda against Magu. The records of the Senate are there for the perusal of all Nigerians interested in the truth.

“I hope that with the outcome of today’s case, EFCC learns that a serious issue like the fight against corruption should not be reduced to a forum-shopping means to execute a personal vendetta or prosecute a parochial agenda.

“With the decision of the Court, it is my expectation that EFCC, which has played significant roles in the various court cases against me from the CCT to the Supreme Court and back at the Federal High Court with the consequent media trial and malicious campaigns will now leave me alone to live my life, and enjoy my unfettered rights to freedom of thought, expression, association, occupation and dignity, as a private citizen and focus on serious issues of national development,” the statement read.

Similarly, Nigerians have saluted the courage of Saraki while his trail with EFCC lasted and lambasted the commission for its action to use state apparatus to intimidate Saraki.

After Saraki posted that court ruling on his twitter handle, Nigerian rose in his support over the action of the EFCC describing him a great Nigerian who has demonstrated passion and strong belief for the judiciary.

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