* Ex-Senate President urges court vacate forfeiture order
Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has filed an application before a Federal high court sitting in Lagos for the dismissal of a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC seeking the permanent forfeiture of his houses in Ilorin, Kwara State.
The anti-graft agency had earlier obtained a court order for temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government of Nigeria.
In his application, Saraki contended that the suit filed against him in which the EFCC is seeking a takeover of the houses for the Federal Government is an abuse of court processes.
He described the suit as a ploy by the EFCC to review the July 6, 2018 decision of the Supreme Court “discharging him from culpability arising from the same money and houses which are the subject matter of this suit .”
EFCC , in a suit filed before the court, claimed that the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki while he was Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011.
The presiding Judge, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, had on December 2, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government,thereafter adjourned for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons why the houses should not be permanently be forfeited to the Federal Government.
However in a response filed by his lawyer Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), through a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit, the former Senate President said the new suit by the EFCC was an abuse of court processes because it was filed at a time when a suit on the same subject matter was still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
He contended that in the Abuja suit, the presiding Judge, Taiwo Taiwo had on May 14, 2019 made an order for parties to stay action on the subject matter pending the determination of originating motion on notice pending before him.
“Despite the pendency of the above mentioned suit, service of the court processes and the subsistence of the aforementioned order of the court, the respondent surreptitiously commenced another suit: FHC/L/CS/1867/2019 between the EFCC v Dr Bukola Saraki on 14th October 2019 in this court where it seeks orders aimed at neutralising the order of the Abuja division of the same court,” he said.
The ex-Kwara Governor said the new EFCC’s suit was meant to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” him and urged Justice Aikawa to dismiss it.
Justice Aikawa adjourned till February 5 to hear further arguments on Saraki’s objection.
The EFCC, in a suit filed before the court averred that, the anti graft agency received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” when Saraki was the Governor of the state.
An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq in an affidavit sworn to and filed before the court averred that “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.
“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 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.