A former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has asked the Federal High Court in Lagos State to dismiss a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC ) for final forfeiture of his house in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The EFCC in December had secured an interim order for the forfeiture of the house located at 1, Abdulkadir Street, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State, on the grounds that it was acquired with proceeds of corruption. Justice Rilwan Aikawa had ordered the interim forfeiture of the property and invited anyone with an interest in the property to show cause why it should be seized.
But in response, the two-term Kwara State Governor through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, described the suit as an abuse of court processes and a move to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” him.
In the suit no. FHC/L/CS/1867/2019, Mr Ogunwumiju filed a preliminary objection to the court ruling, stating that the suit filed by the EFCC was an abuse of court processes.
He argued that 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.”
He further said the case was filed at a time when a suit on the same subject matter was still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
“Despite the pendency of the above-captioned suit, service of the originating processes and the subsistence of the aforesaid order of this court, the respondent surreptitiously commenced Suit No. 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 this court,” he said.
He, therefore, urged Mr Aikawa to dismiss it.
An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq, informed the court that the commission had received intelligence report ”showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” at the time the defendant was the governor of the state.
He 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.
“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.”
The judge later adjourned the case till February 5 to take arguments on Saraki’s objection.
Journey to Probe
Mr Saraki’s probe by the EFCC started when the agency wrote a letter to the Kwara State Government demanding a breakdown of Mr Saraki’s income, as well as his entitlements as governor of the state.
The anti-graft agency said it was investigating Mr Saraki for conspiracy, abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds, theft, and money-laundering.
Before being elected to the Senate in 2011, Mr Saraki was the governor of Kwara State between 2003 and 2011.
In reaction, Mr Saraki had repeatedly described the probe as politically motivated and a witch-hunt.
Mr Saraki, a leader of the main opposition party, PDP, said the anti-graft agency was only investigating matters that were already settled.
He had previously accused the commission of misleading the judge.