A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos on Monday October 21, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of two properties located in Ikoyi area of Lagos State and belonging to the immediate past Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, to the Federal Government.
But Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser (Media and Publicity), Yusuph Olaniyonu, alleged that the Court was misled into granting that order as neither him nor his lawyers were aware of any application by the EFCC for any forfeiture order.
He said there is a subsisting court order issued by the Federal High Court, Abuja, in which the same property was a subject matter and where the EFCC and the Federal Ministry of Justice were parties. The court in that case gave an order restraining the EFCC from taking any further action until the matter is determined.
The Ilorin Zonal Office of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) had in an ex parte application filed by the Commission’s Lawyer Nnaemeka Omewa approached the Court, seeking an order of interim forfeiture of the properties located at No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos, alleging that they were acquired through proceeds of unlawful activities.
Part of the reliefs sought by the EFCC included ” An order of this honourable Court forfeiting to the Federal Government of Nigeria landed property with appurtenances situate, lying and known as No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State found and recovered from the respondent which property is reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity”.
The Commission in supporting affidavits, alleged that the former Senate President acquired the two properties with proceeds of unlawful activity; that while serving as governor of Kwara State, he withdrew over twelve billion cash from the account of the Kwara Government and paid same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith Banks through one of his personal assistant, Abdul Adama, at different intervals.
Delivering Ruling on the application, Justice Mohammed Liman ordered the interim forfeiture of the two properties. He also instructed that the EFCC should publish the order in a national newspaper within fourteen days, for anyone with interest in the properties to show cause, why they should not be finally forfeited to the Federal Government.
Said Saraki in his statement: “We are sure the FHC judge in Lagos was not aware of all these facts and has therefore been misled into giving the temporary forfeiture order. The affected property, House Number 17 A and 17B, was specifically listed in the case against him at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in which the EFCC was part of the prosecution and the case went up to the Supreme Court where the apex court in its July 6, 2018 judgement ruled in his favour.
“The Supreme Court has ruled that the source of funds for the purchase of the property was not illicit as claimed by the prosecution. On pages 12, 13 and 26 of the judgement of the highest court, this particular property on 17A McDonald Street, Ikoyi, was specifically referred to and the court upheld the no case submission of Dr. Saraki and therefore ruled in his favour.
“We know that any action which tends to mislead the court amounts to misrepresentation and it is a good ground for us to get the Court to throw away the order it issued today. We are sure the order will be reversed.
“We therefore call on all the friends, associates and supporters of Dr. Saraki to remain calm because we know this action will not stand when the court gets to hear the side of the former Senate President”, Saraki stated