Nigeria: Saraki Reacts to Order Forfeiting Houses, Claims EFCC Misled Judge

22 October 2019

A former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, has said the court was misled into granting a temporary forfeiture order on his houses in Ikoyi, Lagos.

PREMIUM TIMES on Monday reported that Lagos Division of the Federal High Court ordered the temporary forfeiture of two properties located in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State belonging to Mr Saraki following an ex-parte application by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).

Mohammed Liman, the judge, who ordered the forfeiture, also gave 14 days for anyone with an interest in the properties to show cause why the order should be revoked.

Saraki's reaction

Reacting to the court ruling, Mr Saraki through a statement by his media aide, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said neither he nor his lawyers were aware of any application by the EFCC for any forfeiture order.

He also said "the Lagos Court was not aware of some facts that the Supreme Court in July 2018, had ruled that the source of funds for the purchase of the property was not illicit as claimed by the EFCC."

He added that a Federal High Court in Abuja had earlier given an order restraining the EFCC from taking action on the property, "as it is a subject matter where the anti-graft agency and the ministry of justice were parties".

The EFCC had in May marked the houses traced to Mr Saraki for an alleged case of conspiracy, abuse of office, misappropriation of public funds, theft, and money-laundering.

The agency's probe of Mr Saraki, however, started when it wrote the Kwara State Government demanding a breakdown of Mr Saraki's income, as well as his entitlements as governor of the state.

The houses had earlier been the subject of Mr Saraki's arraignment at the Code of Conduct Tribunal (CCT), which acquitted him in 2017.

Mr Saraki's statement reads:

"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 (Mr Saraki) at the Code of Conduct Tribunal in which the EFCC as 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."

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