Nigeria: Court Sets Aside Interim Forfeiture Order Made Against Saraki's Assets

5 March 2021

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos yesterday set aside its order of interim forfeiture made against the properties of former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Abubakar Saraki, located at 17 and 17A MacDonald Road, Ikoyi.

The judgment came after counsel to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Mr. Nnaemeka Omewa, and counsel to Saraki, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), had adopted their respective written addresses for and against the final forfeiture order sought by the EFCC against Saraki's properties.

In its judgment, the court presided over by Justice Mohammed Liman, held that the essence of an interim order of forfeiture is to preserve the property from being dissipated by the suspect.

It noted that the burden is on the applicant, that is the EFCC, to satisfy the court that the properties are proceeds of unlawful or illegal activity under the anti-corruption laws.

The court, however, found that the applicant had in its affidavit in support of its motion for final forfeiture, stated that the properties sought to be forfeited were purchased with a personal loan Senator Saraki obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank (GTB).

It agreed with the respondent's counsel's submission that the burden of proof for final forfeiture is on the preponderance of evidence and that the applicant had failed to show that the monies used to purchase the properties were from the Kwara State Government House account.

It said it was not satisfied that the respondent had paid off the loan used to purchase the property.

The court submitted that the evidence of the transactions presented by the applicant were in respect of transactions made after the respondent had purchased the property and that the proceeds used for the purchase were legal (that is loans).

In the final analysis, the court held that the applicant failed to prove its entitlement to the relief of final forfeiture of the respondent's properties.

It accordingly, dismissed the application and vacated the interim forfeiture order it made on October 21, 2019.

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