The Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has ordered the return of two houses belonging to Bukola Saraki, a former Senate President, which were previously forfeited to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC).
Giving the order on Thursday, the Federal Court judge, Rilwan Aikawa, said there is no sufficient basis in the EFCC application for the permanent forfeiture of Mr Saraki’s houses.
The judge, in December 2019, granted an interim forfeiture of Mr Saraki’s houses located at Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State, through an ex parte motion filed by the EFCC.
The EFCC told the court that Mr Saraki acquired the properties through proceeds of unlawful activities during his administration as the governor of Kwara State.
The agency, in its application, said there is “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011.”
Justice Aikawa, while delivering a judgement on EFCC’s application for permanent forfeiture, upheld the earlier judgement and ordered the release of the properties on grounds that the motion lacked basis.
Mr Saraki had resisted the forfeiture of his Ilorin houses on several occasions, saying the act was a witch hunt by the EFCC.
“The EFCC’s claim that the Ilorin property was built by any proceeds of fraud is outrightly false. One can only see that EFCC is playing politics and spreading falsehood in its cheap attempt to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy, ” Mr Saraki said.
Mr Saraki said the Ilorin property was built partly by the Kwara State Government pursuant to the Third Schedule of the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 while he funded the remaining cost of the building with his personal funds.
During the Thursday Judgement, Justice Aikawa said he could not find his way through to grant the permanent forfeiture order. He ordered the release of Mr Saraki’s Ilorin houses.