FORMER senate president Senator Bukola Saraki has won a landmark legal battle after a Lagos high court ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to return two houses it seized from him in Ilorin suspected to have been bought with looted funds.
Senator Saraki served as Kwara State governor between 2003 and 2011 during which time it is alleged that he illegally accessed public funds and used the proceeds to buy the houses located at Plots10 and 11 Abdulkadir Road, Ilorin. Subsequently, the EFCC got a court order to temporarily seize the house but failed in its attempt to make the seizure permanent.
Yesterday, Justice Rilwan Aikawa, released the houses back to Senator Saraki, while delivering judgment on an application filed by the EFCC, seeking to permanently forfeit the houses to the federal government. Last December, the EFCC had secured a court order for their interim forfeiture after telling the court that they were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
Attempts by the EFCC to convert the temporary forfeiture order to a permanent one was vehemently resisted by Senator Saraki, leading eventually to the discharge of the temporary forfeiture order. Justice Aikawa said he found no sufficient basis in the EFCC application and he could not find his way through to grant the permanent forfeiture order.
In its application, the EFCC had told the court how it received and investigated a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State government between 2003 and 2011 when Senator Saraki was governor. However, Senator Saraki had, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, described the EFCC suit as an abuse of court process and an attempt to scandalise him.
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.