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Friday, October 22, 2021

Court Declines Forfeiture of Saraki’s Houses to Government

The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos on Monday declined an application of Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking for the final forfeiture of two houses belonging to the immediate past Senate Presidnt, Bukola Saraki.

Justice Mohammed Liman said that the EFCC did not provide sufficient support and tendered a conflicting affidavit evidence in support of its prayer. Therefore, the judge held that the EFCC’s documents did not clearly establish a link that substantiate that Kwara State Government funds were used to service or for repayment of the loan by Saraki.

However, Justice Liman mentioned that the Commission made “a strong showing of strange transactions” through Saraki’s statement of bank account exhibited in court. Therefore, the judge requested the Commission to call witnesses for oral evidence to prove that the funds were proceeds of fraud as being claimed by EFCC.

In the suit, the anti-graft agency asked the court to order the final forfeiture of Saraki’s properties at 17 and 17A, McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos to the Federal Government of Nigeria. The EFCC claimed that the houses were acquired with funds allegedly diverted by Saraki from the treasury of Kwara state Government while he was the governor. According to EFCC, “Between 2003 and 2011, Saraki withdrew over N12bn cash from the account of the Kwara State Government and paid same into his accounts domiciled in Access and Zenith banks through one of his Personal Assistants, Abdul Adama, at different intervals”.

The anti-graft agency said Saraki obtained a bank loan of N1.6 billion to buy the houses and later repaid the loan with money diverted from the Kwara State treasury.

Justice Liman adjourned the matter to September 29 for the EFCC to bring more evidences and witnesses.

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