Former Senate President and two-term Kwara State Governor, Dr Bukola Saraki, has urged the Federal High Court in Lagos State to dismiss a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission praying for the permanent forfeiture of his Ilorin houses.
Saraki described the suit as an abuse of court processes and a move 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.”
The EFCC had, in the suit filed before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, claimed that the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities allegedly perpetrated by Saraki while he was Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011.
Justice Aikawa had on December 2, 2019, ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.
The judge adjourned for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons why the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
In response, Saraki, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
Ogunwumiju said the new suit by the EFCC was an abuse of court processes because it was filed at a time when a suit on the same subject matter was still pending at the Federal High Court in Abuja.
According to him, in the Abuja suit, Justice Taiwo Taiwo had on May 14, 2019, made an order for parties to stay action on the subject matter pending the determination of an originating motion on notice.
“Despite the pendency of the above-captioned suit, service of the originating processes and the subsistence of the aforesaid order of this court, the respondent surreptitiously commenced Suit No. FHC/L/CS/1867/2019 between the EFCC v Dr Bukola Saraki on 14th October 2019 in this court where it seeks orders aimed at neutralising the order of the Abuja Division of this court,” he said.
The ex-Kwara State governor said the new EFCC’s suit was meant to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” him and urged Justice Aikawa to dismiss it.
The judge, on Tuesday, adjourned till February 5 to take arguments on Saraki’s objection.
The EFCC, in the suit, told the court that it received “a damning intelligence report, showing monumental fraud perpetrated in the treasury of the Kwara State Government between 2003 and 2011,” when Saraki was the governor of the state.
An operative of the EFCC, Olamide Sadiq said, “Whilst investigation was ongoing several fraudulent transactions were discovered.
“I know for a fact and verily believe that our investigation has revealed the following mind-boggling findings, among others:
“That between 2003 and 2011, Dr Olubukola Abubakar Saraki was the Executive Governor of Kwara State.
“That whilst he held the aforementioned position, the common pattern was that after payment of monthly allocation by the Federal Government to the Kwara State Government, a cumulative sum of not less than N100m will be deposited into the Kwara Government House account.
“That upon the payment of the said N100m, same will, in turn, be withdrawn in cash by one Mr Afeez Yusuf from the Kwara State Government House, Ilorin’s account in bits and brought to the Government House.”