The Lagos Division of the Federal High Court has ordered the return of two houses belonging to former Nigeria Senate President Bukola Saraki that were forfeited to the Nigerian government.
The Federal High Court in Lagos in 2019, ordered the interim forfeiture of two properties located at Ilorin, Kwara State capital.
Nigeria’s anti-graft agency the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) in an exparte application filed by its lawyer Nnaemeka Omewa alleged that they were acquired through proceeds of unlawful activities.
The judge Rilwan Aikawa, in December 2019, granted an interim forfeiture of 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.
Giving the order on Thursday, Aikawa ruled that there is no sufficient basis in the EFCC application for the permanent forfeiture of Saraki’s houses.
Reacting to the interim forfeiture order in 2019, Saraki said EFCC’s claims were outrightly false that he acquired the properties illegally.
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,” Saraki said.
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.
Delivering judgement on EFCC’s application for permanent forfeiture of the properties on Thursday, the Federal Court judge, Rilwan Aikawa, said there is no sufficient basis to forfeit the properties.
Justice Aikawa said he could not find his way through to grant the permanent forfeiture order. He ordered the release of Saraki’s Ilorin houses.