Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki yesterday told the Federal High Court, Lagos that the suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking for permanent forfeiture of his Ilorin houses is an abuse of court process.
Saraki in his pleading with court, claimed that the EFCC’s suit was filed to scandalise him, urged the court to dismiss it and vacate the temporary forfeiture order placed on the properties.
He also insisted that the suit is a ploy by the anti-graft agency to review the July 6, 2018 judgment of the Supreme Court.
Saraki argued that the apex court decision had discharged him from culpability arising from the same money and houses which are the subject matter of this suit before the Lagos court.
The Commission had told Justice Rilwan Aikawa 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 between 2003 and 2011.
After listening to the exparte application filed by the EFCC, Justice Aikawa had on December 2, 2019 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.
Justice Aikawa then adjourned the matter for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons why the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
At the resumed hearing of the court on Tuesday, Saraki, through his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
Ogunwumiju submitted that 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 before the Federal High Court in Abuja.
The lawyer maintained that 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.
He said, “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,” Ogunwumiju stated.
The lawyer also claimed that the new suit was meant to “irritate, annoy and scandalise” hus client and therefore urged Justice Aikawa to dismiss it.
The judge has 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 had alleged, “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,” Sadiq claimed.