The Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed April 24, for its ruling on the final forfeiture of two properties belonging to a former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), is seeking the final forfeiture to the Federal Government of Dr. Saraki’s properties situated at 17 & 17A, McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Moving the application for the final forfeiture of the properties on Thursday (March 5th), counsel to the applicant, Nnaemeka Omewa, told Justice Mohammed Liman, that the properties were acquired with a loan obtained from Guaranty Trust Bank and paid back by money suspected to have been diverted from the coffers of the Kwara State government.
The counsel specifically said that “There are written statements from some officials of the Kwara State government on how the money was taken from the coffers of the state government and used to pay back the loan,”.
The EFCC, therefore, asked the court to look at the merit of its case, all the exhibits attached and make an order permanently forfeiting the properties to the Federal Government.
Meanwhile, the former Senate President through his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), has asked the court to reject the application by the EFCC.
The counsel argued that the EFCC has not been able to prove that the money used to pay back the loan was acquired by any illegal activity.
He also told the court that the EFCC had litigated on the same properties before the Code of Conduct Tribunal all the way to the Supreme Court and had lost.
The counsel then asked the court to dismiss the EFFC’s suit seeking the final forfeiture of the properties and to instead, rule in favour of the former Senate President.
After listening to both parties, Justice Liman adjourned the case till April 24 for judgment.
Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki has called on the Federal Government to install and operate top-notch screening equipment’s at all entry points, in a bid to curtail the spread of Coronavirus in the country.
Nigeria confirmed its first case on Friday morning after an Italian citizen who returned from Milan, Italy on the 25th of February 2020 was quarantined and tested positive to the novel COVID-19 virus.
Dr Saraki in a statement on Friday stated that the first confirmed case must be seen as an opportunity for Nigerians to unite behind a common objective of overcoming the threat to the wellbeing of all.
He added that the relevant government agencies should step up their awareness campaign by issuing relevant and timely information about the disease and steps that can be taken to prevent further spread.
“The occurrence of Nigeria’s first case of COVID-19 must be seen for what it is – an opportunity to unite behind a common objective to overcome a threat to the health and wellbeing of our beloved country and her people.
“I appeal to the Federal Government to install and operate top of the line screening equipment at our airports, seaports and land borders while implementing a policy of stronger screening for people arriving our shores from countries with a high prevalence of the virus.
“I appeal to Federal Ministry of Health and Nigeria Centre for Disease Control to step up their awareness campaign by transmitting information about the disease and the steps that can be taken to prevent it in as many Nigerian languages as possible,” he said.
The former Senate President appealed to Nigerian not to panic and avoid the spread of fake information about the virus.
“It is also necessary to appeal to the Federal Ministry of Health to update Nigerians daily on events to help curb the spread of fake news and misinformation about the virus. I appeal to media houses to support this awareness campaign as much as possible.
“Finally, I appeal to Nigerians not to panic and to avoid spreading sensational or false information about the virus.
“I have always believed that Nigeria and Nigerians can overcome any challenge before us when we unite behind a common purpose. I believe we can do so now,” he asked.
A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed April 27 for its judgment in the case filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the final forfeiture of two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State, belonging to a former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki.
Justice Rilwan Aikawa fixed the date on Thursday after listening to arguments for and against the final forfeiture of the houses to the Federal Government.
In its submission before the court, counsel to the anti-graft agency, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the former Senate President spent N1.09 billion on the two houses, funds which he alleged were stolen from the coffers of Kwara State.
The EFCC claimed that it had evidence that Saraki, who was Kwara State governor between 2003 and 2011, diverted not less than N1 billion belonging to the state.
It later obtained an interim order temporarily forfeiting the houses – Plots No. 10 and No. 11 Abdulkadir Road, GRA, Ilorin, Kwara State – to the Federal Government On December 2, 2019.
The commission urged the court to make the interim forfeiture order permanent, a move that Saraki, through his lawyer, Mr Kehinde Ogunwunmiju, vehemently opposed.
In an affidavit filed before the court, an officer of the EFCC, Bilikisu Buhari, said the anti-graft agency found that while he was governor, Saraki allegedly diverted N100 million on a monthly basis from the federal allocation to the state.
She claimed that the money was usually diverted from the Kwara State government account to the account of the Kwara State Government House.
Buhari added that following the transfer, one Mr Afeez Yusuf, acting on Saraki’s instructions, usually went to withdraw the money from the Kwara State Government House account and took the case to the Government House.
She said, “After the funds were stacked in the Kwara State Government House, it was then fraudulently dissipated and taken away in cash by Messrs Abdul Adama, Ubi Ofem and Ubi Austin, acting on the instructions and direction of Dr Bukola Saraki in violent breach of public trust.
“That in this scheme of fraud alone, about N10 billion was fraudulently diverted from the treasury of the Kwara State government.
“That part of the proceeds of the aforementioned fraud were reasonably suspected to have been comingled with other funds used for the development of the property sought to be forfeited.”
Buhari said Adama, Ofem, and Austin, using fictitious names, usually paid the diverted N100 million into the bank accounts of contractors who built the houses.
Opposing the application for the final forfeiture of his client’s houses, Ogunwunmiju who is a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), said they were built from his legitimate earnings.
He said N252.2 million out of the N1.09 billion used for developing the property represented what Saraki was paid for the development of a five-bedroom apartment, which he was entitled to as a two-term governor of Kwara State.
Ogunwunmiju also drew the attention of Justice Aikawa to the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 of Kwara State, which stipulated that an elected two-term governor of the state was entitled to a five and four-bedroomed duplex, respectively, at any location of their choice within Kwara State.
He said rather than allow the state to build the house for him, Saraki chose to collect N252.2 million so he could add money to it to build a house to his taste.
The lawyer argued that if it was true, as alleged by the EFCC that the document leading to the release of the N252.2 million was forged by an official of the Kwara State Government, the payment to Saraki was still not illegitimate because it was provided for under the law.
He, therefore, asked the court to dismiss the EFCC’s application for being an abuse of court processes, saying the same issues had been taken before the Code of Conduct Tribunal, the Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court where Saraki was vindicated.
But counsel to the EFCC, Mr Rotimi Oyedepo, countered by insisting that as long as Saraki failed to explain how he came about the over N700 million, which he added to the N252.2 million to develop the houses, they were liable to be forfeited to the Federal Government.
After the arguments that lasted over five hours, Justice Aikawa fixed April 27 for judgment.
A Federal High Court Sitting in Lagos has fixed February 5 to take arguments on the objections raised by a former Senate President, Bukola Saraki, to the permanent forfeiture of some of his houses in Ilorin, the Kwara state capital.
In a preliminary objection put before Justice Rilwan Aikawa, the two-term Kwara State Governor, through his lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwumiju (SAN), filed a preliminary objection, challenging the territorial jurisdiction of the court to entertain the suit.
They also described the new suit by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), as 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 before Justice Taiwo Taiwo.
The EFCC had, in the suit filed before Justice 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 then adjourned for Saraki to appear before him to give reasons why the houses should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
In his preliminary objection filed before the court, Saraki described the suit as an abuse of court processes and a move to scandalise him.
He also said the suit is 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,” asking Justice Aikawa to dismiss the suit.
The court will hear arguments for and against the suit on February 5, 2020.
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 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 N100 million, 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.”
According to the state government, the demolition is the physical reclamation of the plot of land which is originally designated for the construction of the civil service clinic in Ilorin.
“The reclamation exercise began in the early hours of Thursday to avoid any needless confrontation. Attempts by some persons to provoke government’s agents on lawful duty were resisted by the security agents who exercised the highest level of restraint and professionalism.
“Contrary to the claim that the State Government was served court papers on the matter, we state that no court paper has been served as at the time the government took steps to preserve what lawfully belongs to the people.
“Finally, we urge the people of the state to remain calm, peaceful, an be guided only by facts of the matter and not be drawn into an emotional outburst that is targeted at distracting the public from the issues at stake. While the administration is focused on restoring sanity to the state after years of barefaced impunity, we will do so within the limit of the law,” the statement read in part.
The Saraki family house before the demolition was used as a venue for political meetings when the Saraki family held sway over Kwara Government.
Policemen, numbering about 50 were said to have gone to enforce the action at about 3:00 am but were initially resisted by some the old women.
The security agents later returned at 4:00 am when the structure was evetually pulled down.
Policemen have surrounded a property belonging to the family of the former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital.
The property has in recent days been a subject of controversy between the former Senate President and the current Kwara State Government.
Prior to this development, the state House of Assembly had deliberated on a petition against the ownership of the expanse of land which was reportedly not paid for, prompting the call for the executive to take over the property.
The matter has also triggered political arguments between the leadership of the Peoples Democratic Party in Kwara State and the state government.
The immediate past President of the Senate, Dr Bukola Saraki, has rejected a recent move by the administration of the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, over a piece of land said to be owned by his late father, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki.
In a statement personally signed by him on Saturday, Saraki condemned the government’s withdrawal of the ownership of the land allocated to late Olusola Saraki, a Senate Leader in the Second Republic.
He also accused Governor Abdulrazaq of crossing the line of decency with his alleged effort to erase the legacies of his late father.
The former Senate President issued the statement a day after the government reverted to itself, the ownership of the land bordering the Civil Service Clinic in Ilorin, the state capital.
A statement by the governor’s Chief Press Secretary, Rafiu Ajakaye, on Friday said a new secretariat complex would be erected on the land in 2020.
The statement added that no certificate of occupancy was ever issued in favour of the firm as the government had bought the land to house the civil service clinic, its parking space, and a secretariat.
It noted that Governor Abdulrazaq has signed a constitutional instrument withdrawing the allocation of the land, saying the action followed a resolution of the State House of Assembly.
In his reaction, Saraki accused the governor of waging a war of attrition waged against the legacy of his father and everything that belongs to the late politician.
He said, “Yesterday (Friday) night, the Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq finally showed his true colour when he announced his decision to revoke the ownership of a property rightfully held by my late father, Dr Olusola Abubakar Saraki on Plots 1, 3 and 5 Ilofa Road, GRA, Ilorin popularly known as Ile Arugbo, (Old People’s home).
“The property, since the Second Republic, has always been used to host the weekly gathering of a multitude of aged people in the society who are provided food, money and health services, as part of the social welfare programme sponsored by the late politician. The tradition has since been maintained.”
“Before now, this same Governor had invited all the members of the State House of Assembly and directed them to commence the process of amending the law to change the name of the State University which the last administration renamed after my late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki,” the former Senate President added.
In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 5 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria (as amended) 1999 and Section 1 and 28 of the Land Use Act Cap. L.5 of 2004 and all other powers enabling me in that behalf, I, Mallam Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, Governor of Kwara State of Nigeria, give the following notice:
The Notice may be cited as the Land Use (Revocation of Right of Occupancy and withdrawal of allocation) Notice, 2019.
Allocation of plots of land 1, 3 and 5 TPS/MISC 129 to Asa Investment (Nig) Ltd. which is meant for the Kwara State Secretariat. The land, specifically and more described in survey No. KwSH 927 and Land/G1071 situated and lying beside Civil Service Clinic along Ilofa Road Ilorin, Kwara State, is hereby revoked and withdrawn for overriding public interest for use of the purpose it is originally meant for:
The construction of Kwara State Secretariat; parking space for civil service clinic and the Kwara State Secretariat and annex to the Civil Service when upgraded to a hospital.
That the plots allocated are hereby declared void. Notice is therefore given to you, Asa Investments Nigeria Limited, that the plots of land 1,3 and 5 TPS/MISC 129 allocated to you and any title on the land whatsoever are hereby revoked, and the allocation is withdrawn for overriding public interest.
Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki says the application to the Federal High Court, Lagos, for interim forfeiture order on his Ilorin home by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) is an abuse of the court process and a violation of a subsisting order of the Federal High Court, Abuja.
Saraki, in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, noted that the Federal High Court in Abuja presided by Justice Taiwo Taiwo had given an order “restraining the respondents (Commission) by themselves, their subordinates, agents, servants, or privies howsoever, from seizing, impounding, taking over, confiscating or otherwise forfeiting the Applicant’s (Saraki) right to own and peacefully enjoy any of his assets and properties”.
“The EFCC’s claim that the Ilorin property was built by any proceed of fraud is outrightly false.
“The fact is that 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 Dr. Saraki personally funded the remaining cost of the building.
“There are existing letters from the Office of the Head of Service of Kwara State notifying the former Governor (Saraki) of the State Government’s compliance with the State Pension for Governor’s law and the one indicating his intention to bear the cost of the additional expenditure that will arise from building the property to his desired taste dated 25th January 2012 and 8th February 2012 respectively,” he said.
Saraki added that the construction of the building did not commence until the last few weeks of his tenure as Governor and the bulk of his contribution to the funding were made with cheques.
“Where cash was involved, this was mainly in 2012 and 2013, more than a year after he had left office as Governor. So, where is the claim that the money for the construction of the house fraudulent obtained from Kwara State Government coming from? It should also be noted that the land on which the house is built is not a government allocated land.”
Saraki also claimed that EFCC is playing politics and spreading falsehood in its attempt to witch-hunt and intimidate a perceived enemy.
According to him, EFCC’s penchant for abusing the nation’s judicial institution is the reason why it filed a suit in Lagos on a property situate in Ilorin.
The statement however disclosed that Saraki will contest the matter in the court.
A Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos, on Monday ordered for interim forfeiture of the Ilorin residence of the immediate past Senate President Bukola Saraki.
This was revealed in a statement signed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) spokesperson, Wilson Uwujaren.
According to him, the Ilorin Zonal Office of the EFCC had earlier approached the court presided over by Justice Ridwan Aikawa for an order of interim forfeiture of about N1 billion worth property belonging to Saraki.
The property which is located at 1, Abdulkadir street, G.R.A, Ilorin, Kwara State is being requested by the anti-graft commission for forfeiture on the grounds that it was acquired through the proceeds of unlawful activity.
Ruling on the exparte application filed by EFCC Lawyer, Rotimi Oyedipo on Monday, Justice Aikawa ordered the interim forfeiture of the property and said the court order should be published in National Newspapers.
The Judge further said that any interested parties in the property should show cause while the property should not be forfeited to the Federal Government.
The Commission in moving application said its reasonably suspected that the former Nigeria number three citizen built the house with Government’s money and other proceeds of crime.
The Federal High Court in Lagos has fixed December 5 to take arguments on whether or not, two Ikoyi houses belonging to former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, should be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
Justice Mohammed Liman had on October 21 ordered the temporary forfeiture of the houses, “lying and known as No. 17A McDonald Road, Ikoyi,” to the government.
He had ordered the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) to publish the temporary forfeiture order in a national newspaper.
The judge adjourned until November 7 for anyone interested in the houses to appear before him to show cause why they should not be permanently forfeited to the government.
At the resumed proceedings on Thursday, EFCC’s counsel, Abdullahi Idris, told the judge that the order was published in The Nation newspaper as ordered by the judge.
The judge, thereafter, fixed December 5 to hear from Dr Saraki and any other interested party on why the properties should not be permanently forfeited.
The EFCC had told the judge it reasonably suspected that the properties were acquired with proceeds of unlawful activities.
It alleged in a supporting affidavit that the former Senate President, who served two terms as Kwara State Governor between 2003 and 2011, “withdrew over N12 billion 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.”
Responding to Atiku’s tweet, Obi thanked the PDP presidential candidate who he described as “one of the most hardworking men”.
Read the tweets below:
.@PeterObi, my Vice Presidential candidate @OfficialPDPNig, is doggedly committed to the Nigerian Project. Okute, as he is fondly called, is also a great steward & patriot. On behalf of my family and team, he’s wished a happy birthday and more years in good health & service.-AA pic.twitter.com/1SULF4CmAq
I celebrate my friend and brother, the former Governor of Anambra State and the Vice Presidential Candidate of our party, @PeterObi, as he turns 58 today. He is a man of excellent character and I pray he lives long to continue positively impacting our country. Happy birthday
This is wishing my brother and friend, @PeterObi, aka Peter The Rock, a very happy 58th birthday. As your years, so shall your strength. I join millions of Nigerians to celebrate you and to let you know we are together with you on the greater Nigeria project.