A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has fixed February 19 for judgment in a suit filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) seeking the final forfeiture of two properties belonging to former Senate President, Bukola Saraki.
Justice Mohammed Liman fixed the date on Tuesday after parties adopted and argued their final written addresses.
In October 21, 2019, while granting an exparte application brought before it by the EFCC and argued by its counsel, Mr Nnaemeka Omenwa, the court had ordered the interim forfeiture of the two properties located on 17 and 17b, McDonald Road, Ikoyi, Eti-Osa Local Government Area of Lagos State.
The EFCC has said the properties were reasonably suspected to have been acquired with proceeds of unlawful activity.
After being served with the interim forfeiture order, the former Senate President, through his counsel, Mr. Kehinde Ogunwunmiju (SAN), approached the court for a discharge of the interim order prompting Justice Liman to order parties to show cause why the two properties should not be permanently forfeited to the Federal Government.
At the proceedings on Tuesday, the EFCC called three witnesses and tendered several documentary evidence that were admitted by the court.
The Commission had applied to the court to forfeit the properties to the government on the grounds that the buildings were obtained with loans from GTBank and repaid back with Kwara State funds.
Citing a plethora of legal authorities, the EFCC Counsel urged the court to go ahead with the final forfeiture order.
He said his agency had successful established that the money used by the former Senate President in acquiring the two properties sought to be forfeited were illicit funds.
An affidavit attached with the motion for final forfeiture read: “trend of cash lodgments into Saraki’s account became suspicious and in order to further disguise the source and origin of this money, the respondent changed the pattern of payment and started making payments into accounts using fictitious names”.
The EFCC further alleged that Saraki, while serving as the Executive Governor of Kwara State, withdrew over N12 billion cash from the account of the State Government and paid same directly into his account domiciled in Zenith Bank and others through one of his Personal Assistant, Abdul Adama at different times.
But through his counsel, Dr Saraki urged the court to dismiss the EFCC’s motion on the ground that the agency had woefully failed to prove its case against him.
In documents put before the court, the former Senate President maintained that he was already a successful businessman with properties worldwide before he came into politics.
He asked the court to also discharge the interim forfeiture order it earlier placed on the two properties.