…The ruling upholds that EFCC claims are mere suspicion
An application filed by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) demanding for the final forfeiture of two houses in Ilorin, Kwara State, belonging to the former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has been dismissed by a Federal High Court sitting in Lagos.
In a judgment delivered by Justice Rilwan Aikawa on Thursday, it was a mere suspicion as EFCC argued that the property was bought from illegal funds. Justice Aikawa ruled that the evidence shown before the court was to the effect that the property was considerably funded with money paid to Saraki as a former governor, in line with the Kwara State Governor and Deputy Governor Payment of Pension Law.
The pension law offers that a two-term governor is eligible to a house within the state after completing his second term in office. He, therefore discharged the provisional order for forfeiture previously established in favour of the EFCC on December 2, 2019, and consequently dismissed the EFCC’s submission for final forfeiture of the property.
In his application before the court, the prosecuting, Rotimi Oyedepo, said the former Senate President spent N1.09 billion on the two houses, funds which he alleged were stolen from the treasuries of Kwara State. The anti-graft agency claimed that it had proof that Saraki, who was Kwara State governor between 2003 and 2011, siphoned not less than N1 billion belonging to the state.
While differing on the application for the final forfeiture of his client’s houses, Saraki’s lawyer, Kehinde Ogunwunmiju, affirmed that the houses were constructed from his legitimate remunerations. Ogunwumiju said N252.2 million out of the N1.09 billion used for developing the property signified 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.
He also drew the attention of Justice Aikawa to the Governor and Deputy Governor (Payment of Pension) Law 2010 of Kwara State, which specifies that an elected two-term governor of the state is eligible to five and four-bedroom duplexes respectively, at any location of their choice within Kwara State.
The Senior Advocate of Nigeria said rather than allow the state to build the house for him, Saraki chose to collect N252.2 million so he could augment it with his money and build a house to his taste.