A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, Monday, declined to make permanent, the interim order it made forfeiting former Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki’s properties in Lagos to the Federal Government.
The interim order was made at the instance of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC.
The EFCC had through its counsel, Nnaemeka Omewa, prayed the court to make permanent, the order forfeiting Senator Saraki’s properties at No. 17 and 17B Macdonald Street, Ikoyi, Lagos.
The EFCC had contended that the properties were acquired illegally with funds belonging to Kwara State Government.
However, Senator Saraki through his counsel, Kehinde Ogunwumiju, SAN, raised a preliminary objection in opposition to the suit.
The application was argued on March 5, 2020, and the court adjourned for ruling.
In his ruling, yesterday, trial judge, Justice Hassan Liman held that the court has jurisdiction to entertain the suit.
The court further held that the evidence before the court was to the effect that the properties in issue were acquired by Senator Saraki with a loan from a bank (Name withheld) and not with illegal or unlawful funds or funds belonging to Kwara State Government.
The court further held that there was no evidence before the court linking the loan repayments made by Senator Saraki to funds belonging to Kwara State Government; therefore, there was no basis for ordering the forfeiture of the properties.
The court held that in view of the inconsistencies and contradictions in the affidavits deposed to and relied upon by EFCC, it could not make a forfeiture order in favour of EFCC, hence, the proper course of action would be to order the witnesses of the EFCC to give oral evidence for the purpose of clarifying the said contradictions.
The court accordingly adjourned further hearing in the matter to September 29, 2020, for EFCC to call its witnesses.