Federal High Court has discharged order of interim forfeiture against former Senate President, Bukola Saraki’s Ilorin retirement property and dismissed The Economic and Financial Crime Commission, EFCC’s of application for final forfeiture of said property.
Recall that the EFCC through its counsel Rotimi Oyedepo Esq. had filed an application in Suit No. FHC/L/CS/2163/2019 for the forfeiture of Senator Saraki’s property at Plots 10 and 11 Abdulkadir Road GRA Ilorin. EFCC contended that the property was acquired illegally with funds belonging to Kwara State. Senator Saraki through his counsel Kehinde Ogunwumiju SAN raised a preliminary objection to the forfeiture action and filed a substantive opposition to it. Arguments were taken on the 27th February 2020.
In delivering the ruling of the Court today 16th July 2020, Hon. Justice Aikawa of the Lagos Judicial Division of the Federal High Court while dismissing Senator Saraki’s objection held that the Court had jurisdiction to entertain the case. His Lordship further held that the evidence before the Court was to the effect that the property was substantially financed with money paid to the ex-governor in line with the Kwara State Governor and Deputy Governor Payment of Pension Law which provides that a two term governor is entitled to a house within the state upon completion of his second tenure.
His Lordship further held that the contention of EFCC that the property was acquired by illegal funds was based on mere suspicion and therefore the Court could not proceed to order final forfeiture of the property since EFCC had an obligation to prove its case on the preponderance of evidence.
Consequently, the Court discharged the interim order for forfeiture it had earlier granted in favour of the EFCC on 2nd December 2019 and then dismissed the substantive application for final forfeiture.